Sunday 9 February 2014

Live Review : Kylesa, Sierra, Jagged Vision, Krokodil, The Brudenel, Leeds, UK, 31/1/2014

It’s the end of the week, Friday does cometh; unfortunately so does the traditional English weather.  6 hours of solid rain.  Never the greatest motivation to head up the M1 motorway at the best of times, but given severe weather warnings, there needs to be a good reason to head up north, putting my faith in public transport too, no less.  At the end of the day, the decision was made easy, that reason, Kylesa!!

3 hours later, a brief detour home, one bus, one coach, sodden shoes and a taxi rider later, I arrive at The Brudenel Social Club, Leeds.  The added incentive, getting to meet my fellow sludgelordian and resident Kylesa fan boy and reviewer, Matt Fitton and his lovely wife.    

The Brudenel, is every inch a social club, resident lounge bar resembling the old working men’s club of yore, your favourite ales on tap and possibly even some pork scratchings too.  The venue itself, exudes an old school blues bar vibe, exposed brick wall on the stage with ‘The Brudenel’ emblazoned on the wall, it feels a venue with history and more importantly that all important ‘vibe’. 

With the first beer of the evening in hand, the band Krokodil a late addition to the bill kick things of in caustic fashion.  Featuring current Canaya (local to Leeds) vocalist, ex – members of A, Hexes, Gallows and SiKTH, most notably current Radio 1 Rock show mainman, Daniel P. Carter on guitar, they are welcome addition.  Mastering the art of the chugging riff and with groove in abundance, Krokodil produce a scintillating display, with the vocals being at the heart of everything good, splicing a growled and screamed approach which, if you know Canaya is of the highest order.  The biggest compliment I could give is that if music had been available it would have been purchased.  Amazing breakdowns certainly got you chest beating hard, the only disappointment for me was that they were not given the main stage in which to unleash the full range of their arsenal.  Credit where credit is due though, these dudes travelled a long way to get here today and they delivered a stellar performance and left me thirsty for more.  Do yourselves a favour check out this snapping Krokodil.  Indeed, check out the band Canaya too. 

Next up is the Norwegian Band, Jagged Vision, a blend of hardcore and stoner rock, signed to the Retro Futurist Label.  So what bang, do we get for our buck? For me, having only listened to their debut record, Harvest Earth briefly, I really didn’t know how the band would translate to the stage, indeed the record left me a little lukewarm.  Tonight, however Jagged Vision, with their mix of hardcore, punk and stoner rock came out all guns blazing.  Vocals were vehemently belted out and the musicianship was faultless, indeed the crowd took awhile to warm up to them but I could not fault the commitment of the band.  Gracious in their thanks to crowd, an endearing quality in my eyes, Jagged Vision seemed at ease on stage, exuding confidence, bucketfuls of swagger and a riff quota high and heavy.  Delicious.

Sierra are next up, having not heard their blend of rock, I was reliably informed by present company that they deal in psychedelic stoner rock with a modicum of prog thrown into the mix.  What was apparent from the outset was the depth and range of their songs, at the hard of which were riffs, bone crunching riffs.  I’m talking ‘Vote with a Bullet’ crunch.  Ya dig!  Sierra for me was a real highlight, 3 dudes, the amps and fucking great songs. Ripping songs!! Front man Jason Taylor caressing his Gibson Les Paul, like a mother with their new infant baby and just the same amount of love and affection.  There is also something to be said about a bass player, doing it like Geezer, Robbie Carvalho his fingers like a plectrum, giving that warm and generous tone to the songs. No gimmicks, just the power kicking you in the gut.  Awesome stuff.  The prog element of their songs, is the expansive tone of the music, rich and varied, the riff quota per song is high, with some masterful lead breaks too.   The track PSeptember was the high point of their set for me, ferocious riffs which would make Zakk Wylde blush.  Crushingly heavy and just good old fashioned groove in abundance, the ebb and flow of the band was seamless and just a delight to watch. 

The headliners from Savannah, Georgia finally hit the stage long into the evening.  All is forgiven though, as soon as they open up with a pulsating rendition of Scapegoat.  Whilst far from an expert on this band, Kylesa couldn’t have got it more right in terms of opening up the show.  Static Tensions is the record that hooked me into this band around 5 years and their best record IMO, dealing as it does in tight sludgy riffs and the dual vocals of Pleasants and Cope, this is a crushing start to their 14 song set. 

For me, tonight is all about the percussion and drums. It is often overlooked or perhaps it is due to lack of effect on record, but the presence of two drummers on stage, just add further depth to their songs, indeed the intricacy and timing of both is mind blowing.  A real highlight was the brief drum solo from Carl McGinley (drums), Eric Hernandez (drums), and it just drew me in and had me and the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands.  There are not many bands, who boast this kind of dual drum approach, but it just reminded me of early Neurosis, or the more tribal aspects of Sepultura, say Ratamahatta. Amazing to witness and those guys are just phenomenal, adding so much more to their live show.  Unspoken is up next, one of the stronger tracks from their latest record, but in my opinion, it strayed a little too far away from their traditional sludge sound, though it is another great track tonight.

If one criticism could be levelled at the band tonight, it did seem on occasion, the set was so nailed down, it seemed a little too clinical.  In addition, the guitars, specifically that of Pleasants was very low in the mix and barely audible at times, though that is a minor gripe.  Hollow Severer and Nature’s Predators were vehemently dispatched and then we get the first taste of Spiral Shadow, Tired Climb is one of the strongest tracks on that record and it is an absolute barnburner tonight, vocally, Pleasants sounds amazing and for me Cope was a revelation

Bottom Line from To Walk A Middle Course is another solid track, into Quicksand, the mood and texture of the guitar tones enveloping you, this is a very tranquil tone and sits comfortably against some of the more heavier moments of tonight’s set.  The theramin adding moody ambience to the set, with me jokingly remarking that Dr. Who must be in tonight or words to that effect.  It is a given that To Forget is next, given the qualities of this track, bare strong resemblance to the previous one.  The majestic Long Gone is up next and this is another great tune, which translates to the stage perhaps even better than on the Ultraviolent record.  Again there is a strong percussive element to this tune and it is a drummer’s wet dream, because it is yet another example of the rhythm section nailing things to the wall.  Unknown Awareness, We’re Taking This and Running Red takes us into the tail end of the set.  Perhaps with a fitting Encore, including Don’t Look Back, kinda typifying the journey of an intense touring schedule, with the refrain of ‘keep movin, don’t look back’.

It is close to 11.30pm and Said and Done is just a stunning end to a brilliant evening tonight.  Worth the journey on a cold, wet Friday?  You bet your fucking ass, it was worth it.  Much beer was consumed, I met some ace people and to top it off, all bands were awesome.  I’d say it was pretty much as good as it gets. 

Words by : Aaron Pickford