On 2nd June 2004 at 19:06 Anonymous 2613 wrote...
the xenith sound rock!
Live at Royal Park Cellars on Thursday, 12th February 2004
The basement of the Royal Park pub is pretty empty as Nex take the stage, but it quickly fills up once the reverberations can be felt through the floor upstairs. The band look like 4 totally unconnected oddballs, all united through the common thread of dirty riffage. And that's something they do a lot of. After the first couple of songs, it's apparent that these guys obviously like System of a Down. Not only do they jump around like "nut bars" to quote Wayne's World (a film these guys have obviously seen a lot of too), but they make silly gurning faces during the set, and that's before you see the drummer, who is covered in body paint.
Musically, Nex wear their influences pretty thickly, and sound like the weird love child between Refused and Iron Maiden, but raised by SOAD. One thing that bothered me slightly was the in-between banter from the lead singer, who sounds strangely like a Blackpool bingo caller with his booming voice, and repeatedly trying to the get the crowd to "give it up" for the other bands on tonight's billing. I'd concentrate on your own set. If Brian Potter was holding a metal night at the Phoenix club, no doubt Nex would be the first on the stage. Not bad, a lot of potential is there.
After Nex, come Milf. From the press I've read about them, everyone says they sound like Muse (sorry Matt, I know I said I wouldn't mention the M word) but to be honest, they really don't. They're much heavier, faster and a lot more enjoyable. First song 'Don't Cut Me Out' is mighty impressive. This band do dynamics well - heavy choruses with that voice from lead singer Matt Higgins, matched with stop-start drumming and booming bass riffs for the verses. It's a cracking combination, and it works to their advantage. 'Lot Six' is probably my favourite track of theirs - with one of those ball breakingly blistering riffs and one of those brilliant chorus moments, it could easily destroy an amp with no trouble at all. This is getting better with every song, as they switch paces with the downbeat 'Same Again', with its slow start and its furious chorus. The fuzz box is definitely working overtime tonight, giving the band that balls-to-the-wall guitar histrionics of say, Smashing Pumpkins circa- 'Mellon Collie...' but not diminishing their melody and intensity, a quick comparison being '100 Broken Windows'-era Idlewild. 'Ms Farmer' (dedicated "to a film called Donnie Darko") is as disjointedly dark and brooding as the eponymous main character, and just as watchable. The heavy riffage of the solitary new track on show and the old single 'Blind' are making this show, like many of theirs, bloody excellent. One song later, and they finish. Right, top that.
With more in common with hardcore superstars like Brand New, Read Yellow (who they are supporting in London) or maybe even early At The Drive- In (although Cedric Bixler they ain't), here's hoping we can banish those comparisons with that other 3-piece rock band once and for all.
The Xenith Sound are wrapping things up tonight, and do so with some gadget-fuelled style. Coming on to an intro tape, reminiscent of The Cooper Temple Clause's live shows, they proceed to rock some angular guitar heavy tunes that do exactly that. They rock. There's a sampler somewhere (I do love bands who bring technology to the forefront) and obviously lots of effects pedals are on the floor. Sounding not unlike Tool's more condensed moments (i.e. not 9 minutes long), the band are very good at what they do - the guitar playing is excellent and the drumming is on top form, never missing a beat. They go 4/4 at one point, and sounds very Blondie (I didn't see that coming) but a lot harder than Debbie Harry and co. which is interesting to say the least.
The Xenith Sound sound like a band that get played on MTV2's '120 Minutes' show, and that's definitely a good thing. These guys can go far, and I'm hoping they do, because if it's one thing I like, it's those wailing feedback moments processed through an effects box. And there it is. Brilliant. You could easily class The Xenith Sound as arty digital rock nonsense, but there's so much more to them than that. They make intelligent, fresh and very listenable rock music, so it's a great end to a great night.
Top stuff, all 3 bands brought something totally different in the field of rock music tonight, and it all combined to give off an eclectic without being pretentious feel to the whole night. Milf were excellent, and that guy from The Music was even there watching them. Now you can't beat a celebrity endorsement like that.