Sunday was always going to be a good day! It was the end of term, my assignments were all handed in and although it was snowing, I spent the day shopping and drinking in Camden with friends. So I was excited when I entered London’s Brixton Academy for the Jägermeister tour, despite being on the balcony.
As my friends and I found places to sit, the lights dimmed for the first band of the night, Feed the Rhino. My place on the balcony meant I could see the audience as the band took their places and despite their euthanized entrance, the audience gave little reaction at all and to be honest, I don’t blame them. Feed the Rhino were generic and unoriginal, there are hundreds of other bands out there with a similar sound. For the majority of their performance I felt like I was being yelled at and the only good thing I could say about their set was that the sound quality was spot on, but that was more the venue than anything else. I’m not sure what these guys were doing supporting Ghost and Gojira, because they just didn’t fit the bill at all. Still they tried their hardest and I can’t fault them for that. And kudos to my friend, who continued to voice his support for the band despite the negative opinions of the rest of the audience.
Next up were The Defiled, a band I’d seen years previously supporting The 69 Eyes on tour. I wasn’t too impressed with them before but I tried not to think about that as they came on stage; after all six years had passed since I last saw them. Despite this, I was immediately put off by the bands on stage antics, in particular those of keyboardist The AvD who seemed more concerned with tossing and turning his instrument about the stage than he was with playing it. The strange spectacle of a ballet dancer getting murdered on stage during ‘Black Death’ seemed a little pointless too, and just an excuse to flaunt a few barely dressed women on the stage. I liked the band’s sound though and many of their songs had some catchy rifts and good beats. I just wasn’t fond of the vocals, which seemed a little at odds with the music. However I can see where the appeal for this band comes from and they deserve their new record deal with Nuclear Blast, even if they weren’t really for me.
Up next were one of the two reasons I was at the gig, the mighty Gojira! The crowd was chanting for them before they even hit the stage (in an almost French accent no less!), something which continued throughout their entire performance. The band launched straight into ‘Explosia’ from latest offering L’Enfant Sauvage followed closely by classic track ‘Flying Whales’. The more observant in the crowd would have noticed that the band’s performance was being filmed and singer Joe Duplantier soon confirmed they were recording for a new DVD. Gojira didn’t use this as an excuse to give a showy, over-the-top performance though; they played for themselves, they played for their fans and they played all the better for it.
The band charged around stage with an energy that could be felt throughout the entire venue and put that same energy into their performance. It was heavy throughout, sometimes melodic and consistently tight as fuck. These guys know what they are doing and they do it well, as the constant pits from down below proved. Drummer Mario Duplantier proved to be both an exceptional drummer as well as an extraordinary guitarist and vocalist after he and brother Joe switched places mid-way through the set allowing Mario to prove he could growl with the best of them; if this guy wasn’t such a brilliant drummer, he’d undoubtedly be an amazing death metal vocalist. The band ripped through songs such as ‘Backbone’ and ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’, two highlights in a set that was pretty much flawless. Mario’s wild and often primitive drum solo during the encore proved even more so that he is an exceptional musician – he barely even looked at what he was doing, he just seemed to move as if on instinct – a solo that was a perfect lead in to penultimate song ‘The Axe’. Gojira finished on an ultimate high with ‘The Gift of Guilt’ an obvious crowd favourite which truly overwhelmed all those in the audience. A fantastic end to an impeccable performance!
Rounding of the night were Ghost, a band whose melancholy and sinister image is the whole reason I listened to them in the first place. While they weren’t quite what I was expecting, I was nonetheless blown away by their unique brand of metal. Ghost’s stage set up resembled a church, with a stained glass window backdrop and fake marble columns, which really set the atmosphere for their performance. The smoke that cascaded across the stage both before and during their performance only added to that. The band’s Nameless Ghouls took to the stage first but it wasn’t until Papa Emeritus II glided on stage that the crowd really erupted, before spending the band’s entire set captivated by his presence and melodic singing. Truly, his is a presence like no other and Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls are named so for a reason, for with Papa on stage, they are nothing but background figures, part of the stage around them. While there is no denying that each and every faceless member is a talented musician, Papa Emeritus is the show, he is Ghost and anybody who felt his eyes upon them was shaken to their very core.
The band effortlessly flew through their amazing set, performing a large majority of songs from their debut album Opus Eponymous as well as a select few from up and coming release Infestissumam. Their performance somehow managed to be even more flawless and powerful than Gojira’s and I honestly felt chills go down my spine at many points during their set, especially during ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ and ‘Secular Haze’. The band’s Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult inspired riffs and guitar solos were haunting and reminiscent, a throwback to the early days of metal and a reminder of why the genre is so great. Ghost are a band that you cannot really put into one metal subgenre; their songs were often symphonic and heavy, doomy and with obvious influence from bands like Judas Priest, giving them a unique sound like no other band out there. New tracks ‘Infestissumam’ and ‘Monstrance Clock’ proved without doubt that Infestissumam is a must buy album, an album that will go above and beyond Opus Eponymous. There was no topping ‘Ritual’ which just about everyone seemed to be singing along with, the contrast of the disturbing lyrics with Papa’s melodious voice being everything that Ghost is. Ghost were utterly mesmerising and I felt almost lost when they disappeared from the stage in a cloud of smoke at the end. They were above and beyond all I was expecting; the band of the night by far!
More from the bands:
Check out the band’s Official Site and Facebook page.
Check out the band’s Facebook page.
Feed the Rhino
Check out the band’s Facebook page.