Lying between Manchester and Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent is starved of good quality tours. With the majority of international touring bands opting to perform in the more dense urban areas, when bands do perform in the potteries it’s important that support is shown in abundance to encourage the heavy music scene to thrive. Seeing off a short run of dates across the UK Irish noise-makers UNYIELDING LOVE and anarchist black metallers DAWN RAY’D took to igniting Stoke on the final night of their tour and we ventured to Pilgrims Pit to see how it unfolded.
On first glance, an attendance less than 100 people would normally indicate a lack of support but given the sheer close proximity of the evening’s venue, it actually proved testament to creating an intimate atmosphere. This worked wonders for opening act KRUPSKAYA who displayed a visceral and ear-splitting live sound throughout their set. The local trio’s blend of grindcore was imposing as it was tight with a solid chemistry between lead vocalist Alex‘s high shrieks and bassist Matt‘s rumbling growls proving the spearhead for their live sound. Clocking in with blistering speed from Ed‘s drums, hammering riffs and witty stage banter between songs, KRUPSKAYA provided a solid opening set and showed that extreme music is well and truly alive in Stoke-on-Trent.
Announcing themselves at the tail-end of last year with the stunning The Unlawful Assembly, there is a lot of excitement surrounding Liverpudlian trio DAWN RAY’D. Their expansive soundscape and outspoken political and social commentary explored on their debut is as elaborate as it is crushing so, naturally, there would be question marks as to whether the band could replicate this in the live environment; especially given the close proximity of the evening’s venue. However, DAWN RAY’D quashed any lingering doubts as they provided a performance of sheer excellence. Matthew Broadley provided blastbeats in abundance keeping the pace at breakneck speed, Fabian Devlin‘s solitary riffs held their own and added that razor-sharp edge to their sound and Simon Barr‘s vocal shrieks matched the core sound associated with the genre’s sonic makeup. And whilst it would be fair to state that DAWN RAY’D‘s execution of black metal was utterly solid, but where they truly shone was when the band subsided into gorgeous melody. Soft percussion drumming, intricate guitar leads and a stunning execution on the violin, especially on The Abyssal Plain, from Barr created a moving and enticing atmosphere, one which raised the hairs on the back of your neck. A stunning performance from a band that are stamping their name on UK black metal.
Irish noise-makers UNYIELDING LOVE have a tough task in following the sheer brilliance of DAWN RAY’D and whilst their blend of gut-wrenching grindcore may lack the soft and soaring melodies of their main support, the quartet provide a blistering and explosive finale to the evening’s proceedings. Rapid-fire drumming from David Mahony replicates a machine-gun that keeps the rhythm rattling forward at top speed whilst Matthew Medlow‘s chunky riffs are laced with bite and venom, that just encouraged heads to bang. At the heart of their sonic maelstrom was Richard Carson who unleashed bout after bout of guttural growls and shrieks that encapsulated the uncompromising nature of UNYIELDING LOVE‘s live sound. What further bolstered this was the use of the sampling board manned by Carson who utilised this tool to great effect as dread, doom and distortion bolstered the impact of their performance. A sonically violent and blistering performance marked the end of a wonderful night of extreme music, one that injected some much needed metal into the city of Stoke-on-Trent.
Check out our photo gallery from the explosive night in Stoke-on-Trent from photographer Jordan Darby here: