Embodiment, Any Given Reason, Ambrius, Chaplain
The Rigger, Stoke
Live Review by Rob Sutton
It’s been a whole year since I’ve been to a gig or even done a review… right, got that terrible joke out the way. My first gig of the year has me heading to Stoke and The Rigger, a venue I am very familiar with having gigged there numerous times with Thrashatouille. The Rigger ticks all the boxes when it comes to a venue: good stage, pool tables, reasonable prices and good sound. The one thing that did let the venue down was the toilets as the urinal trough was practically a swimming pool even when we turned up. Aside from that, we had 4 bands to look forward to so let’s crack on.
First up was Coventry based Chaplain who brought a very riff based sound. Now I will state that I walked in a little late so I did miss the first song but the second song when I walked in really gripped me by the neck. There was a solid amount of groove with a good range of vocals and this continued into the following song. Safe to say I was ready for the rest of the set. Although the following songs didn’t have quite the same punch as the first two, they still held their own and the amount of energy all members showed on stage was phenomenal. Both guitarists bouncing around headbanging, bassist shouting at the crowd and the vocalist getting in the audience’s faces. It all worked and created a very engaging set. To sum Chaplain up, there isn’t much that’s reinventing the wheel but this was an incredibly tight and enjoyable set. If you love your no bullshit metal then you will love Chaplain.
Gloucester based Ambrius hit the stage next and I had previously heard a lot about these guys but never had the chance to see them until now. Boy, did these guys blow me away! Right from the first song the guitar melodies and solos were just on another level, and while the growls fit the sound Ambrius are going for it was when the clean singing hit that Ambrius were really elevated. The range of the vocalist is just insane. It’s rare enough to find someone who can sing and growl but to be able to hit the notes that this guy can hit stunned me. In fairness the whole set was impressively tight and their use of backing tracks and pedal boards for the additional guitar harmonies and vocal harmonies just worked beautifully, however I feel like they could have gone straight into the songs after the intro as having the count in did kill a bit of the energy. Overall Ambrius’ prog metal sound really struck a chord for me, their musicianship was to die for, and these are some seriously talented lads!
Any Given Reason hit the stage with a clear sponsorship from RedBull as both vocalists bounce on and off the stage, into the crowd and just everywhere! Oh, and it’s not like the rest of them stand still either as there is plenty of headbanging going on onstage. Now these guys have gone for a more nu-metal/metalcore crossover which does work really well. The chemistry between the 2 vocalists during the songs makes the transitions between them seamless. Between the songs however there is a little bit of talking over each other, as well as way too much talking. I get it when the technical problems hit but before this there was a good 3 or 4 mins of chat. Yeah it does kind of pump the crowd but it did get a bit much. Realistically though I can’t complain much here. Yeah Any Given Reason weren’t the tightest and there was a bit too much banter but they were incredibly energetic and honestly so much fun to watch on stage!
Rounding out the night is Bristol Tech Death giants Embodiment. I personally have been excited to see these for a long time as sadly they had to pull out of Birmingham summer smash last year. Straight off the bat there is a massive delay before they take to the stage which i can only assume is down to some technical gremlins but when they kick in, my word we were in for a treat! Blistering drums, insanely paced guitar riffs and monster vocals. Everything about them fits the genre perfectly and technically it’s brilliant! I also particularly enjoyed the vocalist’s banter between songs as he is quite a character connecting with the crowd on a personal and humorous level, which really adds so much to their show. Now I will point out that they are only a 3 piece at the moment and while they did have backing tracks the stage did look empty and there was a small lack of low end that a bass would provide. Also the technical issues did continue as during one song the guitar completely cut out forcing them to stop and restart. Far from ideal but these things happen. As well as this the set was far shorter than planned which did leave the crowd wanting more. They did promise to come back and I hope they do and bring a full headline set. Aside from the issues when they hit the songs they were impeccable and stupidly tight but this was just one of those sets where things didn’t quite go to plan.
For my first gig of 2023 this was a belting way to start, all the bands were fantastic and the venue was packed. I guess the scene in Stoke really is alive and kicking!
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