LIVE REPORT: The Injester, And?!, Helestios and Katja Macabre @ Surburbia, Southampton 03.06.2022

In the middle of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, a dark ordeal was taking place. Anonymous clown horde THE INJESTER were giving one of their warmup rituals in time for their big top ceremony at Download Festival. Joining their mischievous goings on were equally troublesome AAND?, mixed metal outfit HELESTIOS and the powerful KATJA MACABRE.

As I arrived at the venue, KATJA MACABRE had started her set. Being the opening band of any live show can be a daunting prospect, Katja rose to this challenge spectacularly and she took the punters along for the ride whether you were ready or not.  I was instantly taken by her raw, gritty and straight to the point hard rock. Think HALESTORM, add a bit of NO DOUBT and a smidge of ARCH ENEMY; this should give you a rough idea on what KATJA MACABRE sounds like. Katja’s powerful, passionate and versatile voice communicates across the pain, anger and heartbreak that the each of her songs displayed; so much so that you start to feel these emotions with her. This remarkable voice teamed with her killer confidence and infectious energy makes her one to watch out for.

HELESTIOS call themselves a mixed metal genre band on their social media and after experiencing their set, I agree with this wholeheartedly. Their set consisting of guttural growls, finger blistering solos and pounding drums made it challenging to pinpoint them into one genre. To have your own distinct sound early on is a huge feat so a huge metal horns to HELESTIOS for achieving this so early on. One moment I am thinking they could be the demonic offspring of AMON AMARTH and OPETH, the next moment you get a folk metal instrumental force of nature that wouldn’t be out of place on an ELUVIETIE record. Whatever sound they were producing, the pumping energy it produced spread around the venue. Note for when you go watch them live; expect a bangover.

Before this show, I was familiar with fun antics of AAND?. Have you tried forgetting black and white chequered morph suits as stage attire? If so, best of luck as it’s impossible.  It had been a while since watching them live and I was quickly reminded why I enjoyed their last set. Through absolute hilarity, high energy and hard-hitting sounds; they had a brilliant and unpredictable show in hand. When I say unpredictable, you think they finished a song, but they hadn’t. It was a great way to keep the crowd on their toes; in fact, it worked so well that when they were finishing their set, I wasn’t sure if it was the actual finish, or it was another ruse. Either way, it was an enjoyable set and they ensured the crowd were prepared for headliners THE INJESTER.

Now, it was time. Time for the clown horde THE INJESTER to make their appearance. Before they could cause chaos and pandemonium, lockdown had been enforced. Since they were unleashed, they have been causing havoc performing at live shows; being praised by fans and critics alike.

They wasted no time when starting this sinister show with the ominous Knifeblower. When reviewing albums during the pandemic, I personally found the best opening tracks were ones that lure you in and then hit you with a large impact. Due to the creepy circus theme piquing curiosity before hitting you with the stompy madness, Knifeblower is now hailed as a best opening track.  I would like to make a note when vocalist Ashe belts out “I know you”, it sounds like the start of a very eerie rendition of Once Upon A Dream from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Now I have mentioned this, I can’t be the only one who wants to hear this now.

My only criticism was I couldn’t quite hear the vocals at first; that might have been a sound issue or my experienced ears going deaf. This was sorted very quickly and the sideshow continued gloriously. Despite this glitch, my enjoyment of this spooky and fun show was not tinted in the slightest.

THE INJESTER are a relatively new horde of clowns yet they already have an eclectic range of songs. Theses are enough to lure the average victims….I mean music fans in. They showcased performances of their songs that are already plaguing the airwaves such as the hard hitting Big Top Voyeurs and Jack’s Box, that wouldn’t be out of place on a BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE album. Another lot of songs were for the unfortunate victims who happened to be in their vicinity; these included sinister thumping sounds from Gin & Bone, the upbeat yet gritty Curses and new anthem Clown Horde.

They closed their set triumphantly with a brilliant cover of ROB ZOMBIE classic Dragula. This is one of my personal favourite ROB ZOMBIE songs so they have successfully converted me to being part of their horde following.

It was a great show all around from each of these bands. If you are heading to Download this weekend, be sure to catch THE INJESTER’s big show on the Sunday Morning. One word of advice? Catch these bands now whilst they are still playing these venues, expect a sore neck and a strong desire to go back.

Words: Lotty Whittingham

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