Without Love (6), Energetic pumped up hardcore with a touch of a metallic edge. The drums hit you square in the chest, and they just go for it. It’s always tough for the opening act especially one that normally come as a 4 piece. Missing that second guitarist didn’t seem to blunt them as they sped through their 30-minute stage time with barely any gaps or pauses for breath. Its straight in and all though the songs do bleed into one by the end, they have achieved their task of getting the crowd warmed up.
Sheffield’s Hidden Mothers (7) are next. Going from the energy of Without Love to the more expansive, possibly slower sound could be risky but Hidden Mothers have a plan. Steffan Benham plants the mic stand in the pit as an early statement of intent, stalking the area like a predatory lion as the band set up. And then they are off and It's amazing just how massive their sound actually is, not in a volume way but just how they filled the air, how in each and every song there is just something different either with the almost primal scream style that is cathartically released to the opposing vocal delivery from Luke and Liam (guitar/bass respectively) is makes up for a band that somehow manages to make 30 minutes seemingly stretch further as if they made time stand still.
Zetra (9), now these blew me away. A faltering start due to a faulty lead (it’s a guess) the two-piece got going in full dress, corpse-paint the lot and delivered a performance that was just something else. I’d never heard their music before and wow. Shrugging off the delay, they just went about ensnaring you in their sound, bringing for me a sense of 80’s goth and electronica but with some of the most ethereal-sounding vocals I’ve heard in a long time. I’m just cross that I haven’t given them a listen before now which is something that I am going to change. Seeing Serena in the pit, watching them cover How To Swim Down and just being overcome is testament to how good they were. Based on what they were able to do in that short time and how well that translated to the crowd.
Svalbard (9) are one of those bands who look genuinely excited and humbled that people have come out to see them. It’s absolutely infectious as the crowd pick up on this and pay it back which only fuels them to play harder and just burn up the stage. It’s a tight one hour set, as they just blow through the ten songs with only little breaks to allow for a quick (or not so quick) retune – Sorry Liam. Even this is received so well that Serena and co are smiling. Aiming for a balance between their new stormer of an album The Weight Of The Mask and When I Die, Will I Get Better? they pummel and batter with Serena and Liam sharing vocal duties shredding through Open Wound, Throw Your Heart Away to the final one-two of Greyscale and Eternal Spirits. They sound monstrous and confirm themselves as being one of the premier metal acts the UK has at this moment. If you haven’t got their new album remedy this immediately. If you get chance to catch them live, do so. This was the last night of their European tour and I think its safe to safe they went out on a high.
As nights go, this is one of the best curated line-ups I’ve had the pleasure of seeing as each one offered something different, and kudos to Svalbard to putting this together. A shout out to the Key Club too for being a warm and inviting venue, great night all round!!
Post Live review note: Hidden Mothers announced on the 23rd that their gig on the 19th of November would be their last with Steffan. A Twitter / X post stated that there is no drama, just creative differences and they have reached this decision amicably.