Tonight’s show marked the first night in the UK of this monolithic tour. With After the Burial headlining the show, supported by Circles and Monuments; you know it’s going to be a night of pure, unrelenting energy and sauna rooms.
It’s fair to say that, ‘The Joiners’, is one of Southampton’s smaller venues, offering an intense atmosphere and (extreme) proximity to the bands and other fans. Okay, it’s cosy, but believe me, it also gets VERY hot and it’s not long before that sweltering, muggy, stifling heat is trying to suck the life out of you. It’s the kind of heat that makes you run a river of sweat by just breathing and walking from the bar to the stage seems like a trek across the Sahara… Okay, so I’m getting carried away, but it gets HOT.
There was a new addition to bill tonight, or maybe I was just unaware that the opening act was a band called Tides From Nebula. These guys were pure progressive, instrumental with sounds that can only be described as an unseemly hybrid between U2 and Coldplay, and when things can’t get much weirder… they got a little weirder. However, the crowd seemed to really enjoy them and it was a nice, mellow start to what lay ahead.
Next to take the stage were the well-anticipated Circles and like a magnetic pull, the stage area began to fill with a crowd eager to go nuts. As the band walked on and the well known beginning beat of “Frontline” kicked in, everyone started to move instantly. From the offset you could feel the crowd’s underlying energy as those techno-style dance beats pulsated through the mass of bodies, immediately culminating into a turbo-charged frenzy as soon as those heavy, chunky riffs started.
The band played each song with perfection, creating a recognisable sonic imprint and distinct style. The sound was also spot on with each member coming in loud and clear, this clarity created a force, combined of complex melodies, harmonies, unrelenting drums and powerful vocals, that hit the audience as waves of energy and power. Circles played a mix of old and new, but mainly their new(ish) full length album, Infinitas. However, old or new, the crowd still went nuts for each song; head banging to even the most complex number. Overall these Australians really know how to bring it to the UK and treat the crowd to a technical master-class and mesmerising performance.
Monuments are a band that seem to still be quite small in the metal world but rather large in the progressive scene and after what can be described as a ‘turbulent’ few years for the band, they have put this behind them and been on the rise ever since. So much so that you can tell that this is a band not to miss… I mean, the crowd were riled up before the members even walked on stage! As the members took their places they continued to joke around, laugh and mix random tracks, and all the while, the crowd looking ready to erupt. As the beginning of “Origin of Escape” subtly came through the speakers, slowly gaining in volume, the crowd exploded and the energy erupted as a heatwave took over.
The physicality of their sound; a combination of groove, down-tuned aggression and complex song-writing technique really comes to life in a live environment, resulting in a hugely liberating gig experience. They are incredible when recorded – but more incredible live performers. As the heavy, almost guttural vocals started “The Alchemist”, the intricate and hypnotic guitar work from John Browne and Olly Steele combined seamlessly with deep groove bass tones and solid drums which were seasoned with fast, beating poly-rhythmic patterns. The blend creates a powerful, unrelenting sound that pummels the crowd with its tightness and in-your-face intensity. The crowd go even harder, feeding the band with their energy, who then throw it back ten-fold to the crowd. Similarly “Horcrux” was another crowd pleaser.
During their set, members of the crowd were welcomed on stage to do the inevitable stage dive. As several rushed up on stage… like synchronised diving, they all plunged on the opening riff of the next song and even Chris Barretto took the leap of faith. The crowd didn’t stop moving, the band didn’t stop moving and by the time they were playing their last song it was about 1000 degrees. If you’ve never seen Monuments live before, then I assure you that you won’t be disappointed. The sheer power that this band puts out simply blew me away, leaving the rest of the night a bit of a blur. Alas, I must continue.
Now I must admit that although I have previously seen After the Burial (supporting Born of Osiris) I haven’t really listened to them since. These guys are somewhat heavier in terms of guitar tones, chuggy riffs and guttural vocals, they’re fast but tight and on the ball. You can tell the crowd had been waiting for this moment all night and as the headliners took the stage and broke into their first song, the hell pit of flying fists and bodies began.
Although After the Burial a progressive and technical aspect to their music which creates a fun groove, the constant use of breakdowns and guitar slams becomes a bit tedious and repetitive and ultimately makes me walk to the bar to seek alcohol. Vocalist Anthony occasionally has a death metal feel to his vocals, which adds to the heaviness and again, creates a (very) slight appeal to me. The music is heavy, it’s fast and I can see why people are into it. I just prefer my metal a little less with the breakdowns.
Overall the set contained heaps of heavy grooves, chunky, catchy riffs and unrelenting drumming which certainly kept the massive and constant pits happy and sated the audience appetites. Be sure to get on this tour, you won’t be disappointed. The bands on the bill tonight delivered bloody impressive sets showcasing a variety of metal which had the crowds singing, jumping and throwing themselves at each other all the way through.