With their latest record, Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes, under their belts, DEVILMENT‘s extensive headlining run of the UK is coming into full swing. With the band’s fresh lineup and new material giving the British outfit a new lease of life, the question now looms on whether Dani Filth and co’ can bring a captivating live performance.
Shrewsbury’s THE DEVIL IN FAUST had the daunting task of opening proceedings and whilst at this point, the main hall of The Sugarmill was largely empty, this did not phase the three piece outfit. Easily the lightest band on the lineup, the band felt out of place at times through the vocal harmonies from frontman Al Pritchard and bassist Jess. However, for the most part, THE DEVIL IN FAUST did a formidable job as an opening band. Continuously throughout the band’s set, the guitar riffs on show here from Pritchard were impressive enough and the band’s chemistry on stage showcased they know their formula and present it well enough. It may have not been the perfect environment but THE DEVIL IN FAUST served a tight-knitted performance.
Local outfit HEADPRESS are arguably the heaviest band on tonight’s lineup. Through their crunching grooves and thunderous drumwork served to whip the intensity from a crowd that remained completely stationary up this point. And for the most part, the band delivered. From the slick grooves from dual guitarists Martin Allen and Oliver Darlington on opening track Watch Like Cowards to Tim Paling‘s consistently excellent drumming technique, HEADPRESS whipped up a storm on stage. Whilst the crowd remained rigid with little movement on show, there was no denying the intensity to HEADPRESS‘ live sound. Unfortunately at times, sound difficulties reared its ugly head, limiting the impact of Karl Lawton‘s vocal deliveries, but theses issues did not leave lasting damage. The band have been active for 17 years now and their performance, regardless of a few minor niggling issues, showcased a band that demonstrated both professionalism and a colossal wall of sound.
Acting as main support, London’s SHE MUST BURN gave a performance that unfortunately, didn’t fire on all cylinders. For a fair portion of the band’s performance, the band’s chemistry on stage replicated a well-oiled machine; guitarists James Threadwell and Jonny Davies combined well to create strong riffing, albeit delivering rather predictable breakdowns, and the combination of Joseph Sinclair‘s high screams and Aimy Miller‘s clean vocals offered a neat contrast throughout. Joseph Sinclair‘s enthusiasm is to be commended as he paraded the stage and demanded the crowd’s attention as he kept the band’s intensity at top gear. However there is a fine line between displaying enthusiasm and becoming irritating, and whilst it is understandable to ask for increased crowd interaction, repeated demands for audience members to headbang quickly became tiring. That said, whilst their style was largely unimaginative, especially with Sinclair‘s over-reliance to piercing high vocal shrieks, SHE MUST BURN gave everything in their performance, and judging by the wide smiles on the faces of the London outfit, they enjoyed every minute of it.
Whilst Dani Filth will always be remembered for British extreme metal icons CRADLE OF FILTH, DEVILMENT are really growing into their own skin. With two full-lengths now under their belt, the band are really finding their feet and their live performance proved to be a masterstroke. With their latest record, Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes, only being recently released, it made sense that the band’s setlist was largely comprised of new material. And for the better, as it was here where DEVILMENT truly shined. From the opening chaos of JudasStein to the emphatic chorus on Hitchcock Blonde, the band were on top form consistently throughout their performance. Nick Johnson‘s heavy bass tones and Colin Parks‘ guitar work combined incredibly well to create a heavy wall of sound whilst Matt Alston kept the rhythm ebbing and flowing with some truly impressive drum work.
Dani Filth hasn’t always been up to scratch in the live environment, but here, Filth was on explosive form. Delivering continuous lines of his iconic deliveries; from shrieking highs to guttural lows, Filth captured the audience’s attention from start to finish. That, and recurring banter with the energetic crowd ensured that the mood of the performance was in good spirit. What truly complimented Dani Filth‘s lead vocal deliveries was the performance of Lauren Francis. Francis‘ use of the keyboards added haunting melodies to the thunderous riffs and her vocal deliveries acted as the perfect counter-balance to Filth‘s demonic howls. A perfect example of where this truly worked was with Full Dark, No Stars where Dani Filth and Lauren Francis combined beautifully to create a truly breathtaking atmosphere. Throughout their performance, DEVILMENT hardly faltered, instead offering a performance that gave a clear statement that the band is truly becoming a force of its own.
Check out our extensive photo gallery from the night’s action in Stoke-on-Trent from photographer Aypril Loines here: