Fei Comodo

support Bury Tomorrow + Finely Tuned Assassins + Arcane
author NB date 05/03/09 venue Joiners, Southampton, UK

The Joiners in St Mary's, Southampton, described as legendary on their own website, is a pretty odd venue. Whilst similar in size to the famous Camden Barfly, it has more in common with a local pub crossed with a rehearsal room; not to mention being situated in something of a ghetto (the phrase cash machine was met with bemusement by the locals). Despite this, it does have something of a claim to fame, having hosted gigs for bands such as Oasis, Radiohead and Green Day, so I was unsure what to expect from this tour of little-known bands at this little venue. Frankly, it emerged to be one of the best all round gigs that I’ve been to for some time.

Arcane

This occasion brings back memories of my days at school where we would attend battle of the bands gigs at the local community centre to witness our peers take part in an ill-rehearsed popularity contest in front of a well-intentioned audience who were nevertheless less interested in the bands and more interested in attempting to engage in some underage drinking/fornication whilst the establishment weren't watching. Back in the present day, the Joiners is also filled with minors and ill-rehearsed is definitely the word to describe Arcane. Incidentally, minors is also a good word to describe Arcane, the drummer in particular being about half my height and probably half my age (which explains the demographic in attendance tonight).

The band's music is surprisingly technical mathcore and, to give credit where credit’s due: they are obviously talented. However, there is no point in inserting harmonised arpeggios into your songs when you can't play in time during your live show. People are going to hear your music at this gig which they happened to come to, not from your single, painstakingly recorded MySpace track, therefore this gig is where you have to sound your best. So, rather than being a harmony, the aforementioned section turned into a strange sequence of intervals played at double the tempo! Other evidence of the band's inexperience was to be found in the constant glances from the guitarists to the drummer for cues and the rapid exhaustion of the vocalist. There is definitely potential in all this, but in my experience a band which has formed at this age won't last very long before other things get in the way.

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Finely Tuned Assassins

Next up there's a real treat: a band that looks like they are actually enjoying the show as much as they claim to be. It's a striking contrast to the previous band: goofily grinning guitarists leaping in the air almost without relent, a vocalist who can actually keep up the barrage of high-pitched screams and no conference of indecisive gazes during every moment of silence. The music itself is far from groundbreaking, but then it's been a long time since I've heard a band make any progress in that grey region where metalcore and hardcore cross over. They rely heavily on the usual metalcore staple of a staccato riff followed by a continuous, sweeping one. They have also succumbed to the use of the annoying, whiny vocal line which routinely starts with a few words sung on one note and ends with the last syllable on a note no more than four semitones lower getting there by means of legato and rarely straying from this range of frequencies. This is then repeated mindlessly for each line of the song leaving the melody to be produced by the guitars. I can't really hold this against them though because we came to see some metalcore after all and this is it, expertly executed.

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Bury Tomorrow

Bury Tomorrow, I'm told, are Britain's next big thing - the next Bring Me the Horizon or Architects. They have appeared in support of such bands and judging by the content of the DJ set that vocalist Danni played at the after party, they seem to like that brand of chaotic deathcore. I'm happy to report that they sound nothing like that. The band appears on stage to the majestic Hans Zimmer/Klaus Badelt "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme, and it seems like an oddly suitable intro as their similarly grandiose music suddenly takes over. If Finely Tuned Assassins played metalcore expertly then Bury Tomorrow play expertly written metalcore equally expertly. Nothing about the song-writing showcased here strikes me as the usual "metal for metal's sake" fare where upstart bands copy their genre idol's style and then duplicate it ten times to form an album.

The driving force of the intro to "Her Bones in the Sand", with its powerful drum beats on every second and fourth beat, is an example of this. It's a classic metalcore device finely adjusted by the introduction of a suitably melodic riff that blends it in smoothly with the rest of the song. Later Fei Comodo will demonstrate some extra subtlety in their songs that makes the calmer, down-tempo sections of melody in Bury Tomorrow's set seem slightly jarring by comparison, but at this point, it doesn't matter: the songs are varied and catchy, and the audience appreciates it as pits and crowd surfing abound. Soon I'm pleased to see that the band members don't consider themselves exempt from this as the bassist enters the fray. With a balance of on-stage action and musical finesse, this set has checked all the boxes.

Fei Comodo

I was baffled and concerned to see that a sizable quantity of the already small audience had left the venue after Bury Tomorrow's last song. Was this an indication of the quality of the upcoming show? Surely not; Fei Comodo (from Essex, UK) has done the rounds, receiving praise in Rock Sound, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer (to name but a few), and popping up on local gig line-ups everywhere you look. Were they wrong about this band?

Forget Pirates of the Caribbean. The absurdly emotional "Nessun Dorma" performed by Pavarotti is officially the coolest way to enter the stage at a rock gig. As the last drum roll of that epic dies away, a wave of energetic, screamo madness is unleashed. Front-man Marc bounds oafishly into view, he doesn't look suave or cool but he does look refreshingly genuine. Turisas' Mathias Nygård is probably the only singer I have seen recently who brings more passion to their act than this. Marc also has unfathomable amounts of energy as he leaps from one side of the stage to the other hanging haphazardly from the lighting rig reminding me of shows from far more chaotic bands such as Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot.

The second song opens with a drum march. It's hard to categorise a band that includes elements from so many different styles as this. One moment you think this is just the same old, poppy, screamo chorus that you are used to hearing from every new band that crops up but then a discordant metal lick is thrown in. Halfway through the next song you start to think that is all there is, but no, some other random style enters the mix, on some occasions combined in a way that I genuinely haven't heard before. The answer to my earlier question is no. I am still just as baffled as I was trying to work out why it is that by the end of the gig AP and I were standing at the back of the crowd where we had previously been standing near the front. Fei Comodo certainly didn't deserve it.

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Photos courtesy of Martin Foot

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