Live at Joseph's Well on Thursday, 10th May 2001
About 10 minutes before Catylyst were due on stage, I was asked by a certain gentleman if I'd review tonight's proceedings. I reluctantly accepted, as I've never really done this sort of thing before.
So after a pen and some paper were thrusted upon me, I went down the steps to see an empty stage.
First on the bill... Catylyst. Already they made an impact with lots of shiny cymbals, shiny shirts and trousers, and one gentleman within the band, I must say, lots of shiny hair. They started with a nice long sequencer intro, accompanied with fantastic guitars, and a catchy chorus. Start as you mean to go on was the message to the crowd, and at this point Chris beckoned more people in from the bar to see them. More people indeed came into see them, as most of the audience were in to see Spear of Destiny, the sound of Catylyst was probably very different to what they are used to.
They made a good impression, the whole set was melodic, heavy and very retro, mixing conventional drumming and samples, metal-guitars and poppy vocals. The second song for some reason reminded me of Metallica's Seek and Destroy. Very heavy, slamming drums, but still very organised. One thing I must say about these lads is that the structuring within the songs is very good. To keep in time the way they do, with the sequencing and programmed bass lines, sounded like a very experienced and confident band. It looks as if in some point there were mistakes made by one of the band members, but that is only because of the occasional shake of heads and looks at each other. But the end result was spot on; a very refreshing sound, nice mix of 'old skool' style metal riffs, with modern synth noise, super. Stand out tracks were 'Today' and 'Stampede'.
After a visit to the bar, next up were Sugarvalve. Their approach seems to be a bit more casual as they prepare than the band before them, in body language and in dress. Again before a single note came out of them, they looked confident and the stage presence was there. Unfortunately though, not much of a crowd were in for them when they started to play. When they did start, we were greeted with a melodic intro, with a nice bass line, which burst into a nice mesh of distortion. Although they are a completely different style to the band before them, they still know how to rock. Mixing nice picking melodies and catchy chord sequences, the sound was there.
Comparisons to Radiohead and Muse for melody and possibly early Foo Fighters for thrashing it out, Sugarvalve mix noise and melody nicely. On top of that the single vocals were again catchy, but not going over the top with the angst or contrasting melody. Stand out tracks for Sugarvalve this evening were 'Ashamed', 'Car Crash' and the last one 'I Beseech You'. Towards the end the crowd grew. Again they seemed to draw more people from the bar as they were also something a little different to what the band the majority came to see. I would be honest in saying I've never really been into Sugarvalve, but tonight they made a big impression.
Overall Sugarvalve area a nice melodic punk-pop-rock outfit, and probably deserve a little more respect than they're given. The only down side I would say about them, is that when there's not a crowd to play in front of, they don't seem to be into it. But tonight as the crowd grew, they became a lot more interested, and even produced a couple of jumps in the air. Again a spot on result.
Finally on came the band most people paid to see. The Well became a lot more packed, but tonight the average age of the audience was probably double than usual. Spear of Destiny are obviously legends, even though I've never heard of them as most people had T-shirts on from 1983. I won't say too much about them because they weren't really my sort of thing. Very good on the instruments and produced very catchy choruses by the sounds of it, as most people within the venue were dancing and singing along. Dancing probably isn't the best word to use, but hey like I say the average age was a little older.
Overall a good night: two really good local bands and a much larger band as the main act. Keep a lookout for Catylyst and Sugarvalve, as they are two very good but contrasting bands. As for Spear of Destiny, I would recommend them but only if you like classic 80's rock n roll.
I'll give this 7/10, but only because I didn't like the final band.