Arkdown // After Smoke Clears // Dominion of Ashes // Die Kurr // Live Review // The Coproration // Sheffield

The metal and rock scenes are in the midst of a revival right now. The newly explored mixing of genres have enabled bands to explore more sounds whilst also retaining their core elements. Bands seeping through the cracks who would otherwise have gone unnoticed, never achieving their full potential. One such band is Arkdown.

Arkdown was formed in 2016, and currently contains the four members Joe (vocals), Mike (guitarist), Mike Walker (guitarist) and Alex (drummer). The band are heavy metal with the use of melodic instruments and harsh vocals.

One thing I love about shooting underground bands is the ability to sit and chat beforehand. Learning stories about the band and what experiences they’ve had so far on their journey. I even managed to score a tour of their renovated van, which they use to save money on accommodation during their tours. The van is kitted out with two double bunk beds and an xbox with a TV and cosy table in the middle. How the band fit into the two double beds is something I will have to explore later on, as someone who moves around a lot to the point I sleep with two ear plugs in and wake to them being lost among the bed sheets, it’s hard for me to comprehend sharing a bed in such a tight space.

Sitting down with Alex, the drummer, I managed to hear stories about the band and their how they started. I was curious to ask about what encouraged them to get into the van life. Alex shared the worst accommodation experience they had. Before the van, they would sofa surf and sleep on people’s floors. A house he was haunted by featured the likes of slugs in the bathroom and dead spiders around the house because the host had “recently lost [her] lizard.” To clear my mind of that imagery, I asked their best accommodation. Alex smiles as he recalled hosts staying up til 2am with a plethora of food ready for the band, including four garlic breads.

Whilst chatting with the members, I also managed to meet Christian. Christian is a Danish fan who travels to see the band live in the UK. Once the band learned they had a fan coming from so far they adopted Christian into their circle. The first time they met Christian, they took him to Wetherspoons, brought him on the tour with them and even to a Christmas market at one point. Christian’s love for the band is heralded with an Arkdown tattoo on his calf which features one of the band member’s own designs.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to hear all the stories but in good news it was due to the first band hitting the stage.

The concert had four bands in total, with the headline act being Arkdown.

Die kurr were the first band to put on a show for the growing crowd. The four members on stage had great synergy, with a sound that mixed heavy vocals and synths together. The sound created was different and unique, it was clear to see the band had gained some new fans this night. Whilst the band created an amazing atmosphere, it would’ve been great to see more crowd interaction from the band to get the crowd pumped for the rest of the show.

Second up was Dominion of Ashes. The vocalist brought a great energy to the stage with his movements and being constantly on the go. Nothing hypes a crowd up as much as the vocalist showing their vitality. The harsh vocals and heavy instruments blended well together to form a great atmosphere within the room and build upon what Die Kurr had started. It would’ve been amazing to see more interaction with the crowd, much like the first band.

After Smoke Clears was next. The 4 piece from London opened up their set with clear and stable vocals. The members showed off their stamina with ever-moving members, the guitarists at one point switching sides and one even going as far as standing on an extra platform. The energy the band brought to the stage is something that so far no other band has brought. One thing I loved about their set was the interaction they held with the crowd throughout as well as the stage banter. Joking around with the crowd and encouraging them to get involved. Getting close to the end of the stage and moshing with the audience below shows they know how to get the crowd going and build up momentum for the headliner. The sound of the band was a great combination of harsh vocals with melodic heavy instruments, creating a fast paced environment for the metal-heads to get into the vibe. Towards the end of their set, the band encouraged the crowd to get involved with the ad libs for their song “Fear” having the crowd shout the word with the backing vocals.

Coming down from the set of After Smoke Clears left a need for more in the audience, after around 20 minutes it was now time for Arkdown.

Arkdown took to the stage with a burst of vigour that had us all pumped for the set. When you first meet Joe, he’s quiet and seems to be somewhat reserved, but once he takes the stage his stage banter and crowd interaction is on a whole other level to the man you just met a few minutes ago. The heat the room had generated was proving to be too much for Joe on stage and after exclaiming it was hot, he was encouraged to go shirtless (in which he remained for the rest of the show – much to some of the audiences delight, I’m sure). The crisp harsh vocals and backing vocals blended together well along with the heavy breakdowns to create a great night for gig goers. Though the majority of the band didn’t move around too much on stage, it was great to see the members interact with each other. The heat was clearly having an effect on the singer, finding himself breathless, but that didn’t stop him hitting those low growls and gurgles going into a song. He wiped himself with a towel someone had cleverly thought to leave on the stage, exclaiming his promise of a kiss to whoever had that idea. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see if this promise was held. Just when we thought the set over, the crowd began to cheer for an encore. Joe looked out to the crowd, conflicted, “you can visibly see how much moisture I’ve lost”, which was abruptly met with “shut up, encore!” And a “fine” from Joe. The band played one more song to round off the gig and leave the crowd with a lasting feeling of a good night.

One thing that stood out about Arkdown was the thought and planning they’d put into their band. Not only having a renovated van but also an abundance of their own stage lights. They had pre-warned me that they probably had “too many” to which I ignorantly thought it can’t be that bad…it was a lot…HOWEVER, as a photographer and videographer for bands, it’s better to have too much than too little…luckily the lights changed with the beats so it wasn’t a constant bright light.

The way to the green room in the Corporation is littered with posters all over the walls. Posters from years ago of different bands who played the venue. One poster stood out to me among all the others; Bring Me the Horizon with support from Architects and other special guests from 2006 at corp for £6 entry. The realisation that from 2006 to now, two bands who started out playing small venues and just vibing with the local scenes are now two of the most prominent names in the music scene of their respective genres is an insane thing to think about.

Arkdown at Corporation makes you realise the importance and community that comes from supporting indie bands in any music scene. If you’re a fan of metal, acoustic or even EDM, browse Facebook and other sites for the next small gig. You’ll make new friends, find new faves and if the artists play their cards right, potentially the next big name in the genre.


Review & Photography:

Jayne Slater