support Devil Sold His Soul + Deaf Havana
author BL date 19/04/11 venue Koko, London, UK

Koko reminds me of a little bit of a theatre with its stylised pillars at the edges of the stage and the architectural design of the balcony overlooking the mainstage, and tonight the the production could not be more exciting with two British bands who have been in the recent lime light and a powerhouse American band that has helped define an entire generation of underground music that has slowly moved to more mainstream territory. UnderOATH were bound to be the stars tonight but Devil Sold His Soul and Deaf Havana shouldn't be overlooked, with Devil Sold His Soul finally hitting the bigger stages more consistently now and Deaf Havana trying to remain strong with their fanbase despite a pretty significant member lineup change (something that may apply somewhat to UnderOATH as well).

Devil Sold His Soul

This would be the third time in recent memory that I would catch Devil Sold His Soul, and while I suppose the show with Architects and Norma Jean last year was at a pretty big venue, Koko would be the largest stage these guys have performed at least in my eyes (they played Koko in that Architects tour too but I caught them at Bristol). And for the most part, the sound could have been a little better (knowing the acoustics here were not the best last time I was here), the bass seemed to have enveloped all other instruments and even the vocals to some extent. Nonetheless Devil Sold His Soul were enchantingly decent, though perhaps did not leave the same strong impression that had wowed me on the last two occasions. Despite that these guys have come such a long way in the last year or so, and it was great to see it starting to finally come to fruition with such big name shows like UnderOATH finally under their belt. "Tides" and "Drowning/Sinking" were pretty much expected to get things underway, and I can never tire of that latter track in particular with its stellar melodies, powerful heavy/soft transitions and uplifting choruses. Also present in the rather teasingly short set which had included "Callous Heart" was also "Frozen", the first time for me hearing it live, such a brilliant track for such a grand setting as Koko - its quiet soothing introduction paving the way for an epic later segment. Devil Sold His Soul seemed gracious in taking the warm reception they were getting, and made for a great opener to the night ahead.

Deaf Havana

I was told numerous times just how good Deaf Havana had apparently become by our resident writer AP with the departure of screamer Ryan Mellor back in 2010. While his enthusiasm for their new clean sound had somewhat held my suspicions at bay, I still reserved full judgement until I would see them live myself especially considering I had not seen them before the lineup shake up anyway. Well Deaf Havana introduced their new 'sound' in full glory by playing what seemed like four to five new songs out of seven, one of which everybody already heard in "Smiles All Round". The reception to the new songs was ... lukewarm to be frank, where not many seemed to know the tracks nor really feeling the drastically reduced sense of energy and raw aggression compared to the songs off the last album. Its a shame that Deaf Havana didn't make the transition to the new material a bit smoother, I just get the feeling that by debuting so many new songs one after another, you risk alienating some of the fans out there who came expecting to hear their favourite hits. Not to say the new songs were that bad per se, but they weren't as special as you'd think they could be, the odd one in there had a catchy chorus and its pretty clear that now front man James Amadeus Veck-Gilodi is one stellar vocalist as his singing is perfect. And its not like the fans have fallen out of love with these guys either since when finally "Friends Like These" and "Nicotine And Alcohol Saved My Life" came on, the crowd exploded into action and sang along word for word along (I admit I missed the screams even if the all clean renditions were still damn superb). I hesitate a little when thinking about the future Deaf Havana are making themselves based on such extremes in response from the audience tonight, but hopefully everything will work out for the better and I hope the new songs will impress at least when I hear them recorded on their upcoming new album.



UnderOATH came on in front of an eerie video shown on a screen that seemed fitting to provide the backdrop for what would be a devastingly beautiful set from one of my personal long time favourite bands. I had seen UnderOATH perform at this exact venue more or less a year prior, and since then the departure of long serving drummer and clean singer Aaron Gillespie might have initially given cause for concern over irreversible consequences for the band, being the last original member and the crux of the lighter side of their progressive post-hardcore/metalcore music with his almost angelic soft singing. However frontman Spencer Chamberlain had taken a bigger more pivotal role in doing a lot of the clean singing himself, helped out by guitarist Timothy McTague who did an acceptable job filling in with some cleans of his own when he could. The band kicked the night off with the trio of opening songs from "Define The Great Line", "Lost In The Sound Of Separation" and new kid on the block "Ø (Disambiguation)" ("In Regards To Myself", "Breathing In A New Mentality", and "In Division"). The consecutive order of the songs (in the order their respective albums were released) gave an increasingly strong gravitating feeling of foreboding darkness and a macabre atmosphere that grew thick, again wonderfully aided by that creepy video in the back and the acoustics somehow becoming clear as day all of a sudden. Spencer did his usual stage moves which consisted of organic and flowing movements of a man possessed and his screams pierced the air all the way to the back of the venue with ferocious intent, while his cleans surprisingly confident in places he never used to sing before. Tim went ballistic as his usual crazed self and then by this point suddenly I was aware that Christopher Dudley, their keyboardist, wasn't actually present (apparently he left the tour to tend to his recent newborn child), though his parts were perfectly audible and not a beat was missed in terms of the samples and electronics.

"It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door" was a song everybody expected to hear from UnderOATH, and when it came on, it not only lifted the barren, electrifying tenseness in the air to give everyone a change of setting, it also caused a huge uproar in volume from the crowd. The lights sparkled in the room, and you couldn't even hear the band trying to sing the words since the crowd had long surpassed their ability to be heard. "The Created Void" similarly got people feeling all jittery with its serene clean portions before the band took the capacity Koko crowd a trip through the new album "Ø (Disambiguation)" with three back-to-back new songs from that album, catchy number "Catching Myself Catch Myself", the haunting upcoming single "Paper Lung", and finally the crushing "A Divine Eradication" all getting good amounts of the people swinging arms and launching into one another. In a unexpected turn of events we were treated with a couple of songs the band had not played for years according to themselves in "Moving For The Sake Of Motion" and the gorgeous piece "To Whom It May Concern", and while no doubt preplanned - seemed like a complement to them calling this night the best of the tour so far. The second of which was performed with Spencer singing every word seemingly aching with genuine passion in his delivery. Heading into the final moments of the night we had one of their oldest performed songs contrasted with one of the newest in "A Boy Brushed Red Living In Black And White" and "Who Will Guard The Guardians" - the latter another excellent pick from the new album while the former a long time anthem to get people singing loudly again. There was certainly no disappointment for UnderOATH on the crowd's part with the volume threatening to deafen by this point. Unsurprisingly no one left the place after that, everyone rooted to the spot waiting for the strong encore and the send off we'd get in "Illuminator" and "Writing On The Walls" (probably my favourite song from "Define..."). The end was just magnificent in more ways than one as the band closed a really memorable evening. Everything about UnderOATH tonight just reeked of a band elevated to a class above so many others in their own made genre that comparisons are futile by this point. All you need to really know is that right here even without Aaron, UnderOATH were damn close to incredible, again.



  • 01. In Regards To Myself
  • 02. Breathing In A New Mentality
  • 03. In Division
  • 04. It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door
  • 05. The Created Void
  • 06. Catching Myself Catch Myself
  • 07. Paper Lung
  • 08. A Divine Eradication
  • 09. Moving For The Sake Of Motion
  • 10. To Whom It May Concern
  • 11. A Boy Brushed Red Living In Black And White
  • 12. Who Will Guard The Guardians


  • 13. Illuminator
  • 14. Writing On The Walls

Photos courtesy of FT.

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