Gig Report: Karybdis – From the Depths Album Launch
In a sudden bout of spontaneity, I found myself on a train heading down to London, bound for a concert in a new venue and a rather motley lineup of punk and metal. The Purple Turtle in Camden is a cozy little venue with a bar alongside the stage and boasting a very competent sound system/team. I pitched up just as the first act, the amusingly titled The Cockrockets, were doing a soundcheck.
My brief research told me that The Cockrockets’ tagline was “passion over talent”, although their modesty between tracks onstage masked a fierce determination in their Gallows-meets-Dead Kennedys style of punk that they played. Vocalist Stefanovic embodied this, as he bellowed through their set, but chatted in the breaks as normally as over a pint in the local. The band also instigated the first ever band-only moshpit (sans drummer, of course), as the three members bounced around the room. At one point, the guitarist disappeared, and returned with DC stickers in his long hair, which then entangled even further as the whole band engaged in a headbang (“so as not to feel out of place at a metal gig”)*. In the true spirit of being “professional” but punk (their words!), the setlist was abandoned partway through, but I definitely caught wind of a bluesy solo in one song, and the minute blast of “Civilized”. Certainly one of the most memorable punk sets I’ve seen, they set up a great level of energy for the remaining bands. Check them out on Facebook!
Next up onstage were A Farewell To Tyrants, probably the youngest band of the evening, playing what I heard someone describe as “grungecore”. Fairly accurate a description, if bizarre on paper. The main vocalist sounded remarkably akin to Seattle’s scene, backed up by the drummer’s hardcore screams and some cool solos along the way. They trod the line between grunge rock and metalcore well, with a developed sound and competent musicianship belying their ages, although not quite reaching the same level in stage presence. The lyrics didn’t make sense, as single “Loki And His Desert Eagle” proves, but at least the sentiment is one I support: “If you’re not invited to the party, start your own”. Worth checking out, with a free EP for stream here, and the band are on Facebook.
Warning: this next band were mad. Oaf was their name, a duo consisting of UK Metal Hammer scribe Dom Lawson on bass and vocals, and James Rayment on drums and backing vocals. The latter was dressed akin to a 50s jazz drummer, tie clip and all. What followed was a set of part-comedy, part-dirty grooving punk, with Dom going through a range of high shrieks and low shouts, and James losing his jacket. They got one of their classics out of the way, introduced as ‘a horrible thing with a nice title’: “Wanking With A Fist Full Of Shit”, displaying Dom’s bass-as-guitar skills. After a bout of Bollywood-style head bobbing, the next song’s history was introduced, a ‘desire to write an existential song about the Stalinist regime’s oppression of composers’ creativity. But then I went “fuck it”, and wrote a song about a giant seagull’. And so “Fuck Off Seagull” was born. The audience seemed to really enjoy the off-kilter comedic genius and no-holds-barred jazzy groovy punk that Oaf brought, and I for one am looking forward to their sophomore due out later this year. Oaf are on SoundCloud and Twitter/MySpace.
As an antithesis to what followed before, Beneath The Tide play breakdown-crammed deathcore, and were the only band who didn’t really impress me that evening. The vocalist had the required hardcore bravado and range of barks, growls and screams, with some muffled singing on a couple of tracks, but most of the setlist blended together, aside from “Simon Says Die”, an amusing track about the movie Demolition Man. One memorable moment near the end, the bassist saw fit to lay down his instrument and jump to the floor to unleash a series of flying hardcore kicks, nearly hitting the crowd (a feat he repeated during the headliner’s set). All in all, the crowd at the front seemed into it, but it wasn’t to my personal taste.
On the other hand, when Karybdis came on, my ears pricked up immediately. I’d caught a few songs of their début album streaming on Bandcamp, but live was a different experience entirely. The band’s Hydra-hybrid of melodeath, groove metal and metalcore was well-formed and stocked full of riffs, with minimal well-executed breakdowns. The recently-joined vocalist, topped by a lumberjack’s hat, bounced around like a pogo stick while showcasing his literally full range of harsh vocals. The drummer’s tight performance also impressed me, although the accolades could be accorded to all the members, including the amusingly-named “Indian He-Man” on rhythm guitar. There were also a couple of funk-and-blues-based moments which bore witness to some comical dancing styles emerging. I was surprised near the end, when they pulled up a crowd member (Andy Hutton), who provided supporting vocals while the band tore into the 7-minute “Deathtoll”. Closing with opener of From The Depths “Minotaur”, the band seemed surprised to hear the cry of “encore!”. And so, the audience was treated to a new track, as yet unnamed, but sounded as impressive as the established material preceding it.
For a series of relatively unknown bands, the night brought a fun few hours of new music, topped off with a new discovery of an excellent new band to explore. The London scene is diverse and thriving, as can be expected given its size, and The Purple Turtle is a great venue for these bands to convene and showcase their individual sounds. I encourage you all to check the place out if ever in London and at a loose end one evening, you may discover some new music as I did.
Thanks are due to Hold Tight PR for providing the opportunity to see this gig, and to all the bands performing for giving me that feelgood tinnitus ring in the aftermath.
*Stefanovic failed to mention he drums in ex-Cradle Of Filth’s Sarah Jezebel Deva’s band, and thrash group This Addiction, so metal is nothing new to them.