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Opening act on The Ocean/Burst's European joint headline tour are Finnish deathsters Medeia and with soundchecks running somewhat late, they don't appear onstage until three quarters of an hour after the published time. With tonight's show taking place in the Corporation's smallest room due to low pre-sales, it is only a small gathering of metallers who occupy the intimate confines of the 200 capacity space, although I am quite surprised by the substantial height and depth of the stage for such a tiny venue. Truncating their set slightly due to the delayed start, Medeia make the most of their short slot and assault the crowd's senses with their incisively heavy experimental death sounds. Tight, solid, and incredibly loud, the Finnish quintet eschew a stereotypical metal image and perhaps look a little mismatched as a band, although one cannot deny the hard-hitting intensity of their music, and with a wildly energetic performance, seemingly win over much of the small crowd present. Laura Dziadulewicz's keys add a further dimension to Medeia's death metal output although these are unfortunately lost in the mix tonight and perhaps unnecessarily loud sound through the PA for such a small room. Overall, though, a great opening band and certainly a name to look out for in the future.
Thursday 12th March 2009
Corporation in Sheffield, UK
And so onto Vancouver based band Bison B.C. Signing to Metal Blade last year, their first release for that label, 'Quiet Earth', the follow up to 2007's debut 'Earthbound' on Forest Records, received widespread rave reviews. And justifiably so, for its effective blend of doom/stoner/thrash and traditional metal made for a refreshingly exciting, riff-based exercise in both retro-pastiche and contemporary heaviness. In their thirty minute slot, they deliver the material with engaging enthusiasm as huge riffs galore boom from the PA speakers to prove that genuine heaviness in a band's sound is to be found in the composition of a song rather than a barrage of blast-beats and 1000 bpm tempos etc. Frontman James Farwell is humorous in his between song rambles, and I can't help but think band members are perhaps behind with their laundry as guitarist Dan And and drummer Brad Mackinnon are wearing the other bands' merch! With the majority of Bison B.C.'s material riff-driven, it is backed by the solid rhythm section of bassist Masa Anzai and Mackinnon, and it's interesting to note that the former often wanders towards the back of the stage to stand by the drum kit as the two of them visibly communicate with each other as they play. A mightily impressive live act, I still fail to see why so many journalists compare Bison B.C. to Mastodon. Aside from facial hair similarities, they are musically disparate and I wonder if Farwell's 'Society of Vertebrate Paleontology' t-shirt is an ironic nod towards Mastodon's namesake.
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Having seen The Ocean on Opeth's European tour last November with a stripped-down short support slot, I was relishing the opportunity to catch them again so soon with a longer set. Renowned for their live gigs where lights and projections are sequenced to the music for an overall aural/visual impact, tonight's performance transpires to be just that. And very effective it is too. Add to that mix the band's dynamic stage presence and a rampant smoke machine (which covers the entire audience at certain points!), The Ocean are a visually entrancing spectacle. As they play, there is a noticeable buzz in the air throughout the venue's largest crowd of the evening - I guess many turned out solely to see The Ocean. Still riding high on the awesomeness of their magnificent 'Precambrian' opus, the present 'collective' are perhaps at their heaviest tonight, opting to play their harder hitting numbers with only passages within 'Orosirian: For the Great Blue Cold Now Reigns' and 'Ectasian: De Profundis' providing some of the more lighter moments in proceedings. In fact, it is the airing of 'Ecstasian' towards the end of their set that engenders the night's first (and it transpires only) real crowd movement as a raucous, although good humoured, pit ensues. The Ocean are quite stunning this evening and the efficacious combination of the sonic intensity with slickly sequenced visuals works a treat. Uniquely brilliant.
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Alternating headline slots with The Ocean on this tour, tonight is Burst's turn to close proceedings. I admit to being a newcomer to the Swedes' music, having only recently discovered them through latest album, the brilliantly progressive and sublime 'Lazarus Bird'. Upon hearing that album, I cursed myself for not discovering them sooner as the talented Swedish quintet are one of the most original and musically innovative bands I've heard in a long time. As Burst take to the stage, the venue has unfortunately half emptied which either confirms my earlier observation that many were in attendance just for The Ocean, or perhaps delays in the schedule has rendered it too late for others to stay until the later than planned end. Whatever the reason, those that opted to leave miss a performance of sheer musical awesomeness that is both aesthetically moving and profoundly engaging through the progressively organic diversity of styles in their compositions. From set opener '(We Watched) The Silver Rain' to final song 'I Hold Vertigo' and the likes of 'I Exterminate the I' in between, Burst give a polished, professional performance of skilled musicianship that is impressively tight in its delivery. They shift with flawless ease between each varied passage of music as groove-driven guitar riffs are contraposed with ambient sections and pastiched prog-rock influences to good effect. Vocalist Linus Jägerskog is a quintessential frontman, presiding over the audience with his tall stature and passionately growling his way through every lyric. It is amusing when he alludes to the small room's abnormally high/deep stage, informing the crowd that "our drummer is actually naked!". With a pristine sound through the PA, by far the best of the evening, it's pleasing that the night is not subject to a restrictive curfew that all too often plagues delayed gigs in other venues, as Burst are allowed to play their full set. And they are breathtakingly awesome beyond words.
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