When I first heard that uprising Power Metal stars BATTLE BORN, progressive melodeath visionaries COUNTLESS SKIES and local death metal act EMBOLECTOMY were to put on a show at The Firehouse, Southampton; the thing that came to mind was the eclectic music lover’s playlist on shuffle. This is in no way a bad thing at all, in fact it was a great thing that three bands of three completely different styles came together and put on a fun-filled evening.
It’s no secret that live shows have been missed. The infectious atmosphere, catching up with many friends and getting to see bands perform in their absolute element. This is my first live review since lockdown and the pandemic; it was great to be back. My first thoughts of the show when first arriving was it was reassuring and brilliant to see many people coming to the venue to support the local live scene.
There was no beating around the bush when EMBOLECTOMY kicked off proceedings, they went straight in for the kill. As someone who loves great melodies, there isn’t too many in death metal but I do find if it has a great, catchy beat, I am on board. This is what EMBOLECTOMY displayed and it was clear from the mosh pits breaking out during their set that they had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands. After being in quarantine and staying cautious going out, seeing certain things again is like seeing something in the wild for the first time. This feeling came to mind after seeing a mosh pit for the first time in years. It’s high pressure to open up a gig and to get a crowd on board, it was clear from the crowd’s reception that EMBOLECTOMY proved to be a mighty band for opening up the show.
COUNTLESS SKIES were next to take to the stage. I had been meaning to check out them out for some time as I had seen their name pop up due to the recognition they are receiving. Due to their stunning display of progressive, melodeath greatness; it became clear very quickly why they are gaining popularity and respect. For those unfamiliar with their sound, I would describe it as if ELUEVETIE, SCAR SYMMETRY and OPETH all came together to a ritual in order to concoct a powerful force, COUNTLESS SKIES would be it. Their perfect mix of crisp, clean vocals and guttural growls worked flawlessly with the stunning music arrangements. The stunning tunes from special guest cellist Arianna Mahsayeh added that beautiful flavour to this already top notch sound. COUNTLESS SKIES are the new geniuses of visionary metal that every metal head should be watching and listening out for.
Headliners BATTLE BORN kicked things off with their self-titled track. Hearing the battle cries of the clan and the words being chanted back, it was safe to say that BATTLE BORN were in full swing and ready for battle.
Their setlist consisted of an excellent selection of songs; these either from their mighty debut EP, ones I had recognised from their HRH Vikings set and others I hadn’t heard before. My personal favourite out of the ones I hadn’t heard before was Power Force; due to a similar sounding melody, the start of the track had a similar feel to BEAST IN BLACK track Blind & Frozen. No complaints from me, that is a great track. It was a great experience chanting “Power Metal, Power Force” alongside the fellow clan members and band that I will not be forgetting anytime soon. I would also like to mention how much I enjoyed their performance For Our Home. It was a great way to take a break from the rapidness of battle and join arms in this performance. These two are festival anthems in the making
Speaking of festival anthems, there were many across their set. These included new metal party anthem Down Your Drinks And Raise Your Swords, fan favourites Sovengard Awaits and Man Of War. Not forgetting their newly released bonus track Hammer Of Might, that sounds like the result of a collaboration between JUDAS PRIEST and BATTLE BEAST. Lead vocalist Jack Reynolds describes as a two minute punch in the face when I interviewed him before the show and after experiencing it live, I fully agree. You can read the full interview here.
One thing I will not forget about this live show is the comradery between clan members and the band. This warm feeling of belonging was infectious right up until the mighty closer Bring The Metal Back.
Given the busyness of the venue and attendees queuing up to buy merchandise, it’s safe to say it was a successful night all round and the bands that performed will walk away with new fans. One parting sentence from me, catch these bands now whilst they are still playing these venues and in the words for BATTLE BORN: Bring the metal back.
Words: Lotty Whittingham