Ashestoangels at The Joiners (20/01/2014)

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Ashestoangels gigs are like buses. No, not because they’re noisy and filled with violent people, but because you can wait ages for one to come near you and then get 2 in quick succession.  At the end of last year they came and tore The Joiners apart with their long-time tour buddies DEAD and an eclectic selection of support acts (check out the review here).  Just over a month later they have returned, ahead of their upcoming appearance at Southampton University’s very own Takedown festival, and with a very different, and notably heavier, set of local Southern bands sharing their bill.

One of those bands was Awake The Wounded, a band that fully embraced the classic hardcore/metalcore sound, with the minor tweak of having two vocalists instead of one. They weren’t bad, there were definitely some good riffs floating around, but they fell into the easy trap of making all their songs sound rather similar; overall their performance was mediocre. Also, they were ridiculously unprofessional, with the two vocalists often wandering round the stage as if they were confused as to what they were doing there and seemingly forgetting to sing for whole sections of their songs. There’s being enjoyably chaotic, and there’s just being sloppy and Awake The Wounded remained firmly in the latter camp. This was a shame considering the promise they showed early on in their set.

Next up were Infamous Nobody, another heavy metal band with some metalcore influences in their sound. However, they did a substantially better job with that basic premise than Awake The Wounded and actually sounded rather good. Oh, and they managed to remember all their words as well, which is always a bonus. There was certainly a bit of Trivium in their sound, and maybe a little bit of Bullet for My Valentine’s heavier moments too. However they still managed to sound original due to frontman Mike Axton’s distinctive vocals. Round that out with some crushingly heavy guitar work and a couple of decent songs and you have a band who showed that it’s actually possible to make heavy metal with breakdowns that doesn’t sound like it’s been assembled by Killswitch Engage-loving robots on a production line.

Next support of the night were Andover based metalcore band These Days Are Numbered, who strode onto the stage to a hero’s welcome, which (somewhat inexplicably) continued throughout their set. They were a very average band, with more talent and stage presence than had been displayed by Awake The Wounded earlier in the evening, but still not as original or polished as Infamous Nobody before them. Despite this, and their general metalcore by numbers approach, they basked in utter crowd adoration for the entirety of their performance. They incited some of the most violent mosh pits and walls of death I’ve ever seen in The Joiners, with one crowd member continuing to headbang even as blood streamed from his almost certainly broken nose. Even the lead singer of the band seemed a bit surprised at that. It was not a fun experience for anyone with the slightest interest in self-preservation at all.

Thankfully, most of the serious hardcore kids in the mosh pit decamped to the bar after These Days are Numbered finished. This meant that those of us who actually wanted to keep our teeth could at least attempt to watch Ashestoangels without being knocked out by a flying fist. They sounded great, their songs were catchy and energy levels stratospheric, as always. Their songs always have a strong melody to underpin the chaos, and that provided a welcome respite after the endlessly repetitive metalcore that went before. Overall, they’re still a great live band and after seeing this show, anticipation for their performance at Takedown is higher than ever. And, if you still haven’t got tickets for Takedown, you can buy them cheap direct from the band here.

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