Lost Society // North Atlas // Live Review // The Exchange // Bristol
Fresh from their own headline tour and announced just a handful of days ago as a replacement act for Dead Labelon the UK leg of Lost Society’s ‘If The Sky CameDown’ tour, North Atlas are support for tonight’s show. The four musicians take to the stage beneath a glow of red and strobing lighting and in front of an audience keen to learn more about them. There’s a theme to the body paint and clothing symbols – think Post-Apocalyptic pictographs and you won’t go far wrong – but each member wears it differently; top to toe in the case of the guitarist (Arran Tarvet), a boiler suit at half-mast for the drummer (Cam Hunter), just on the trousers for the vocalist (Leon Hunter) whilst the bassist (Michael Hall) sports a more impressionistic take, it’s quite mesmerizing as a whole. “We are North Atlas from Scotland thank you to Lost Society for having us along at short notice” announces LH before the band launches into ‘Superego’ the second song of the set.
North Atlas’ sound is hard to describe, experimental and comprised of many elements, synthesized sounds play a key role and the vocals reach deeply satisfying gruff levels whilst remaining clear. The music twists and turns from one mood to the next; catchy choruses are laid over fuzzed-out bass strums and rhythmic guitar work is accentuated with a punchy marching drum style – drums that certainly aren’t held back – perhaps Futuristic Industrial would suffice? The stage presence of the band is also inspiring – LH works the crowd with his questions – never satisfied with the first answer, making sure he gets the amount of feedback that he wants – “that’s more like it I’m starting to like you now Bristol” he states at one point. All members supply varying degrees of vocal support and the bassist proves his multi-instrumental abilities by pounding back-up percussion into a floor tom to accompany the drummer in ‘Midnight Sun’, (CH takes this opportunity to shoehorn some extra rim shots and bell into the mix) whilst also handling synthesizer duties. Attention-grabbing and enjoyable with a clear accent (just listen to the chorus in ‘House of Mirrors’) it’s easy to warm to this band and they hold the crowds interest and enthusiasm throughout.
The excitement in the Bristol Exchange is palpable as The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ rings out. An “Incoming Transmission from Lost Society” cuts through the speakers and the band appears on stage launching straight in with ‘112’. The gig isn’t quite sold out but there’s a decent volume of fans who have braved the lashing rain to be here tonight and the band’s strong following is obvious from the crowd reaction. The front row can’t stop headbanging and by the time vocalist/guitarist Samy Elbanna jeers “Do you want a fucking Riot?!” the energy has amplified tenfold (the answer was “yes” if you were in any doubt.) This show has been carefully choreographed, there’s no denying it, we’re talking guitar solos shared expertly between lead guitarist Arttu Lesonen and SE, solid bass lines from Mirko Lehtinen that shudder through the audience, a shedload of audience interaction including neatly placed segues into songs “Bristol where would you be If The Sky Came Down Tonight?” Yes, at times the cheese aspect does feel a little elevated – the “do you feel me on the left, and do you feel me on the right?” is one example – but the musicians carry this off through the sheer mastery of their craft and a set list of seventeen songs that flip genres seamlessly. There are Drum and bass plus Thrash Metal moments in ‘(We Are The) Braindead’ and more Metalcore moments in the vocals of ‘Awake’ fused with intricate guitar solos from AL but also riffs that verge on Groove Metal.
When all other band members exit the stage leaving just SE to sing ‘Suffocating’ there is a risk that it could all become a little too slow and quiet but the vocal performance packs a massive punch and the crowd lap it up. ‘Kill (Those who Oppose Me)’ ramps the speed back up and drummer Taz Fagerström has a lot of fun with this one. ‘Creature’ brings a Doomier but equally lovely feel, this song might be quite at home hanging around a graveyard, in fact, going on first impressions alone, you’d think the entire band might be, their aesthetic has a powerful essence of ‘Lost Boys’ about it as TF swigs from a can of Liquid Death (we know it’s only water but still…) Perhaps that’s why SE wears those silver cross earrings all night despite most upper layers of clothing being removed; first the studded jacket, then the Misfits vest? At any rate, the audience are hypnotized, their yew-like arms held high in appreciation of every syllable, beat and that especially impressive long held note. The band round off the song ‘Outbreak’ with a little taste of NIN ‘Head Like a Hole’ and there’s a brief stage exit before they return for an encore of three more songs. This is only the second show out of a string of twenty-nine dates and the “four dudes from Finland” have played an absolute blinder, the set has been polished to within an inch of its life and it’s rewarded in huge applause. Catch them live when you can!