Live Review : Krysthla + Red Method + Deified + Clashmute @ Star & Garter, Manchester on 17th May 2019

Spending an entire day interviewing people for a new role at my day job is not necessarily the best preparation for a four-band gig, but it's what I've managed to serve up for myself. It means I'm dashing to get to the venue in time for the opening band, which I can hear starting-up from the street outside. I immediately bump into Johann at the downstairs bar as I race through the front door, and get his take on what’s going on upstairs. Truth is we grab a pint at a leisurely pace as I can hear every single note from the bar. It’s going to be loud up there, I think to myself, and once we make our way up there I find out I'm not wrong.

We move upstairs to the gig itself and enter the fray. Surprisingly this is my first ever time in the Star & Garter, and I’m surprised at how intimate the venue is. It's testament to its heritage and Manchester's reputation for alternative music that this venue hosts some great up-and-coming bands on a frequent basis. I wouldn't fancy my pint lasting long at a packed-out gig, but tonight the crowd is disappointingly small…so great news for my beverage.

It's a real shame that there aren't more punters at this gig actually, as the line-up is an exciting collection of bands with increasingly notable reputations. First up are Clashmute, and of course they’re already in full flow by the time I get in. A relatively new band on the block, they are clearly influenced by nu-metal stalwarts Soulfly, naturally also spilling into Sepultura. To be honest, each riff heavily reminds me of “Roots, and their influences are clear for all to see. I cast my mind to the path that Blood Youth have taken over the past couple of years, and I think Clashmute could do worse than study their evolution before plotting their own unique path forward.

ROCKFLESH favourites Deified are up next and immediately the St Helen’s quintet have the crowd in the palm of their hands. If bands were twinned with foreign equivalents (you know, like towns and cities often are) then these boys would surely be matched with Lamb of God. They ferociously riff and pound their way through their groove-laden Metal. Jamie Hughes switches between sinister wide-eyed storytelling akin to Winston McCall of Parkway Drive, and manic barks reminiscent of Dez Fafara from DevilDriver. Knowing glances and chuckles give away their slight live rustiness, but it doesn’t detract from their performance tonight, nor the glee of the crowd as they set about enjoying every last second.

Red Method are the main support tonight, and seem to spend an age changing over the onstage setup. It’s fair to say they have a great deal of personalised equipment which includes instruments, props, outfits - even a stony-faced mask on the lead guitarist. In short, if you’re a fan of Slipknot or American Head Charge then you have to check these guys out – not because of the arguably similar gimmicks or brash stage presence, but because their music is reassuringly the best brutal parts of those aforementioned acts. Unfortunately, tonight’s sound doesn’t do them justice as it’s all far too loud. It means the layered midi-controlled backing sequences and clean vocals are almost entirely lost, which is a shame because those are a large part of what gives these guys an edge over similar fare. With a busy summer of festival appearances ahead, I look forward to seeing this group on a much bigger stage with better sound very soon.

Headliners Krysthla could be mistaken for being a Scandinavian juggernaut, but more refreshingly they’re actually the UK’s answer to Meshuggah. Equal parts extreme, prog, tech and groove, these guys lay down a blistering and visceral format of metal that could melt your face. Come to think of it, with the volume of tonight’s gig in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a re-enactment of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where they open the Ark itself – they’re that face-meltingly fierce. Neil Hudson and Noel Davis offer technical yet destructively heavy guitar-work, perfectly complementing the impressive variety of driving segments, beatdowns and syncopated riffage. The tiny but well-formed crowd go crazy on command to the excellent yet bludgeoning demonstration of brutal metal from Krysthla. Tonight’s been a treat, and I’m glad I’ll get to see most of these bands multiple more times this summer.


Words by Matt Fraser
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki