REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
King Abyss PHOTO by DAN FELLOWS
Last year, Matt Hudson and Rhys Bryan, the duo who make up Staffordshire heavy metal outfit Doomsday Sun, put on an evening of live sets performed by an assortment of talented Midlands rock and metal bands in their local town of Uttoxeter, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research.
Following the huge success of that, it was inevitable that another evening would be on the cards, and so, towards the end of October, the town’s go-to place for rock, The Old Star, a pub situated just behind Uttoxeter’s market place, prepared to play host to the second Chords Against Cancer.
Birmingham sextet Failure Is An Option were the first band on, however, due to them being stuck in the Friday rush hour traffic, they were late arriving, meaning their set, and the evening, had a delayed start.
Nobody seemed to mind, though, to be honest with you, their lateness probably helped, as by the time they got on the stage, situated outdoors in the pub’s beer garden, the place was already packed.
For the majority of the gigs that I have covered in the almost two years that Muzak Review has been going, the opening outfit has often played to a sparse, slightly uninterested crowd, but this was truly an exception, as it seemed that every rock and metal enthusiast from Uttoxeter and the surrounding area was in attendance.
The Brummies launched full throttle into their performance, impressing with an intense mix of metalcore, post-hardcore and djent.
Brandon Hart, one of the band’s two vocalists, added some humour to proceedings, teasing Matt Jeffries, his fellow vocalist, for his support of fallen football giants Aston Villa, and asking the audience to express sympathy for him.
Also during the set, Brandon grabbed one of the yellow plastic buckets that were being used for the venue’s patrons to make a donation, pointed at it, and went into full Bob Geldof at Live Aid mode, shouting, “Put some fucking money in there!”
Credit to the six-piece for getting the evening off to a good start.
Next up were an emerging local band by the name of Vox Populi. Doing some homework on the bands in the run-up to the event, I hadn’t been able to find much info on these guys, so their set was the very first time that i had heard their music.
They gave a strong performance, playing a sound that was reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine, with the inclusion of some lengthy instrumentals.
Their frontman, Lee Sellers, rather like Brandon before him, used the interludes between songs as an outlet for some humorous banter.
It was under Vox Populi’s watch that we had our first moshpit of the night, with some members of the crowd rushing up to the edge of the stage and engaging in some playful shoving, with one even taking the opportunity, when the band had finished, to get up and take a small leap off the stage.
As I was doing an interview with Failure Is An Option at the time Afterburn started to play, I missed the first half, which was a shame, but I managed to finish things just in time for a fantastic cover of the Steppenwolf classic, ‘Born To Be Wild’, which, along with their sound harking back to classic metal, had some of the more seasoned crowd members lapping it up.
The Chesterfield quintet ended their set by premiering a brand new track, which they said beforehand was a little different to what they had done up to now.
However, the song got the same positive reaction as the rest of their set list.
The fourth band, and the second local outfit, of the evening were five-piece King Abyss.
Even before they had played a single note, they were cheered, and that’s the good thing about small town music scenes, like I saw with Anonymous at the same venue on a couple of occasions, and last year with Rage Cave in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the bands are well supported, and that would have been the case even if King Abyss had played their entire set completely out of tune and littered with mistakes.
However, that was certainly not the case, as they brought the place down with a mix of aggressive thrash metal and more melodic fare. With all five band members having different artistic styles, they managed to join it all up together well, to create a sound that was truly original.
Having chatted with two of the guys, Sam and Jay, prior to the start of the event, they had said to me that they prioritise playing the best possible live set. This determination, as well as playing on home turf, definitely helped them in pulling off a great performance.
Even though it will be harder for them to energise the crowd like they did here when they play in other towns and cities, where they are not as well-known, having watched them for the first time here, I had the same gut feeling that I had had when I first saw Anonymous three years ago, and I’ve seen since, first-hand, how well they have proved themselves in other places.
The final performance of the night came from headliners Doomsday Sun. You could immediately sense that their set wasn’t going to be a jolly one, with a placard saying “THE END IS NIGH” in big letters just in front of the stage, as well as the dark suits and make-up the duo were both wearing. However, their attire befitted their doom-enriched metal sound.
As they played tracks from their well-received EP, ‘Red Light Fever’, their output was thought-provoking, reflecting on a post-apocalyptic world. Judging by recent world events, the two were probably giving everyone a taster of what to expect, should any of the major world leaders press the big red button.
Doomsday Sun are an outfit that hark back to an age where musical talent was deemed higher than good looks, and I personally believe, if they start getting more exposure, then in a couple of years, they could be a real force to be reckoned with.
The Midlands was the birthplace of heavy metal, and it was good to see, even now, that the region still has an abundance of great talent in that genre.
It was a great night, made even better by the fact that it was all in aid of a good cause.