The Arusha Accord

support Terakai + Drowned By Oceans
author AP date 19/03/10 venue Hamptons, Southampton, UK

My first gig at the Hamptons bar in Southampton, the smallest venue in town with room for no more than 50 people and a pathetic excuse of a stage with room for a four-piece at the very most. The venue is literally a small room with a bar on one side (serving excellent Long Island Iced Teas two-for-five, mind you) and some tables and pillars scattered where the crowd area should be. The first impression I get is that this venue is suitable for singer songwriters and calm indie bands; not for explosive metal acts who like ripping shit apart. Much to my surprise however, the bands make good use of the establishment, forget about performing strictly on stage and give us our money's worth (if indeed we had paid...). I must apologise for the band that played immediately after Drowned By Oceans while I was conducting an interview with The Arusha Accord: I have not been able to find out what this band was called, but if anyone knows, feel free to drop a MySpace link in the comments.

Drowned By Oceans

Drowned By Oceans sounds dumbed down next to the bands they are opening for tonight, which is a shame because despite all its lackings, the music is not that terrible. In fact it's exactly what the band claims it to be: an infusion of two-step hardcore and metal. Knowing this beforehand, I am not expecting a whole lot of melody or catchy choruses and as such I find myself enjoying the band's pummeling more than I usually would. Maybe it's the brief glimpses of ringing melody or the occasional clean section. Or maybe it's because the band's vocalist Charlie Hashemi knows how to put on a show. Spending most of his time on the floor (the stage at Hamptons almost cannot room a five-piece band), he does his best to incite a riot, but the crowd meets him with little more than head-bobbing and even a couple of yawns. His showmanship is top notch - it's just that once the non-existent crowd reaction gets to him, he becomes indifferent and settles for trotting around lazily for the rest of the show. His vocals are in order though, just as they sound on record, and his colleagues on the various instruments put on a decent, if unimpressive performance behind him on the stage, enough to warrant from me a fair grade of

6

Terakai

During the interview with The Arusha Accord, that band's members sang Terakai's praises and insisted we should not miss their set; not without reason, it would seem. Musically Terakai is unsurprising at first, but their standard fare technical metalcore is not as simple as it would seem on the surface. Having toured with bands like Sylosis and now The Arusha Accord has forged its mark on the band's music, which exists somewhere between the blistering thrash metal of the former and the 'shuggah guitar tone of the latter. Guitar solos, soaring melodies and decent, if slightly damp clean vocals steal the show from what initially threatens to turn into a beatdown feast and both NB and I agree that this band shows a lot of potential. Vocalist Joe Knipe's furious screaming is especially impressive, kind of high-pitched but with enough depth to justify the biting rage in the band's music (think Sam Carter from Architects for comparison). His clean vocals are less imposing, but even then the recordings on MySpace do not do him justice, as they take on a much more epic character in the live setting. Like Charlie, Joe spends most of the gig on the floor, clutching the pillars, sinking to his knees and delivering the most emotional parts in the band's songs with genuine passion. He comes across more confident than Charlie though, and this reflects in the crowd, which is now showing signs of interest for the first time and even moshing - perhaps in response to Joe's demand in the beginning of the set that Terakai would not start before the slackers huddled around the tables stand up and move. Tom from The Arusha Accord is temporarily standing in as the lead guitarist, as Matt Dodd recently passed away in his sleep at just eighteen years old - may he rest in peace - and he is understandably not familiar enough with Terakai's material yet to bounce about. Fortunately Tom Grepne on rhythm guitar is compensates with a demeanor that defies logic, playing complicated tapping parts while jumping around and making such multitasking look easy so that a wave of shame washes over a less accomplished guitarist like myself. In a sense The Arusha Accord could not have picked a better main support, because Terakai's slightly more accessible music forms a ladder into the time-bending instrumentation up next. Terakai is yet another example of British bands showing their American peers how it's done and mooning them in the process.

8

The Arusha Accord

Like Tool sped-up; this is how the band describes their music to me in the interview, and this is what I try to keep in mind when the band steps on stage. True enough, the bass tone is very similar as are some of the drum patterns, but to attribute a Tool influence to any of the guitar wizardry... seems foolish. Guitar in Tool's music is about effects; here it is about playing the wackiest riffs possible, to boggle our minds and to show off. And it works. What is most impressive about this band on stage is how well they handle their instruments and how they seem to completely avoid mistakes whilst still moving around and putting on an energetic performance. Somehow all six band members also fit on stage, although vocalist Paul Green entertains us with numerous makeshift stagedives off the right speaker tower and joins the moshpit whenever he can. Alex is more reserved, but the actual vocal interplay between the two is astonishing - not because the singing is anything out of the ordinary, but because the two manage to create extremely subtle harmonies with the slightest pitch differences when they are delivering clean vocals, and alternate and layer their screams so well in the more aggressive parts. Usually I am against bands with two vocalists, but in this case the teamwork is flawless and genuinely contributes to the band's music. The crowd has finally stepped into gear as well, and is giving back every ounce of energy the band is throwing at them, regrettably also spilling my sophisticated cocktail on the floor when one of them rams into me. So long... island iced tea. One thing that bothers me about the show is that this band would perhaps function better on a larger stage, because as it is now, all six members are rammed on stage with no room to put on one of those Dillinger-esque shows they so eagerly boast with in interviews. It's crazy, but not that crazy, which I suppose can be excused in light of the nature of the music. Regardless, when the band is finished they are drenched in sweat and visibly exhausted from running their fingers back and forth across the fretboards or, in Mark's case, from dealing with polyrhythms and switching time signature 160 times per song. Impressive, very impressive.

8

Setlist:

01. Dead to Me

02. The New Face of Revenge

03. Desolate

04. You Cried Wolf

05. Night of the Long Knives

06. The Echo Verses

07. The Resurgent

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