Loathe / Harbinger / A Titan A Diety / Failure Is An Option http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/0a/16/ff/Loathe-Live-Thumb-25-1505156024.jpg Hot

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Loathe / Harbinger / A Titan A Diety / Failure Is An Option - Flapper, Birmingham (UK) - 29 August 2017

On the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of the second city, nestled quietly among a million other similar establishments, sits a little boozer on the side of a canal with a reputation for brilliant selections of ale, and even better line-up of bands. Armed with a pint of Iron Maiden's very own Trooper, on tap no less, we venture below the main bar and into the dingy darkness awaiting us, which unsurprisingly doubles up as our venue for tonight's entertainment. Indeed, for a band such as headliner's Loathe, a blank canvas of a dingy room like the Flapper's is a suitable one for their Experimental Metal, which debut album 'The Cold Sun' reels off like a soundtrack for a movie yet to be made than a standardised album, and that comes to life here.

Opener Failure Is An Option unfortunately play into their own self-prophesising tonight, taking on the excruciatingly cringing role of the odd one out. Their bottled-up brand of circa-2007 Metalcore is so much like a copy-and-paste job that they may as well have travelled back in time and paid their dues back then. Dual vocalists – clean and harsh – can work, honest, but here it falls flat. It's hard to take these guys seriously, one of them is in face paint, another dressing as if he's in an Indie-Psych band, and the cohesiveness completely goes when they start playing that stereotypical "we can make real music" ballad all Teeny-Bopper Metal bands make. It's done good, it's just not good for this bill.

Fear not, A Titan A Deity come along with their "we're basically Bury Tomorrow if they were to be more akin to Deathcore than Metalcore"... and you know what... it actually bloody works. Before they play, front-man Luke Whyle represented what I thought was the hipster contingent of the evening's audience, and yet here he is, taking over the entire floor and pumping out a harsh vocal attack worthy of note – this guy means bloody business. Yeah, they sound like a heavier Bury Tomorrow, and yeah, it's nothing new, but they play it good, they play it passionately and it sparks things up.

This may be Loathe's headliner, but Basick Record's Harbinger are a near-unstoppable force to be reckoned with. Mixing Tech-Metal complexity with sheer Death Metal mentalities, Harbinger take to the stage with one goal in mind – caving your head in. It's brutal, it's pummelling and my god, they look like they were having fun up there. Tom Gardner is a commanding front-man, a vocalist with the bravado to spit out his guttural lyrics and take on a crowd, even if they are dwindling in numbers. They're the first band to bring the small numbers forward, the first to really spark any movement, with a small group banging their heads in all seriousness at the front. It's the support Loathe need.

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It's clear from the way in which two gentlemen next to me ditch their freshly-cooked just-arrived pizza by one of the speakers so as not to mosh on a freshly-full stomach that tonight Loathe are the sole reason the gathering crowd are here. The Merseyside massive have found themselves inundated with a blistering reputation right from the dwellings of the underground, and with support from promising label Sharptone Records, are poised to position themselves as leaders of their scene; that statement is affirmed once more tonight.

From the moment the desolate synth-driven ambience of 'The Cold Sun' evaporates into 'It's Yours', the army-marching drum-beat leading the band into a guttural, visceral, and utterly brutal explosion culminating in vocalist Kadeem France screaming "loathe as one", it's clear this is going to be one hell of a messy gig. Heads bang and bodies fly, slam-dancing decking the front of the floor, France weaving in and out of the full-body bruisers crushing each note on a level few artists achieve even at their peak.

Whilst older cuts crush heads and kick ass, it's the cuts from the debut album, 'The Cold Sun', which desolate a crowd that should be far bigger and far more active than they are. 'Loathe' and 'East Of Eden' are bombastic displays of studio-level talent replicated live, which for a band of their stature, is a rarity beyond the realm of unicorns. Visionary guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe fires clean vocal choruses to-and-fro between France's sinister snarls, the crowd singing the clean and screaming the harsh vocals equally. The beauty of Loathe in the live arena are the intricate expressionate moments they initiate, none more perfect than when they fire into the chorus of 'East Of Eden' – every single member of the crowd shouting the chorus word-for-word, whilst the body bruisers at the front explode like a lighter in a petrol station. Simply put, as I've stated in a different publication, Loathe are the heirs to The Dillinger Escape Plan's soon-to-be vacant throne. They are set to be the kings of the live scene, and the kings of art-driven Experimental Metal.

Having been along to some of the other dates on this tour, this night was by far the best for Loathe – and for the crowd – that I had seen, and even more so, unlike a different show, post set closer Babylon they answer calls for an encore with 'In Death', a choice-cut from their EP 'Prepare Consume Proceed' which fires up everyone once again for a bone-crushing finale.

Loathe are important. Along with the likes of Venom Prison, Employed To Serve, and Code Orange, Loathe are about to become pioneers of a new era of heavy music, and they're more than ready for the challenge.

Jack Press

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