Live Review : SikTh + Loathe + Lotus Eater + Vulture Cult + Our Divinity @ Hangar 34 in Liverpool on September 15th 2018

As the second part of a trilogy of live rock viewings this weekend, tonight I am heading to Hangar 34 in Liverpool for the djent founding father SikTh gig. Situated in the middle of the rejuvenated Baltic Triangle, the venue lends itself well to the dance scene happening most weekends. Now that our familiar rock venue, the Krazyhouse has closed its doors and is unlikely to be developed into a new rock club, Hangar 34 have recently taken up the mantle by picking up the occasional metal gigs here in scouse land. From the Rockflesh HQ based in South Liverpool, getting to the gig is only a brief 10 minutes drive. Over confident on my time management and wrongly presuming that Loathe were the only support act to SikTh on this UK tour, the first band is well into their set. How far in it, who could say? Not me as I am having trouble identifying them. I decide to query the receptionist who announces a total of 5 bands for the evening.

The sets will be very brief or the evening will be very long.

 Our Divinity began in 2015 as a Pop Punk act under the name, Lost in
Translation. However in July last year the Liverpool band announced they would restart under a different line-up and officially changed their name to Our Divinity and released the heavy single ‘You Take It All’. Only after recruiting Danny Boland, a metal influenced lead guitarist and Zara Saunders, a Lizzy Hale influenced rock vocalist, Our Divinity took on a driving modern metal sound.

On the night, Our Divinity is falling victim to the typical lethargy of the early and dispersed punters. At times, Zara feels slightly tense especially during the songs introduction when the venue’s PA isn’t embellishing the tiny framed singers lower tones. I appreciate it may be harder to control sound when it bounces of the walls of the empty room but this isn’t a new problem.

Once the band enter a chorus, the recently recruited vocalist, swiftly demonstrates her full vocal range, hitting high notes with ease, shift shaping from mouse to tiger, particularly on songs like ‘Yourself As Someone Else’ or their latest single ‘Intoxication’. With few more gigs under their belt, their stage presence should develop. Our Divinity is still in its infancy and yet shows great potential to be unique in the future. 

After a brief interval, next up is another of Liverpool’s latest musical talent, Vulture Cult. With practically non-existent material ever released, except for one single ‘Steamrolling’, the band has somehow already managed to make a huge impact on the live scene in the northwest.

Andy Hinton, vocalist and rhythm guitarist these days sports a mop of curly red hair making him instantly noticeable when the band hits the stage. From the first note, Vulture Cult is determined to up the ante with an energetic set of grungy alternative rock, occasionally reminiscent of a crossbreed of Tool and Foo, throwing themselves into every beat, captivating the audience.

‘Steamrolling’ live with its riffed chugginess is a big hit in no time, then things slow down with the dreamy ‘Reborn’ before the boys end on a high note with the memorable riff, mellow verses, a sweet little guitar solo courtesy of Mike Jones and the extended outro of ‘Walls’.

Then the evening suddenly takes a turn into something that nightmares are made of. With the next act, the Glaswegian quintet Lotus Eater, with what started off as a rather pleasant melodic evening full of promises veers off the road into a ditch of chaos and insanity. I hope the crowd weren’t expecting the 80’s pop band ‘The Lotus Eaters” otherwise they’re in for a shock!

With the release of the new single ‘Break It’, the gloom metal Lotus Eater became the first heavy British act to sign to Hopeless Records in the label’s 25 year history.

Dressed in sports gear, the lads have the outdated look of chavs who have escaped from the local council estate and whom your mother warned you to stay away from. The chaotic crash of Cameron Humphreys drums with the dropped tuning of Craig Mccullock bass is as tribal as it can get.

As they go through their set, I remember fondly of how Sepultura in the early 90’s was rather relatively musical back then. The constant green lights flooding the band make it very difficult to gather decent shots, somehow I get the impression that the band has a fascination with something green and organic other than lotus.

After 5 minutes, the guttural grunts and screams of vocalist Jamie Mclees are unbearable to my ears as there is no apparent clear message except for the possible fact that Lotus Eater may be pissed off.

As I make my way back through the crowd having completed my 3 song limit pit slot, I realise that the band isn’t the only one to vent their frustration this evening, a swarm of lanky teenagers have somehow telepathically agreed to push each other seemlngly until the cows come home, either that or they want to have accumulated enough bruises between them as a proof of an excellent outing.

As Lotus Eater set finishes, I feel somehow extremely tired but relieved that I survived unscathed.

After a brief auditory respite, but before I have a chance to catch my breath, Loathe, the 5 piece formed in Liverpool is on. It becomes quickly apparent within the first few songs ‘It’s Yours’ and ‘Dance On My Skin’ no ballads in sight and the evening is about to get even more brutal and aggressive than the previous act.

From under his hoodie, lead vocalist Kadeem France on his home turf constantly pulls the crowd in from both the left and right sides of the stage. Loathe offers on the night some of the best hardcore the U.K. has produced in years. With elements of proginess and djent, the whole genre is lifted and the beautiful melodic lines of guitarist / second vocalist Erik Bickerstaffe are just pure gem.

Loathe played at Slam Dunk and Download Festival UK this summer and it is no surprise that they have been nominated for a Metal Hammer Golden God award (Best New Band) and an HMA award (Best UK Breakthrough Band)

‘White Hot’ from the split EP with Holding Absence ‘This Is As One’ resonates with me, but when Kadeem jumps in the crowd during the performance of ‘Rest; In Violence’ it remains the highlight of their set. His charisma is boundless and the act are definitely one to watch for the future.

The experimental metal five-piece will be playing as guests to Of Mice & Men on their two upcoming UK November show dates.

After an exhausting evening going through 4 bands, finally the headliners SikTh are on and I am not sure I can take it. You see, at the tender age of 46, turning 47 next week, watching kids beating the shit out of each other for a good hour can be tiresome.

A led screen as wide as the stage clearly spells out the name of the band on a white background, just in case we are in doubt about whom is on next. You may think for a second that some kind of animations may be presented to us during the set, but there isn’t, the SikTh logo will remain static.

I first saw, heard, discovered, in no particular order, SikTh back in July 2016. One night at the Live Rooms in Chester I was impressed with how they were insanely technical, hauntingly melodic, yet brutally heavy. Their newer material from ‘The Future in Whose Eyes?’ released last year mixes well with the older one. The band has picked up pretty much where they have left off and show no change of direction from the djent genre they have created.

Nowadays they may not have the stamina or anger of their younger support acts but hardcore is a whole different genre from Djent and SIkTh so fequently sited as an influence by so many bands so has nothing to prove today.

Joe Rosser who joined SikTh back in 2016 is now completely at ease as the second vocalist perfectly entertwining vocals with possessed Mikee Goodman on ‘Philistine Philsophie’ or ‘Pussyfoot’ . Second guitarist Graham Pin Pinney is absent on this tour , but Guitarist virtuoso Dan Weller fills the void, doubling down on stage presence and notes on the fantastically prog ‘The Aura’ or ‘ Part Of The Friction.

As the evening draws to a close and after numerous new bands on display, SikTh remained the stars. Why such a talented band with extraordinary musical technical abilities and new quality material recognised by their peers isn’t up there with all the greats is beyond

Words and Photography by Johann Wierzbicki