Camden boozer-come-venue The Black Heart is the intimate venue of choice for EXIST IMMORTAL‘s first show of 2018, and they’ve got some serious musical talent supporting them in the form of OPENSIGHT, TEMPLES ON MARS, YOU WIN AGAIN GRAVITY and VALIS ABLAZE. It’s time to rock up and rock out.
When a band refers to their sound as “cinematic metal”, it’s always an intriguing (and perhaps indulgent) description. In the case of London’s OPENSIGHT, they certainly possess the necessary musical chops to back up such a dramatic moniker. The four-piece may have started out as a prog-metal collective, but the next thirty minutes groove by in a seamless blend of expansive melodies, thunderous down-tuned basslines and metallic energy – making this performance feel like more of a dynamic concept than mere music. Focusing primarily on material from 2015 EP Ulterior Motives, vocalist and guitarist Ivan David frequently engages with the relatively nonchalant throng before him, but ultimately the strength of this band’s gloriously twisted eclecticism ensures all eyes are facing forward.
Rebranding and reinvention is the name of the game for TEMPLES ON MARS (formerly known as AGENT) in 2018, and the prog-rockers concluded tonight would provide an ideal opportunity to showcase both a revitalised line-up and an evolving sound. Sadly, the soul-stirring lyrics and earworm hooks upon which their seismic live show are built on are eclipsed by sound issues – namely a mediocre PA system which proceeds to drown out everyone except drummer Dean Gibb. Technical gremlins aside, on the occasions these guys can be heard, their unmistakable passion and artistic cohesion shines through and proves to be a winning combination. Current single So In Love With Your Own Drug is nothing short of addictive, and a thrilling indicator of what’s yet to come from the TEMPLES ON MARS contingent.
YOU WIN AGAIN GRAVITY‘s technical post-hardcore is designed to blow even the strongest of cobwebs away, but the ongoing battle to remain audible proves a struggle. Hypnotic cleans collide with harsh growls on songs like Grace & Focus – those serene opening refrains are undeniably hair-raising, whilst elsewhere progressive interludes sit easily alongside mathcore elements. From DEFTONES to NORTHLANE and CIRCA SURVIVE, the quintet run the gamut as the array of influences coursing through the expansive heart of debut mini-album Anonymity burst forth. It’s just unfortunate that the crushing riffs and melodic and dynamic shifts that take the listener on that immersive journey on record are lost in translation here.
VALIS ABLAZE have truly blazed a proverbial trail across the prog spectrum since their inception back in 2013 and with a powerful arsenal of djent-tinged riffs, dreamy atmospherics and Phil Owen’s soaring vocal lines, it all makes for a performance drenched in heady drama. Like fellow contemporaries VOLA and TESSERACT, there’s a distinct emotional shimmer to current EP Insularity and the cuts that are showcased live deliver delicate ambience as well as anthemic grooves. Plenty of slap bass kicks and thundering drums almost pummel this audience into welcome submission, whilst the remainder of the rhythm section never falter when it comes to the irrepressible levels of energy displayed on stage. With a sound that continues to refine itself, this five-piece have the ability to set 2018 on fire.
With their undeniable gift of song-writing clarity and an effortless ability to construct sonic soundscapes, EXIST IMMORTAL are at their soul stirring best in a live capacity. It is therefore an absolute travesty that the quintet fall foul of the continuing sound problems, and it means the hypnotising electronica at the atmospheric core of their sound loses its undulating power. What EXIST IMMORTAL do have however, is a steadfast refusal to be defeated and vocal powerhouse Meyrick de la Fuente stood defiantly at the helm. His searing cleans on tracks like the beautifully belligerent Follow Alone are nothing short of astounding and legitimately have the emotional propensity to reduce the most stoic of onlookers to tears. The polyrhythmic grooves are omnipresent as are the crunching riffs and melodic heft that bleeds through during the instrumental interludes. The heaviest moment of the headliner’s set undoubtedly comes in the form of axeman Kurt Valencia windmilling so fiercely that he cracks his eye socket on someone else’s skull – now that’s what Distorted Sound calls taking it to performance levels of brutish proportions.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in London from Jorden Mclaughlin photography here: