…And Heavy Metal For Wigan
January Showcase: The Boulevard – Wigan
Review by Rob Sutton
The boulevard, Wigan, is a venue I’ve been to, and spoken about, in previous reviews so I am not going to waste your time by saying it all again, I’ll just say it’s a great venue! And even though this January showcase clashed with a lot of other gigs in the North West, there was a fairly good turnout, and this was down to the promoter and the fact that the line up was fantastic!
This was my first gig of 2022 and the first band had a lot of unknown pressure on them because of this! 2021 was incredible for me in terms of gigs and finding new bands and this first band were not only new to me, but also new to the stage, playing their first ever show! Judging by the way the first song went, there were a lot of nerves, thus it was a little ropey. However, once they heard the cheers after the first song their confidence sky-rocketed and they presented the crowd with a fantastic mix of Prog/Tech Death and Djent. Throughout the set the riffs were on another level, with a clear mix of heavy and technical. Throw in with this some powerful growls and some good cleans, and it really hit the spot. Having said this, their presence onstage was far from confident, but I think with time this will definitely improve, as these guys seriously have talent. That imposing nature which goes with this genre will come. Technologist also made a note to introduce ‘Reborn’ and I am glad they did! This was by far the strongest song of their set, and showcased their ability to blend both brutality and melody to perfection. For the first band of 2022 this was a surprise and a welcome one. By far and away the best debut show I have ever seen!
A very late addition to the gig was Karma’s Puppet, who I did review late last year in Macclesfield. At that gig I commented on the clean vocals not quite being my cup of tea, but this time they seemed a little more refined – somehow they seemed to have upped their game in a month! There was a very Alter Bridge feel to the cleans and it worked. Add these to the Linkin Park style screams and you have a Groovy/Hard Metal style, coupled with old school mid 00’s Metalcore, and almost Bullet for my Valentine style music, and it creates catchy, nostalgic brilliance. Karma’s Puppet brought an atmosphere of professionalism (when they remembered the song order!) that feels like they should be playing bigger stages. They probably should have been higher on this bill, but again they were a last minute addition. To pick a little bit at this set, Simon (Mayo) needs to get closer to the mic when providing backing vocals, as most of the time we couldn’t hear him at all. Also a few of the breakdowns did end up sounding a little samey, but Karma’s Puppet packed so much energy into this set and made their 30 minutes fly by that quickly, that I actually wanted so much more, this was such a huge improvement on the first time I saw them, and they even threw in an absolute belter of a new song. Honestly watch these guys! This was amazing!
Dive South were next up – again another band I have not seen before. Looking at the logo I was expecting their set to be very heavy – Deathcore or heavier. What I was met with was strangely, Metalcore? Now I am a huge fan of Metalcore, most of the gigs I went to last year were Metalcore. However, the addition of clean vocals here did nothing for me. In some cases they were flat and dare I say, sounded like karaoke. Their second song was a prime example of this. Although, as a complete contrast to this, their heavier, more growly side was exceptional, their breakdowns and low vocals really reminded me of old school Parkway Drive and this got my head moving. Dive South also suffered with a few technical difficulties and while the vocalist did his best to try and cover up the issues, these were still blatantly obvious to the audience. At no point am I saying that Dive South are a bad band but this set didn’t show what I believe is their hidden true potential. The pieces are most certainly here but I feel they need to play to their strengths and not what the rest of the genre does.
If you have read any of my reviews before then you have probably heard the name Asleep At The Helm. I have previously raved about these guys and even put their live set in Blackpool in my top 10 of 2021. I will be straight up and honest first off, this wasn’t as good as that set. But that is by no means saying this was a bad set; in fact it was far from it. Despite being down a bassist, you could not tell, as the low end on both guitars covered this beautifully, meaning the sound was as full as ever. I always love a cheeky use of backing tracks and yet again these guys used them sparingly but effectively. This was also one of their first gigs showcasing their new album, “Keepsake” (absolute gem of an album which they need to send for review). The new songs they played from this sounded fantastic. They have so much oomph live and they had the crowd completely in their hands when they threw in a couple of oldies. Their set saw the only pits of the night, including spin kicking and leaving me with a very sore back, neck, and life for the next 3 days! If you can’t tell, I love this band, they are the new age of Metalcore, which I cannot get enough of. There were a couple of slip ups and mistakes but all in all, this was another fantastic set from them. I seriously cannot recommend these guys enough!
The Boulevard is an amazing venue and while I hear people say that the line ups on here get a bit samey, I can’t see it! This was a night where 2 bands I have seen before stepped it up and 2 bands that I haven’t seen before made me want to see them again. Oli at …And Heavy Metal For Wigan smashed it yet again and I will be back again as much as I can!
One more shout out for tonight. Sadly 40,000 Leagues couldn’t play due to the dreaded virus and I was looking forward to watching them again but despite this 2 of the members did turn up to the gig and this was incredible to see. I’ve already reviewed them and if you haven’t heard them, go check them!
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