Live Review : After The Burial + From Sorrow To Serenity + Ghost Iris + Where Oceans Burn @ Satan’s Hollow, Manchester on 4th August 2019

It's my first time in Satan's Hollow for a gig, and I’ve got to say it's weird seeing bands on the dancefloor! It's certainly intimate though, and as I know tonight is pretty much a sell-out I'm expecting it to get even more intimate. I leave Johann down the front and set-up shop by the stained glass windows at the back of the room…about five people back from the front of the stage still. It's a great line-up secured by Tapestry Promotions and I wait for local lads Where Oceans Burn to start things off for us tonight.

Interestingly there doesn’t appear to be any bass guitar live, but they make generous and appropriate use of backing-tracks to supplement their two guitars. It’s the guitars that are the main focus of the songs too; they’re what give these guys their heavily Northlane influenced sound and style. One of the guitarists is completely Manchester's answer to Jon Deiley, the oft masked guitarist from Northlane, with similar physical movements and more importantly similarly crisp guitar-work. The clean vocals from the other guitarist are a little thin and suffer from being fairly dry; more liberal reverb or delay on them would definitely help. But the dirty vocals are brilliant, and showcase the Architects/Polaris influenced elements of the band’s sound through some great vocal fry work in particular.

Next we have Ghost Iris. These guys hail from the current tech-rock/metal hotbed of Copenhagen, and the crowd are immediately bouncing to their tech-groove-metalcore. Technically the guitar techniques on display are impressive and, in the same fashion to the opening act, they appear to perform with no live bass guitar. However, unlike When Oceans Burn, they don’t rely heavily on backing tracks and instead layer intricate guitar parts with complex drum patterns and intense vocals. They take the heavy and melodic extremes seen with Monuments, Cold Night for Alligators and Kadinja, and stretch those spectrums even further to reach Siamese melodies and Lamb of God brutality at each end. Jesper Vicencio wows with some superb clean vocals as well, which make good use of subtle effects to enhance his natural tone and phrasing. He’s exceptionally charismatic and theatrical to boot, whether he’s delivering his guttural growls or striking clean segments. Their songs deliver masses of syncopated loveliness, with extensive variety in guitar sounds and vocal styles, meaning they deliver a mix of brutal and songful better than many bands I've seen recently.

I’ve seen From Sorrow To Serenity a couple of times now, but never in such an intimate venue. As it turns out, this size and style of venue suits the tech-deathcore band perfectly with this being undoubtedly the best I’ve seen them perform. Gaz King throws violent, barbed vocal lines out into the now equally energetic crowd; his vocals are noticeably well pitched with clear melody despite ripping as harshly as any vocal fry I’ve heard. The band are impressively tight on the myriad of stop-start sections that punctuate their catchy and anthemic choruses. With performances like this and their recent Tech-Fest set, together with their still relatively new album, From Sorrow To Serenity are showing that they're now undoubtedly punching at the same level as Heart of a Coward and similar bands.

The venue is packed and the crowd heaving by the time After The Burial take to the stage, so I leave Johann down the front again and head back to my safe space. Of course, I soon find out that there is no safe space in a full Satan’s Hollow as three separate moshpits start-up (one right in front of me). This venue certainly allows for anyone who wants to be close to the action to get there, and the genuinely intimate nature of watching a band here is brilliant.

It’s a rare opportunity to see the Minneapolis band in person, and one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. Anthony Notarmaso’s vocals are brutal, but not in a rounded bludgeoning way instead they are delightfully sharp and jagged. In fact much of the sound from the guitars, bass and drums follows suit. It makes for a violent staccato style that allows a hardcore aspect to align with the other elements of their music. You might describe After The Burial as hardcore-tech-death-thrash, but that’s a mouthful and too many hyphens even for me! It does indicate how many sub-genres and varied aspects they put into their sound though. More importantly they pull it off well, with Meshuggah-esque djent segments moving into fist-pumping hardcore, interweaving guitars and then driving thrash. If you want an example of what they excel at, then just check out ‘Lost In The Static as it ably showcases their full range.

Of course the other aspect of this venue is that you can get up really close to the guitarists, bassist and drummer due to the in-the-round nature of the staging (which also allows for a circle-pit all the way round the stage at a couple of points during the set!). The additional access to the band up close is perfect tonight in order to see the rest of the band do their technical trickery clearly and closely – a highlight is watching Dan Carle chaotically start ‘Anti-pattern’ around the whole drum-kit. In fact, the entire gig has been a real treat and I can’t wait to see more of all of these bands (and the venue) as soon as possible.