I don’t know how many folk the Underworld’s darkened bowels can hold, but tonight even if you packed them all into the cloakroom, you’d still be only loosely playing sardines.
The place is deserted. I dread to think how many people made it in for the unknown openers, but by the time Becoming The Archetype sheepishly set up and meekly beckon the few solitary bystanders to move forward, things do not look good.
Regardless of the rather dire setting, the banality of the atmosphere is shattered the very minute that the Solid State signed Yankees strike up their first chords on English soil. A small gaggle of rabid fans suddenly appear from shadowy corners, and we have at least enough for a five-aside football tournament gathered at the stage, all chanting rather reservedly that they would like to hear some metal (please).
And it is metal they get, in the form of One Man Parade, an awesome slice of metallic brutality, which even gets the novelty straight edge kid skipping along, front of stage in of his kinds bemusing (and rather oxymoronic) hardcore dances. Somewhat encouraged, the Metalheads begin to sway with a little more intent, bearing in mind that this is so minute a gig, everyone could drop their keys, contacts and phones and the chances of them being stepped on would be worse than winning the lottery.
Elegy is played in its epic 10 minute glory, instrumentals and sparse vocals make for a neck destroying chugging riff fest complete with a smattering of solos that could teach the simplistic bully boy bands vermin who often dwell in this venue a thing or two about musical prowess fusing beautifully with aggressive attack. Closing with the incredibly affirmation No Fall Too Far, the Atlanta natives leave the near empty room perplexed as to why there aren’t more people here to witness heavy music at its most visceral and damaging.
Meanwhile, in an alternative universe which some call chaos-core, tonight’s headliners The Chariot are the musical equivalent of getting floored by a stray playground football when you were a kid, and then having the bully who blasted it at you jump up and down on your already winded chest while his mates run around you in circles, screaming with laughter as they watch you suffer in shock.
Taking to the stage to a amidst a deafening blast of what sounds like distorted congregational church music played backwards underwater, this suddenly switched to plucked banjo bluegrass, allowing all five members to do their best hoedown dances; a brief breather in light of the next half hour of aural annihilation which is about to take place.
In their brief set more energy, passion and sweat pours into the Underworld stage than I’ve seen any band come close to after their third encore. It seems The Chariot are playing to an audience other than the sparse one gathered here tonight, and their handstands, guitar acrobatics and sweat drenched moves serve only as an accompaniment to the worship of an altogether different sort; and I can’t help but feel that the opportunity to witness it was priceless.