Syslosis & Decapitated
Electric Ballroom, London
7th March, 2016
Review by Steven Allen
Photography by Billy Edmonds
So as another dreary Monday brings the beginning of the working week to many, the bustling area of Camden seems to have an extra buzz in the air tonight. Could it be the fact that the nights are staying lighter longer which means that summer might soon be upon us OR could it be the fact that two of metal’s most exciting bands are co-headlining the fantastic Electric Ballroom? Quite frankly my money is on the later, and that’s before even a single chord has been played.
First up tonight are The King Is Blind (2/5) from East Anglia. With a singer who has more than a passing resemblance to WWE’s Big Show, The King is Blind bring their brand of fast and frenetic metal to the stage with an enthusiasm that’s hard to match. Bassist Ceri Monger has his bright red hair flying all the way through the set but sadly tonight it all comes across as a bit too “metal by numbers” and despite the odd banging head or set of horns thrown aloft, most of those that had filtered in off the cold streets outside weren’t inspired to join in, despite the best efforts of front man Stephen Tovey throughout the set.
Co-headliner gigs are always weird for me, because traditionally the band that closes the night headlines. But then it’s not always the band that plays last that plays best and Poland’s Decapitated (5/5) certainly set out to prove that point tonight. Currently touring in support of their most recent release, ‘Blood Mantra’, it was no surprise that the set tonight was heavily culled from there.
As the electrometal-esque intro faded the band launched into a brutal rendition of ‘Exiled in Flesh’ which pretty much set the tone for the next hour. The power and ferocity generated by this band tonight is incredible. In fact they generate way more power than any 4 piece should quite frankly, which is no bad thing as they proceed to use every bit of that power to lay waste to all in front of them tonight.
You wouldn’t know that Decapitated were working to a pretty strict time schedule tonight as nothing is rushed or panicked. Every song sounds as clean crisp and clear as it does on the album, but with the added venom that can only come from being played live. That’s not to say they are taking things easy tonight, there is no such thing as a let up or mid set lull with Decapitated which they prove in fine form with a 1-2 hit of ‘404’ and ‘Day 69’ which keeps the floor moving at full pace.
Singer Rafal Piotrowski is holding a master class in how to be a front man tonight. He gets a bigger reaction to a look or small gesture than most do from a load of mic warble. He can literally command the crowd with a simple flick of his wrist and instantly the floor is opened up for the first of many circle pits tonight.
With the pauses kept to an absolute minimum tonight, Decapitated don’t give anyone a chance to catch their breath and before long we reach the climax of the set and the closing duo of ‘Spheres of Madness’ and ‘Homo Sum’. Both of which serve to remind everyone present not just how brutal they are, but also how tight they are as well.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before Decapitated come back to the UK and hopefully for longer than an hour at a time too.
Regardless of my opinion of who should have been the band to close out the show tonight, it was pretty clear who the crowd tonight were here to see judging by the roar that went up when the house lights went down for the last time signalling the arrival of (nearly) local lads Sylosis (4/5).
Sylosis have been honing their progressive thrash sound for many years now and it’s clear tonight that they have pretty much mastered their craft. A slicker and more fluid unit on stage you’re gonna struggle to find. From the second they walk on stage to a hero’s welcome and blast through opening track ‘Indoctrinated’ until the time they leave us an hour later they scarcely put a foot wrong.
Tracks like ‘Sands of Time and Servitude’ are delivered with such clinical ease that you can’t help but be impressed by Sylosis and the way that front man Josh Middleton not only has the crowd eating out of his hand but also shreds through his solos at the same time. The chaos that ensues when he instructs the room to bounce during ‘Mercy’ is testament that everyone in the crowd agrees.
If I was to have one (very, very minor) complaint about Sylosis tonight, it’s that everything tonight feels a little too slick at times. Almost like it’s been too well rehearsed to the point where the show is almost lacking the rawness of a live gig. this is of course a purely personal opinion and should in no way detract from the fact that Sylosis are definitely one of the best British metal bands around right now. You only have to listen to ‘Empyreal’ to know that.
Sadly it’s ‘Empyreal’ that brings us to the close of play tonight, or at least it would be if it weren’t for the frankly crushing encore of ‘Altered State of Consciousness’ that is. Some songs just feel like they’ve been written to be played live and this is definitely one of them. A great way to end a great night of metal in my book.