Monday 11th April 2016
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
With this evening being the first show of the tour, you'd never know, as Canada's Sumo Cyco storm the stage like a well-oiled machine at 7:20pm, for a fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled set of dancehall punk metal madness. The quartet transform Rock City into Cyco City for forty minutes, with an infectiously energetic display of groove-infused heaviness and danceable rhythms. While they receive a good crowd response from the off in the venue's half-full basement, frontwoman Skye "Sever" Sweetnam and her Cyco comrades gradually win over all present as their set of narratives from Cyco City progresses, to the point where she asks everyone to bounce up and down, to which people oblige en masse. A ceaselessly dynamic performer and strong vocalist, Sever's energy seems boundless, as she dances and thrashes her way around the stage, up against the barrier and, at one point, in the middle of the crowd. A sprightly and part-frantic cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Give It Away' heightens audience enthusiasm and an airing of 'Fighter' towards the end of their set seems to spark the most ardent response. All in all, Sumo Cyco impress greatly tonight, although it's all marred ever so slightly by a bass-biased mix through the PA, which renders the guitar barely audible at times. It's also worth mentioning that this was the debut show for the band's newly recruited sticksman, Trozzi, who gels perfectly with his band mates and drums his arse off - a fine addition to their ranks, whether he transpires to be mere touring session player, or a permanent member.
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
Butcher Babies in Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 11th April 2016
Photograph copyright © 2016 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
With the audience nicely warmed up after Sumo Cyco's impressive opening set, Butcher Babies take to the stage and crank up the energy levels to eleven. From the first bars of music, vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey offer up a masterclass in how to front a band, and engaging your audience. At both, they excel. And the audience reciprocate with some intense pit action, occasional crowd surfing, and general metal merriment. And the merriment seems to be purely music-motivated as when Heidi and Carla ask, mid-set, "who's drinking?", barely anyone responds. They both raise a cup regardless to say "cheers" for the first night of the tour, and at least a few punters around the perimeter hold a beer up high.
The songs are fired out fast and furious over the course of seventy minutes, as they fill Rock City's basement with their retro-thrash/modern-metal amalgam. Last year's 'Take It Like a Man' album is heavily represented in their set, including early airings of 'Blonde Girls All Look the Same' and 'The Butcher'; both sounding fantastic in their live incarnations. The ladies are on fine form vocally, with their quasi-formidable dual attack a potent force to behold as they growl, scream, and sing their way through the evening. However, when they perform the balladic 'Thrown Away', Heidi's revealed to have the better voice, as Carla seems to slightly falter, tonally, with her clean singing.
Instrumentally, Butcher Babies are a tight, incisive unit. In particular, sticksman Chrissy Warner impresses behind his kit - this man is a beast of a drummer! Guitarist Henry Flury's riffage and lead work is as astounding live as it is on record, and he successfully manages to embody the essence of thrash from a bygone era, but infused with a contemporary dynamic. Likewise for bassist Jason Klein, who currently seems to be aiming for an Alex Skolnick look, with the streaks in his all-too similar hairdo!
A sinisterly conceived cover of Napoleon XIV's 'They're Coming to Take Me Away' makes for an ephemeral divergence away from the band's own material, and Heidi's appearance bang in the middle of the crowd towards the end of the set seems to take many by surprise. And when she requests that people circle around her as she sings, a few accept, and a small circle pit ensues. And I'm sure it must be a case of dizziness, rather than intentional mosh action, when one punter seems to briefly crash into Heidi.
'Goliath' track 'Axe Wound' wraps up the night and the band exit the stage, punters linger in the hope of an encore, but house lights are turned on, music is pumped through the PA, so it's something of an abrupt finale. However, no-one seems to be complaining after 60+ minutes of compelling metal intensity. A fine start to the tour and a jovial night all round.