Next Stop Olympus
First to play are Salisbury based 5-piece Metalcore band Next Stop Olympus. The room is approximately a third full as they head onto stage, with people still arriving but there is no holding back on the might of this band. Conor McEniry is the long-haired front man who sets the tone with his fierce guttural vocals and impressive ability to hold a scream whilst stomping the boards. He introduces the band after the first song announces that the next song is their debut single ‘Home’ from their debut EP which is available on the merch stand along with T-shirts and wristbands. Rhythm guitarist Jeremy Scheepers kicks off this song and throughout their set is fully immersed in his playing often with his eye closed. Bass guitarist Matt Gray plays a pulse of chunky riffs and adds backing vocals and deep screams in all the right places whilst lead guitarist Harry Ellis pitches those solos whilst also picking up the vocals relay-style and providing more melodic/clean tone to accompany the growls. The audience is getting bigger and the band gets a good response between songs. Drummer Josh Williams provides a solid and steady beat and the brand new recently-released song ‘Hell to Bear’ song features a hefty intro and suitably hard and heavy instrumental breakdowns between verses with plenty of opportunities to bang those heads awake. Find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreNSO/
As Drummer Kyle Parke kicks in with the beat, the 4 musicians, stood facing him, immediately jump a half turn and begin playing, moving in time to their music. Male vocalist, William Young, standing upon a small platform for better hurling distance, screams a stream of throaty chewed up lyrics at the crowd whilst female vocalist Cherry Duesbury chases with the melodies. It serves as a great combination.
CD does a great job of introducing the band to Bristol and generally whipping up the crowd throughout the set. She not only splits the audience into 2 ‘teams’ and commands a round of successful lyric shout backs but also has them all crouching down and jumping up when told. No mean feat for a mid-week gig with a room that is currently just two thirds full. This naturally encourages a lot more crowd interaction and the band regularly check in, between songs, offering nuggets of motivation and addressing the issue of how important it is to support live music and thanking their audience for doing so.
It’s a solid rhythmic pounding drumming from KP throughout and lead guitarist Calum Wilmot nods and rocks, often licking his lips in concentration, whilst the bass guitarist Ian Harrington throws himself along with the notes.
This Alternative Metal band are experimental and there is just something about them that keeps you hooked. 2 floor tom drums are carried on stage at the start of one song so that IH and CW can join the drummer to form a trio for a short while before switching to playing the guitars that are still strapped to them and it’s back to a 5-piece complete with what sounds to be a sample track in the background.
The band finish with a brand-new unreleased song, introduced by CD as a song about “Taking any pain that you feel, and doing something with it” it is slower and more serious and has both screaming about “Darkest hour” and mellow “Find my way back” parts – much like life itself.
The 30-minute set is rewarded with a suitably warmed-up crowd, cheers and whistles. Find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/Defences
THE RAVEN AGE
Intro track ‘Bloom of the poison seed’ from the album Conspiracy is played across the PA as the 5-piece band take to the stage. Blasting straight into the powerful ‘Betrayal of the mind’ also from the Conspiracy album, the band are dynamic from the moment they begin. The vocals may appear a little quiet to begin but this is soon addressed by the sound techs and the song’s message is delivered well by the towering vocalist Matt James. He goes on to introduce the band to Bristol which harvests an eager response from the crowd.
‘Promised Land’ from their Darkness Will Rise album is the next song and has a roomful of fists pumping the air in time. Vocals are strong, tuneful and now at a steady volume with backing vocals being supplied by bass guitarist Matt Cox who somehow manages to really thrust those catchy bass riffs out at the same time. Guitarist Tony Maue brings a true rock feel to the stage with his facial expressions and attitude and his lively energy permeates the crowd as he successfully encourages them to move with him and chant at the relevant “hey hey hey” parts.
“It feels amazing to be finally on the road, playing this album” states Matt James as the band launch in to ‘Surrogate’ from the Conspiracy album, which has the whole floor moving. The stage has striking backdrops of the Conspiracy album artwork and other than this is just plainly lit with no fancy displays. This means that much attention can be paid to the intricate and seamless guitar solos from George Harris and the impressively merciless drumming that Drummer Jai Patel is performing throughout the set on a stunning kit. This band are energetic multi-taskers, using every spare inch of the stage and stepping forward onto the rails to greet and include their audience, amazingly weaving to avoid collisions with each other and the frequently flying mic stand of the vocalist, who even takes a turn on acoustic guitar.
The set is comprised of a handful of songs from the 2017 Darkness Will Rise album but largely focused on the new 2019 Conspiracy album, as you might expect, being that the tour is named ‘The Conspiracy Tour’. ‘Fleur De Lis’ begins with a pep talk to get the crowd motivated into “doing stuff to change things” with more pumping drums from JP, plenty of guitar shredding and extra growls provided by MC. Whilst ‘The day the world stood still’ is full of substance and James’ every word spills out convincingly with intent whether gentle or harsh.
If you like crunching riffs, powerful shredding, stories within songs, a beat that will get your heart racing and an enthusiastic approach to your live music then you really need to go and see this band perform. Find out more including current tour dates at: https://www.theravenage.com/
Review: Suzi Bootz
Photography: Emma Painter