Protest the Hero @ O2 Islington Academy
9th March 2012
Support from Long Distance Calling, Blood Command and Uneven Structure.
Review by James Meakin
Photography by Luke Osborne
Toronto’s tech punk metal outfit reign in London with a fantastic line up of Europe’s finest in support!
Opening the evening is French tech riff display team Uneven Structure.
This band proves the old analogy that a band is not the sum of its parts.
Five mind bogglingly incredible musicians demonstrate exactly what is possible in the world of polyrhythmic chug and cerebral progressive tech music. Vocalist Matthieu Romarin performs at the top of his game, with videos of recording studio takes going viral online and circling amongst the djent forums one would need to be.
However the vocal performance on the record seems to be somewhat out of even Romarin’s live vocal range.
Triple threat guitars create huge noise with scalpel like precision; dreads fly building gallons of atmosphere.
The missing ingredient is the soul, the natural unpredictability; everything is so surgical there is nothing special about the performance. The performance becomes extremely impersonal and the distance between the fledgling audience and the band seems gigantic.
Uneven Structure are gathering pace in the increasingly vocal djent online community are quickly picking up ground on the Tesseracts and the Chimp Spanners of the metal sphere but the hollowness of their show in comparison to their counterparts show there still is a very, very long way to go. [2/5]
We then move across the North Sea to Norway; Blood Command are a female fronted rock band with a hardcore punk twinge.
Blood Command really give it the beans on their set.
The sound crosses somewhere between Guano Apes and Comeback Kid. Vocalist Silje Tombre is vocally outstanding with a lush, dynamic range during the melodic passages with a sharp shrill scream slicing magnificently through the ever growing audience.
However, Tombre lacks stage presence and on stage magnetism and despite having a fantastic set of pipes her performance fronting the band lets her down.
The gruff hardcore/post hardcore riffs are this bands selling point and well worth the price of admission and the pace of their set is wonderful but there is nothing to hook the listener, no kick in the plums where desired.
In stark contrast to the evening’s openers, Blood Command are all admirable passion and soul but little musically to keep the audience involved. [3/5]
Grab a train back to Germany for post rock riff lords Long Distance Calling.
The band put together a hugely enjoyable and extremely accessible show for a band with no front man. They hold a lesson in how to keep an audience of half drunken metal heads glued to the stage with only the raising of the mighty devil horns between songs.
Long Distance Calling fuses post rock Isis-esque weight with classic rock Zeppelin ‘Physical Graffiti’ era glue.
Obviously there is plenty of Sabbath in there with Pelican like savagery maintaining a level of relevance that enhances the post rock cause.
Changes in dynamic keep the set fresh and the music is simply a great warm up for the evening’s headliners. [4/5]
The lights go out and Rody Walker walks on the stage on his own. The crowd is deafening but he asks for quiet, he then plays a note perfect version of the American national anthem on his phone followed by the call to arms ‘We are Protest the Hero from Toronto Ontario Canada’.
The frenetic explosion of aural pleasure which comes with their opener ‘Sex Tapes’ is jaw dropping.
The audience consists of an extremely broad spectrum of the alternative community, during a break between songs Rody Walker singles out two punks with Mohawks to ask them who got the hawk first as the first of several comedic breaks between songs.
Walker is hilarious, a piece about the feted stink of his genitals, laughing with crowd surfers and making fun of other bands mid set erectile problems is all side splittingly funny.
I would pay good money to simply see this gent do a stand up set. Arif Mirabdolbaghi bass work is technical, intense and if it wasn’t for Walkers on stage antics it would be impossible to take your eyes off him.
The rest of the band seems to play relentless sweeping guitar passages consistently and never jeopardise their hair flailing stage show. ‘Hair-Trigger’ brings the house down and the closer ‘C’est la Vie’ tests the foundations of the building.
If you are not listening to Protest the Hero yet, pick up their albums but just go to the show.
No encore, that’s enough tech power heaviness, absolutely fantastic! [5/5]
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C’est la Vie