Gibraltar based flamenco metal heads, Breed 77, recently returned to the fair city of Manchester as part of their acoustic tour to promote their up and coming acoustic EP entitled “Under the Skin”. Joined by the ultimate The Mariana Hollow, two local supports signed to the mighty Rocksector Records and not to mention 100 rabid metal fans jammed into a small enclosed area, this was one gig that will never be forgotten!
First up on tonight’s monster bill was Steel Threads [7/10], who despite suffering from sound problems throughout the entirety of their set, managed to hook the crowd with their mesmerising folk tinged groove. They are quite an odd, but never the less musically stimulating support act for Breed 77, being armed with only a double bass, fiddle and a guitar (which doesn’t work); playing good old fashioned, hillbilly esque, folk rock anthems that appeals to everyone. Whether you be a rock fan, a classical fan, a folk fan – Steel Threads have something for you in their music, showing diversity, difference and downright rock n’ roll spirit in tracks such as ‘Gave You a Thought’ and ‘Steel Threads’, leaving the people who were lucky enough to catch them tonight gobsmacked at their musical mastery. Who cares if the guitar wasn’t coming through the PA…? If you have a double bass at hand, everything seems miles better!
Fantasist [9/10] have been making quite a name for themselves over the past year in the rock and metal community and tonight they are close to blowing Breed 77 off the stage. Their weird, bluesy progressive rock assault really catches Manchester off guard tonight and those who have never seen the pinstriped musketeers in action before got a real treat. Deciding tonight will be a brilliant occasion to showcase a fair few tracks off of their upcoming album as well as throw in some classics such as ‘The Divide’ and ‘Smokescreen’; Fantasist make an impression from the first note, with guitarist and singer Oliver Cordwell striding, dancing and jumping round the stage like an hysterical child on energy drink in time to these foot stomping groove fests.
As good as it is to hear tracks such as ‘X’s and O’s’ and ‘Darkness’ off of the band’s debut, Giggle Juice, the bands new tracks really hit the spot tonight. Fantasist haven’t changed musically with these new songs but they have matured a hell of a lot, sounding tight, powerful and better than ever. Tonight we get a taste of what’s to come through the tracks ‘Grim Fandango’ (which should be the new national anthem), ‘Red’, ‘Unity and ‘Bloodmoon’ and to say that these new tracks are brilliant would be an understatement. Mark 2012 in your diaries as it is the year Fantasist makes it to the big league and after playing a live set as broad and epic as the one played tonight, Fantasist have left Manchester begging for more.
Hailing from London, The Mariana Hollow [8/10] is a female fronted alternative metal band whose songs are chock full of dark melodies, explosive choruses and melancholic style riffs. Tonight’s set ranges across hits from the band’s debut EP ‘Coma heart’ and their latest record ‘Velvet Black Sky’, forming an explosive set which lasts just over 40 minutes. There is so much talent in that band, but probably most talented and overlooked is bass player Scott Chesworth who doesn’t let the fact that he is blind get in his way of the music. His fingers are flaring about like a fiery maelstrom throughout the entirety of the set – playing up and down the neck like there is no tomorrow making his rumbling, dark bass grooves an essential parts to songs such as the anthem ‘Your Halo’, ‘Paperplane’ and ‘Breathe’. Now, that is true skill!
This is The Mariana Hollow’s first gig in Manchester, and they manage to wow the crowd from the word go. Tonight’s acoustic set may not have given Manchester the full dosage of what to expect from The Mariana Hollow’s live experience, but it is something different and songs like ‘Knife to the Throat’, ‘Come Undone’ and ‘Stand Your Ground’ sound just as big and atmospheric when done acoustically. The Mariana Hollow left Alter Ego tonight with many a new fan, and through memorable songs, incredible musicianship and one of the most beautiful voices in rock and metal music – The Marina Hollow prove why they are THE BEST female fronted band of the 21st century.
By this time Alter Ego is full to busting and it clear who everybody has come out to see tonight. Screw Lostprophet’s who are playing just down the road. Tonight is Breed 77’s [9/10] night to shine, and with a very eclectic and mind blowing set lined up, Manchester was about to be ripped right open. Unfortunately tonight’s set steers clear of a lot of the songs off of Breed 77’s latest album, Insects, and anthems such as ‘Wake Up’, ‘The Battle of Hatin’ and ‘Insects’ are missed out of the set, but who cares when the band play an eclectic mix of killer tunes spanning across 4 albums, some covers and preview some mind blowing new material.
What is best about tonight’s set is the choice of covers the band choose to perform. Of course, they play their usual rendition of ‘Zombie’ by the Cranberries, but tonight see’s the Gibraltar flamenco metal heroes do a cover of ‘Number of the Beast’ by Iron Maiden and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey. Odd eh. But the way they do them and shape these songs to suit their style really is something to be heard. Not only does lead singer, Paul Isola control the audience in the palm of his hands, getting them to jump up and down, sing along and bang their heads. He also brings so much flare and passion to this beautiful music, adding an extra dimension of excellence to these rather dynamic songs.
It’s true to say that Breed 77 sound just as amazing when doing an acoustic show as they do when playing a full electrical set, and although they may be sat down for the majority of the set, there is still a lot of energy and vibe bouncing around that stage as the astounding encore of ‘The River’ (which seems to be the most anticipated song of the night),’ La Ultima Hora’ and ‘Zombie’ kick in with full force. Make no doubt about it, this acoustic show was still metal; packed full of energy, balls and downright aggression, whilst being played in the most surreal and magnificent way. Breed 77 have blown the roof off once again in Manchester, and after what has been a fun filled night full of great bands, excellent musicianship and weird antics, Breed 77 promise the good people of Manchester that they will back in September… This time with the full shebang!