After a delayed start of forty minutes, Stoke-On-Trent’s Easy Target (****) took to the stage and unleashed twenty five minutes’ worth of rifftastic punk rock. Though nearly all of the small crowd appear to be here for the heavier bands the night offers (an observation which can be inferred by the amount of hardcore and metalcore shirts on display), the band storm through their set to the applause of everybody in the room, and the crowd quickly swells up. Vocalist Steve McKinlay is similar to Black Flag’s ex-frontman Henry Rollins in his stage presence in that he is everywhere, and he delivers his lyrics whilst beaming at the crowd. The riffs provided by Josh Star and Jim Ball wouldn’t sound out of place on Led Zeppelin IV or even Gallows’ latest record. The drumming is incredibly tight too, meaning that the band’s performance is enjoyed by all. Easy Target are definitely one to check out and keep an eye on.
Whilst Dead Inside (****) don’t play a note-perfect set, the anger vocalist Dave Turner brings to the stage is unmatched. His lows are almost guttural and they work perfectly against the hardcore the rest of the band brings. The band courses through their set, featuring plenty of 2-step rhythms and beatdown sections played in incredibly low tunings, much to the adoration of the crowd who start moving as soon as the band begins. Featuring an array of material from their EP “Time’s Up” as well as some covers for good measure, Dead Inside are one of the most active bands in Nottingham’s hardcore scene and when they depart, the stage is absolutely covered in sweat.
Drowning Grace (****) have one of the most intense and visceral live shows that this reviewer has had the pleasure of witnessing. Though the set seems a little sloppy at times, the band’s combination of metalcore, deathcore and hardcore seems to be pleasing the crowd as they get plenty of movement and even some sing-alongs. However, it is vocalist Benjamin Cotton who truly makes the band’s performance what it is. He is everywhere – kicking doors open, throwing mic stands, climbing on the monitors, climbing on the tables, kicking the empty bottles and glasses around, getting in people’s faces and even throwing kicks in the pit. Really, the only weak point of the set is his vocals, which are always an incredibly high-pitched scream (much like Suicide Silence’s Mitch Lucker on The Cleansing) which renders his lyrics incomprehensible. Whether or not that’s down to tonight being the sixth day of the band’s eight day tour, I don’t know.
Ashes of Maybelle (*****) can be summed up by the following sentence: The night before the Nottingham show, vocalist Lyle broke his hand PUNCHING A MONITOR. The band’s ultra-violent live shows have garnered them a fairly large following around Nottingham. Though the band’s music seems to take influence from hardcore, deathcore and mathcore (imagine if The Chariot, The Dillinger Escape Plan and early Suicide Silence had a baby), they are incredibly tight. Despite it being an incredibly long night and everyone is tired, people are going crazy as usual, to the point where monitors are being strewn across the tiny stage. The crowd has swelled to its largest of the night, a fight nearly breaks out and there’s a guy in a horse mask hardcore dancing, all to the band’s bludgeoning in audio form. Each song is received to high praise and it is clear that Ashes of Maybelle have absolutely stolen the show.