This story's a little late in getting published, but the online mag that I pitched it to didn't seem interested and since I didn't want to waste good writing, here it is! A little late, but, better late than sorry!
It's Sunday night in London, the air has bits of spring in it, warm enough to get away with just a t-shirt and a leather jacket. As I turn the corner onto Hoxton Square, the row of open deck bars, Sunday hangovers brightly chirping over pints of ale, I reach the end of the lazy murmur and am soon confronted with the site of long haired metal heads soaked in leather, studs and silver rings. Yup, I've arrived. On tonights bill are opening act Dark Matter, followed by Seven7, with main support A New Tomorrow and headlining four piece, Achilla.
It's not usual for me to spend my Sunday hangovers listening to live heavy music, but it's not long until I begin to enjoy the cosy surroundings of Hoxton Underbelly's underground music venue, as I take a sip of my creamy Guinness.
As the first act of the evening hits the stage and not knowing what to expect, I am pleasantly blown away by Dark Matter. Their sound's a calming mix between classic heavy metal riffs supported by bluesy undertones. The frontman plays chords of post blues American rock, supporting it with a vocal tone of sensual crooning whilst the hard guitars, groovy bass lines and none-obvious drum kicks, effortlessly fill the silence. Dark Matter write songs that are broken up with a mixture of heavy riffs and slow, elegant licks between the guitar and bass. If you like metal with melodies but that are not lacking in high-tension, I suggest you check out Dark Matter.
Next on were four piece Seven7 and this band is all about prog-metal-rock through and through. At first it takes me some time to get into them, mainly because of the different taste-buds that I have in music… However, gradually as the band bounces around on stage, I become seduced by their noise, especially the fast drumming and the tickling licks of super sonic guitar playing. Over all this is a band who plays tight and rocks out on stage. I enjoyed it as much as I was enjoying the cool grasp of my second pint.
A New Tomorrow it is. I almost found this band to be a little out of place sound wise, although there were moments in their songs where glimpses of heavy metal riffs would explode from the ether whilst Alessio Garavello's vocals cut through like a bat out of hell. I think what struck me the most was how mainstream their sound was in comparison to the bands earlier… Not a bad thing at all; I would say they're a clash between Foo Fighters meets The Smashing Pumpkins. And having listened to A New Tomorrow on myspace, I find Alessio's vocals very similar to the style of legend Billy Corgan. The fact that I am reminded subtly of the Foo Fighters was probably due to their bass player wearing a David Grohl t-shirt and kind of sporting a similar look as well… As a show however, this band gets all the top marks and I am sure we will hear more from them in the not so distant future.
And finally, the stars of the night, Achilla. I tried looking up the meaning of the bands name, I even tried translating it from various languages into English, but the closest I got was Achilles, some kind of Greek Warrior… If this has any relation to the bands seemingly meaningful name, I couldn't say… However I did find the very influential front lady Martamaria, quite the Greek Warrior indeed.
The band start their set with some wild metal twists on the guitar, heavy breaths vibrating from the bass as the kick drum steers the night into action. Martamaria elegantly and with full force, gets on stage and lets her svelte body lean backwards and forwards, the blond wisps of her hair flying as she hones into the microphone, crooning out seductive lyrics. This woman knows what she's doing.
As they're just about to hit the second verse of their second song, something happens. Power cut. And yet somehow, I'm not surprised. Yup. A band like Achilla, with their energetic sound, would suck any city dry from electricity. Without the usual flapping and panic stricken faces from less professional bands, Achilla remain cool, calm and collected. And whilst the sound engineer's pulling fresh cables onto the stage as the guitarists check their amps, Martamaria grabs the microphone and banters on about t-shirts for sale, cities they've toured and how much their album costs. Not much later - Power's back on! And with the show saved, Achilla continue the second song from their set, blowing up every note with purpose as if their lives depended on it.
And when I'm not pleasantly distracted by Martamaria's performance and natural edge, guitarist Daniele and his speedy scale playing during the solo parts is so fast, his fingers become a blur.
Having been on tour for some weeks, this band doesn't falter. Their professionalism is what makes them stand out as the real thing. Their consistency in playing their instruments with confidence is refreshing, whilst the strength of their performance is entertaining but not at all contrived.
My Sunday evening of metal and booze comes to an end. And as I hit the streets, the evening air soaking the shadows as the orange street lights bounce off the cobbled pavements, I can't help but think, this was definitely an unconventional Sunday night indeed and I look forward to more.