Skeletor : Salvage and friends, Oxford O2 Academy, 28th June 2014

Take any genre name with ‘core’ at the end of it and the chances are I like it.  A lot.  I make no apologies for this even though it seems there’s a sizable contingent of the metal fan crowd who are quite scornful of all things ending in core. Anyway the excellent Skeletor Promotions  were presenting their June band night and I was quite excited about it- this line was just made of core ending win and with 5 bands available for less than ten quid it promised to showcase the best (and sometimes the worst) of Oxfords local talent.

On the billing for the night were Retribution, K-Lacura, Dead Mesa, The One Hundred and headliners Salvage. If some of those names sound familiar its because Salvage supported Breed 77 in 2013 and were recently featured in Shock of the New and The Hundred were one of our Sonisphere Shock of The New picks. All in all the line up looked pretty damn promising. But how did it stack up?

 

Retribution. Photo Credit Suzi H
Retribution. Photo Credit Suzi H

First up were Retribution and Holy metal batman! Bring me your heavy thrash sound add vocals dirtier and heavier than the combined minds of the Terror Twins and you have Retribution. Any band where the guitarist and the singer spend the gig body slamming each other and *never miss a note* are a winner by me! This band were a brilliant start to the night- they were fast paced, they clearly enjoyed themselves and they mean business! I bounced around quite happily for the whole of their set. Sadly they were then outstripped by the next band on the billing, the mighty K-Lacura

 

K-Lacura. Photo credit Suzi H
K-Lacura. Photo credit Suzi H

K-Lacura EXPLODED onto the stage and ripped into a set full of metalcore at its heaviest and finest. Imagine if Iron Maiden were a rugby team. Take them to the gym and feed them anabolic steroids and hard core weightlifting for a year and then put a vocally beefed up Jesse Leach on vocals and you *might* come close to the brilliant and aggressive sounds these guys produce. I didn’t take any notes during their set- I was to busy headbanging and being awestruck by just how utterly awesome they were. They should, in my opinion have ranked higher up on the play order and were so good, that I will be keeping my eye out for more shows of theirs so I can see them again. It was also impossible to get a decent picture of them because they didn’t stay still- they were in motion continuously. Which is brilliant to see but is rubbish if you’re trying to take pictures.

 

Dead Mesa., Photo Credit Suzi H
Dead Mesa., Photo Credit Suzi H

And then there was the band that let the line up down. If you have more than two bands playing it’s an inevitability that one of them won’t be much cop. And Dead Mesa were so painful, I just tweeted all the way through their set. And honestly, please believe me I feel awful about it- I want to like all the bands I see, I want to only be able to say nice things about new bands- because I want them to succeed and anything which brings more music into my life is a good thing. But, oh god these guys.

Somehow they manage to make prog whiny. And annoying. And the vocalist was slightly sharp in every single track. Dead Mesa are a band who, from the lead singers carefully ripped up stiff little fingers shirt to the the emo lyrics layered over proggy riffs,  are just trying that little bit to hard. Any band where I’ve written the introduction to the article by the end of the first song in order to stave off the boredom are not off to a promising start. They eventually ended their set with two covers- one of Audioslaves Cochise and one of Tools The Pot. I was immensely irritated by the hatchet job they did on both these tracks, and I and my companions breathed a sigh of relief when they finally went away.

Now because taste is utterly subjective and  I do not in any way wish to be mean, especially not to a young band who are putting in a fair amount of time on the local gig circuit,  I will say in their defense that they had a large group of people on the barrier jumping up and down and screaming along very enthusiastically, so even though I thought they were dire they clearly do have a local fan-base. And who knows? Practice makes perfect and if these guys can polish up a bit, stop trying so hard to ‘be a band’ and stop doing hatchet jobs on other people’s songs they have some potential.

 

The One Hundred. Photo Credit Suzi H
The One Hundred. Photo Credit Suzi H

I was very excited about The One Hundred as they were my Sonisphere pick for Shock of the New in WWRS CCLXXXIV. There’s always a worry  that when you see a band live having only heard their recorded work, they won’t quite be up to scratch- there’s a difference between a band who are great in the studio and a band who can pull off live performances with a bit of flair.

The One Hundred didn’t disappoint. Despite playing to a crowd that is quite unforgiving of anything that’s not reasonably metal they played hard and I’m desperately hoping my interview schedule at Sonisphere means I’ll be able to catch their set. These guys are as they say ‘a new breed’- they aren’t hip hop, they’re not dance but they don’t have enough of a metal element to count as a strictly metal band. Either way they’re bloody brilliant and will be regular features  in my music listening. I’d recommend everyone who likes hardcore or metalcore gives them a listen- I listen to them thinking ‘I’m sure I *shouldn’t* like these guys’ but I love them. They are another band who are impossible to photograph because they don’t stay still!

 

**INTERUPTION KLAXON** Sorry, It’s Cat A, The EVIL TWIN here. I approve of these guys- its like linkin park got smacked with hatebreed and smothered in prodigy. Go and listen to them. And watch them at Sonisphere!!

 

Salvage. Photo Credit- Suzi H
Salvage. Photo Credit- Suzi H

Ahhh the reason I came out on a Saturday instead of staying home and having an early night. I have been a big fan of these guys since I saw them supporting Breed 77 last year and I recently featured their new single from their upcoming album in the Shock of The New. Sometimes though its easy to worry that you’ve built a band up too much in your mind and then you see them again and they disappoint.

Of course Salvage don’t disappoint! These guys are pure class and were more than deserving the nights headline slot. They played plenty of new material which promises that the album they are currently recording will be more than excellent. Their set flew by in a rush of frantically paced music with barely any let up. Luckily this time Keir (on drums) did not cut his knuckles up and bleed all over his kit, although Jonny did seem to be having a few vocal issues. Despite that the set didn’t suffer and from the first head-bang to the last I left that set with an aching neck and a comment for the band- Hurry up and finish the album already!!

 

All in all, Skeletor once again came up trumps with a brilliant line up. As always I’ll end this review by begging you all to check out nights like this on your local scene and go- for the cost of less than a tenner you can generally see  a couple of bands and discover new music as well as supporting your local scene. Go forth people and listen to the music.

0 thoughts on “Skeletor : Salvage and friends, Oxford O2 Academy, 28th June 2014”

  1. All in all a rather well rounded review, although I can’t help but disagree with your slating of Dead Mesa. In my opinion the band has come a long way and grown as a musicians and performers. Plus the fact that they got by far the most passionate response of the night speaks for itself. These guys are going to continue to capture the hearts and minds of Oxford metallers for ages to come, in my humble opinion

    1. Hi Jacob,

      Thanks for your comment- I did mention the positive response to Dead Mesa 😀
      I would like to see them again in a different line up to see if my opinion changes, but on Saturday they really didn’t float my boat!

      horses for course though- and everyone likes different stuff.

      Keep rocking

      Suzi H

      1. I’m with Jacob on this Suzi. You say whatever style “core” is your thing, so Dead Mesa are probably not going to be. By all means be critical but at least try to be constructive and maybe less personal, you clearly want young bands to be successful and support live music by doing these reviews, but writing the intro during the first song and tweeting through a set won’t add to your credibility ….and you won’t feel so awful!
        Dead Mesa sure as hell do rock – but differently. I agree they are a young band with work and polishing to do and they have a truckload of potential. Technically different, good musicians, proggy …ish with a decent singer who doesn’t just shout, scream or growl incoherently and is a long way from being a whiny emo. Avoiding the same old safe “core” bandwagon should perhaps be acknowledged and applauded. (And don’t get me wrong, I like a fair wedge of core myself!) John at Skeletor obviously thinks so!
        You are totally right about the audience, they liked it along with a bunch of the other musicians who played that night. But, it is as you said – horses for courses and all that : )

  2. I expect honesty from my reviewers. Suzi was honest. I expect them not to say a band are brilliant just because elements of the audience do, but because they think they are. If you read the review, there was constructive criticism – Dead Mesa need more practice and more experience (as well as a better frontman). Don’t get butthurt just because someone disagrees with you. That’s life.

    1. Oh dear, wrong end of stick grasped me thinks!……I can assure you my butt is intact and not hurting! Is someone else’s???!! I agreed with Jacob meaning I thought the gig review was very good although I also had a different opinion re DM and I expressed it, is that not why you invite a reply? My ‘honest’ opinion, that’s all. x

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