Which headliner band remembers their second ever gig vividly? Centiment do, it was only last week. It’s been a long time coming though, as their début Streets Of Rage was four years in the making before its release earlier this year (reviewed here). After their first ever gig in Exeter’s The Cavern, the guys arrived tired but in good spirits to The Borderline, where they were joined by two other like-minded bands who want to bother the boundaries of metal, and a PA soundtrack of gaming music, of course.
The evening got off to less than a flying start with Subversion‘s ambidjenty sound. Arriving 15 minutes late onstage due to their drummer being delayed, the band played a lackluster set to a near-empty floor. Technical issues abounded, the mixing levels were horribly off, but it wasn’t just that. Although instrumentally the guys were on point, neither of the two vocalists were on fine form, Karl Harrigan in particular clearly struggling to get the growls out of his system, and Kai Giritli’s singing didn’t fare much better. This had a visible effect on the band’s mental state as well, as they were a lot more subdued than their usual lively selves onstage. A few rounds of applause at the end, but it was clearly not their day.
Brutai had much better luck when they got on stage. Starting out with their recent single “Never Change” and its empowering chorus, their catchy brand of proggy metal went over much better. Sound issues struck again temporarily, reducing the kick drums to a dull thud, but that was soon rectified and the four lads got on with delivering a musically tight performance. The instrumental section of “Onyx” was one such winning moment, along with the unrealistically strong growls that Felix Lawrie possesses. Rounding out on “Flood”, there was the distinct impression that these guys have an incredibly promising career ahead of them, and if this is how potent they are at EP level, then just wait for the album.
Speaking of albums, it was time to hear Centiment‘s latest offering in the flesh. The madness started off with “S.O.S”, the thundering guitars resonating around the room in perfect harmony with the glitchy keyboard melodies. Every musician was completely tight and on-point, including Greg McPherson who was on three hours sleep and still played guitar perfectly. Any reservations his brother Dave may have had about playing frontman without his usual guitar were soon dismissed out of the window, as he bounced around the stage like a lunatic and cracked laugh-out-loud jokes (including one riffing on the similarity between him and Greg, both having alopecia). Miraculously, he also outdid himself on the vocal gauntlets he set on CD, throwing in haphazard high notes when not bellowing his lungs out in growls and shrieks. Rounding out the sound, the taped glitchy keyboard sounds slotted in perfectly around the metal, enhancing “Defenders Of Oasis” and “Three Laws Of Neurotics”.
Meanwhile, the crowd were as engaged with the music as the band were: apparently ‘releasing the boozehounds’ on “Bloodshot” was enough to start a riot in the moshpit, and this intensified as the night continued. The sweat was soon pouring off everyone, but the band still blasted through nine-tenths of Streets Of Rage, highlights including “The Kraken” with its ferocious intro of “Get up mate, it’s just a flesh wound!”, the empowering repeated line “If there’s one thing to believe in, it’s yourself” from “Zero Tolerance”, and the entire closer “Mother’s Failure”, where Mark Shurety’s drumming was flooring.
As the final few notes rang out, it was clear The Borderline had witnessed something special tonight. All the bands tonight came across as humble and dedicated to their craft, which added an intensity and honesty to their performances.