Review: Attila at The Talking Heads (05/03/2015)

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Atlanta party animals Attila are (in)famous within the metal sphere for their fast-and-hard approach to life, and for their distinctive blend of rap and deathcore. Formed in 2005, and comprising Chris Fronzak (vocals), Chris Linck (guitar), Sean Heenan (bass) and Kalan Blehm (drums), the band were joined by fellow metalcore bands Fathoms and Silent Screams for the UK leg of the Guilty Pleasure World Tour, their first headline tour in this country. The band will also be playing three US dates before touring Australia in April.

The Southampton show at Talking Heads was completely sold out, with fans turning up to queue hours before the doors opened. First support Fathoms put on a less than impressive show. Right from the off the band experienced issues with the microphone, which failed to carry much treble to the back of the room. This wasn’t helped by the monotonous vocals and the uninspiringly simple formula, a constant repetition of beatdown after beatdown at the same tempo for every song – it was a delight and a shock when, during the fourth song, the guitarist ventured up past the first five frets. This would have been tolerable but for the poor choice to up the bass end of the PA system. As a result, Fathoms’ performance was marred by not enough treble and far too much bass, such that the middle range was completely lost. This, coupled with the near constant asking for fans to purchase merchandise and CDs, made the set lethargic and tedious.

Main support act Silent Screams picked up where Fathoms left off. The mic continued to fall short, but the quality of musicianship offered a sometime distraction from these technical hitches. It was a welcome change to hear more fluid beatdowns and playing around at the top of the frets from guitarists Sam Varney and Ozzi Osman, and vocalist Joel Heywood was absolutely on point with excellent tone and projection which, for a while, eliminated the mic issues. There was still a sense of formula to Silent Screams though, but this is a symptom of popularised metalcore in that it serves the purpose of pumping pseudo-brutality into the crowd. Enthused by this, crowd participation kicked off early through the second and third songs, which were absolute bangers. Another technical hitch on stage left mic, which had no feed for a good thirty seconds or so, brought the set’s quality down a little although most of the crowd seemed to busy in the pit to notice.

The headliners came on under heavy, ominous lighting in typical Attila fashion. Fronzak’s unique vocals, a panoply of range and tempo, were less than potent as, once more, the microphone failed to carry to the back of the venue. But the gut-spilling riffs and generally playful guitar added the distinctive Attila flavour to their set. Third song ‘Rage‘ went off like a storm, as did ‘Break Shit‘ and ‘Middle Fingers Up‘. Between songs Fronzak kept the crowd entertained with humorous anecdotes and little nuggets of ‘knowledge’, his favourite proclamation being that there are “no rules at an Attila concert.” Herein lies the essence of Attila as a band: a red-raw, no-fucks attitude with a light hearted twist; a lack of seriousness and a contempt for anything that isn’t drinking or partying. “Fuck school, fuck work, fuck all that bullshit”, from the mouth of the Fronz himself. ‘Shots For The Boys‘, one of the bands most successful tracks, went down well with the crowd as the band entered the home straight of their set. Final song ‘Callout‘ marked the end of an evening comprised mainly of rupturing guitar, blistering vocals and generally uninspiring music.

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MA English student at the University of Southampton and alternative music correspondent for The Edge.

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