Devil Sold His Soul

support Echoes + Snub + Feed The Rhino
author BL date 19/02/11 venue Talking Heads, Southampton, UK

Echoes

Echoes were the young local act tonight, and you felt the relevance in their sound for their inclusion in the lineup probably more than the other supporting bands. They have a melodic, and pseudo-progressive hardcore sound that is not too dissimilar to Devil Sold His Soul, though they are definitely trying to include more popular influences like breakdowns. The performance was, at best, just decent enough when all the other opening local acts I've seen in Southampton came to mind. There were some hints of on stage persona, decent movement and chemistry between the band members and the odd fan in the pit, but they still found it difficult to really captivate many standing at the back. Their sound could also be a little bit more sharp in terms of execution, not to mention I am still yet to be convinced by their harsh vocalist who shrieks a little bit too uncomfortably for me. And while their other vocalist was in tune with the cleans, he really lacks that engaging singing voice to really make the contrast between the melodic and the more dissonant sections effective at least live. Overall though Echoes were entertaining enough for the first band to get on stage, and I'm sure with some work these guys can really become something potent in the future.

Snub

When Snub started playing, I wondered about the thought process in the promoter's mind when it came to choosing Snub to be the second support. I mean while Snub seemed like a fairly competent band, they seemed so out of place when I think of who they are supporting. Their sound was a kind of blurred, grungy metal maybe with some hardcore (but not quite metalcore though), and I can't think many in the crowd were too impressed with what they heard - the style just seemed a little bit past the times if I'm honest not to mention their rather stiff and static stage display. It didn't help that the one of the guitarist broke a string after the first song and took a big portion of their set time to restring. During that time, we had some 'attempts' at charming the crowd with a series of bad jokes, talk about how you're not a real man if you don't drink cider (which apparently can also exclude you as a friend to the vocalist), and the other guitarist playing some random shredding noise as a 'solo' (not sure if it was meant to be a satirical take on guitarists doing this at other shows, but it sounded bad). By the time the band actually resumed playing, I had simply lost all remaining interest (not that they managed to incite much if any in the first place), and just wanted the next band to get on and start.

Feed The Rhino

I had never even heard of Feed The Rhino (and by the looks of the show of hands when the band asked who knew them, nor did anyone else here tonight) but boy have I been missing out on something a bit special. Their brazen and brash sound that sounds like some sort of a combination of Every Time I Die, Norma Jean and Alexisonfire instantly picked up the mood and spirits of every man and woman, boy and girl in the room and got feets moving and hands clapping. Their music and their performance just reeked of infectious style, cheeky assertiveness (but not overly arrogant), and explosive vibrance that seemed so colourful when I think back to Snub's time on stage. It was obviously clear I wasn't the only one impressed as the audience roared with approval every time the band finished another song from their 2010 album "Mr Red Eye". Understandably since virtually no one was familiar with Feed The Rhino here, the actual crowd participartion was more or less all improvised without being a complete fervor. But the next time they show up, what a reception they should get if people remember them for this performance, and what a show that will be...just think. Great stuff.

Devil Sold His Soul

I have got to say that after such an invigorating and energetic performance from Feed The Rhino, headliners Devil Sold His Soul certainly had a bit more pressure on them to really perform. Their support set with Architects in Bristol was not yet a lingering, distant memory and still felt fresh on my mind - they were excellent then but this was their show, I was keen to see what they'd make of it. The crowd seemed a bit muted throughout which I personally found a little disquieting, but I think people chose to show their appreciation with keen intent on taking in just the majestic music machine that Devil Sold His Soul were instead, opening with strong hits from their latest album "Blessed & Cursed" in "Tides", "Drowing, Sinking" and "An Ocean of Lights". Their live sound was as usual, thick and clear with soaring melodic highs which then turned into crushingly dark and brooding lows all neatly wrapped up with a brilliantly immersive atmosphere, taking you by the hand and never letting you go. For moments throughout the room was transformed into the barren landscape that the band carved out and you actually felt the music was literally alive.

"Sirens Chant" and "As The Storm Unfolds" were two of the older songs from "A Fragile Hope" visited during the set, and while they're both great tracks in their own respective rights, you can hear how much the band's style has improved with the newer songs I feel. "Like It's Your Last", an even older song from their first EP "Darkness Prevails", does a great job of letting the bands' more long time fans appreciate a nostalgic gem which actually still sounds great and fresh, even for someone like me who only really got into the band after their latest album. "Crane Lake" and "The Disappointment" returns things back to the new album while "Callous Heart" expectedly drew a much more vocal reception being the main single from said album. The set ended with the utterly excellent "Truth Has Come", and while I was disappointed no encore was played, I was just in awe of the sensory experience I was just subjected to - enjoyable, captivating, and engrossing all rolled into one. Shame it had to end really.

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