Concert Reviews

Sumo Cyco / Devilskin Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 28, 2017    
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Sumo Cyco / Devilskin - Rock City, Nottingham (UK) - 23 March 2017

I've been in the Basement at Rock City a great many times but this is the first time I've been present for an actual gig. It is a compact little room for sure and made for an intimate evening that will last for a long time in the memory.

Due to interview commitments and then the need for food unfortunately I missed Eva Plays Dead who, by all accounts, were excellent. This co-headline UK tour by Devilskin and Sumo Cyco has seen them alternate time slots, though each has played for around an hour. Tonight it is the turn of Sumo Cyco to bring the evening to a close, so Devilskin took to the small stage at 7.45 and for the next sixty minutes gave a masterclass in Female-Fronted Heavy Rock/Metal. For those unfamiliar with the band's style, it is like an edgier version of Halestorm with occasional but never intrusive harsh vocals. The New Zealand-based quartet consist of Jennie Skulander (lead vocals), Nail (guitar), Paul Martin (bass) and Nic Martin (drums) and they have been together for six years, releasing two full-length studio albums – 'We Rise' (2014) and 'Be Like The River' (2016) – both of which have been reviewed in Fireworks. The set featured songs from each and a great cover, which I will come to later.

Devilskin Live

'Start A Revolution' got us under way and pretty much summed up Devilskin in the space of four minutes. Crunching riffs, intense rhythms and face-melting vocals, not to mention intense music which was both powerful and hypnotic, that attacked the senses and impacted highly due to the crystal clear sound and impressive mix. Being able to actually see the songs performed live gave them an enjoyable extra dimension and the performances all round were superb. Nail and Paul Martin stood either side of Skulander and everyone (aside from Nic Martin of course) took turns on the risers that allowed for closer appreciation of the trades each ply. 'In Black', 'Vessel', 'Voices' and 'Never See The Light' were aggressive and melodic in equal measure and Nail's riffs and solos sat perfectly next to Paul and Nic Martin's thumping musical bedrock. Some of Skulander's vocals were simply jaw-dropping and the almost reflective 'Animal' saw goose-bumps and neck hairs present and correct. I knew it was part of the band's repertoire but the inclusion of Dio's 'Holy Diver' was inspired and brilliantly executed. The energy levels throughout the set never let up and I think if time had allowed then we would have got more. 'Mountains' and 'Little Pills' left no one in any doubt about Devilskin's musical ability and I'm left cursing myself that I have never seen them on any of their previous visits to the UK. They are due to play Download in June and I can guarantee they will go down a storm.

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I have had the good fortune to be able to review the two studio albums released by Sumo Cyco to date. At the time of tonight's show 'Opus Mar' is yet to be made available commercially, though those lucky enough to be in attendance were able to buy copies following the show's conclusion. Sumo Cyco hail from Toronto and channel a combustive mixture of No Doubt and Skindred into their music. This was the first time I have seen them play live and I was a little unsure about what to expect. Musically there are elements of Rock and Punk and many of the songs contain programmed elements and unconventional structures. Lead-singer Sever (Skye Sweetnam) was a sexy combination of Gwen Stefani and Juliette Lewis with the attitude and singing ability to match. Guitarist Matt Drake was her energetic partner-in-crime, laying down spitfire riffs, as well as acting as musical co-ordinator. Kenny Corke's bass guided the songs and he is the ideal foil for Drake as they supplied the outlet for Sever's unrelenting interaction with the crowd.

Sumo Cyco - Live

She moved from the stage at regular intervals and at one point climbed on the pillar against which I leant, to balance precariously whilst never missing a vocal beat. The songs resonated even more in the live environment and there was hardly time to pause for breath as one finished and the next one began. 'Anti-Anthem', 'Mercy' and 'Go Go Go' were hard-hitting and the crowd responded, with Sever's encouragement, by starting the first of a number of mini mosh pits. 'My Name Is Rock 'N' Roll' was a Punk-infused chance for a sing-along whilst 'Crowd Control (Do What We Want)' saw some bizarre moves from a number of people near the front of the stage... dancing I think. 'Mountains' saw more Sever interaction with the audience, as she got everyone on the floor to their knees, before jumping as one, something that almost made me spill my pint in the process (phew, that was a close one). Sever and Drake took their life in their hands when they climbed onto the speakers to the left and right of the stage during 'Fighter' and though my heart was in my mouth once or twice, it simply added to the spectacle and seemed a natural move as the show came to an end.

Both Devilskin and Sumo Cyco were genuinely nice people who were happy to chat after the show and despite some over-enthusiastic eviction cries from the Rock City staff, CDs were signed and photos posed for. A fantastic night in Nottingham and two bands that deserve far more recognition and exposure.

Dave Bott

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