Live Review by Helen Tytherleigh
The Cockpit isn't the biggest of venues in Leeds, but because of its small size it has an intimate atmosphere that makes gigs just that bit more special. Tonight's show was in the second biggest room, the biggest being used as a backstage area for the bands. There was a fair turnout despite the obscurity of the line-up - progressive metal can be quite an acquired taste.
Promptly kicking off the evening at 7.20pm were Structures, hailing from Toronto Canada. Frontman Nick Xourafas was wearing what looked like a raincoat of some sorts, I know we've got bad weather in the UK, but really? He must have been baking up there. The progressive, hardcore five piece band failed to really get the crowd going, but from the nods of heads and rapturous applause they appeared to be well received. They certainly put on an excellent opening act and set a high standard for the rest of the evening.
Next up were LA based Volumes, another progressive metal band but with a groove to their riffs and brutal vocals screamed from their two vocalists: Michael Barr and Gus Faris. They sure don't look like your stereotypical metal band (you'd think at least one member would have longish hair), but they know damn well how to get a pit well and truly started. The Cockpit erupted on command and was jumping to their crazy rhythmical beats. They were my favourite of the night and the highlight was when they played 'Wormholes', a pure beast of a song.
Succeeding Volumes were Swedish band Vildhjarta (pronounced: vild-yaa-ta). With their crazy, barely pronounceable name, blond hair and beards came aggressive riffs with a powerful impact. The sextet have an intense, dark sound, similar to that of progressive Swedish metallers Meshuggah. Three bands in and the audience was well and truly warmed up, though there was a feeling everyone was slightly saving themselves for the two bands left to come.
From Scandinavia we move swiftly into Central Europe, as French boys Betraying the Martyrs followed suit with some refreshing metal bordering hardcore. According to frontman Aaron Matts, Leeds' metal scene isn't what it used to be. Apparently if you ever mentioned you were going to a gig in Leeds people would warn you to stay out of the violent moshpits. He went on to say that Leeds has now lost that rep and subsequently challenged us to bring it back. Needless to say, he was not left disappointed. Betraying the Martyrs have the addition of a keyboardist who also does clean backing singing, a great contrast to Aaron's death growls.
One highlight of the show's presentation the platform, located centre stage. The frontmen of each band appeared like a giant and was able to physically tower over the crowd. Visually, it looked excellent and meant we could see the whole of each vocalist, rather than just from the waist up.
Finally, the band we had all been waiting for graced the stage: Chicago's Veil of Maya. Whilst most technical, mathcore bands will have seven, sometimes eight string guitars, Veil of Maya's guitarist Marc Okubo plays it safe with the standard six string. However, that's not to put him down as Marc is one of the most skilful guitarists in the tech metal scene. Meanwhile, on the other side of the stage their bassist wields a seven string bass. Yes, you read correctly seven, that's three strings more than your regular straight up bass. Already very impressive and they hadn't played a note.
Veil of Maya tore up the stage and obliterated the crowd with their groovy, technical and insane riffs. Song after song came finger tapping bass, sweeping guitar and time signatures that would blow up your calculator. Progressive technical death metal at its finest. An amazingly good value show: five mind-blowing bands for a tenner, worth every penny.
Recommended listening (although not for the fainthearted!):
Structures – Hydroplaning
Volumes – Wormholes
Vildhjarta – Daggers
Betraying the Martyrs – Man Made Disaster
Veil of Maya – Mowgli
Live Review by Helen Tytherleigh