Talanas, Spires and Ascent
Satan’s Hollow, Manchester – 22nd November 2012
Words and pics by Rich Price
Satan’s hollow, wow, anyone who’s been will know the care and attention to detail which has gone into the venue, a huge sculpted Satan overhangs the DJ console, the walls and columns are all decked out like hell itself, with wrought iron work, the name Satan’s Hollow is clearly very apt.
Knowing nothing about Ascent prior to the gig I wasn’t overly concerned about getting stuck in traffic due to the bad weather and missing the start of their Instrumentalist set. However, as soon as I arrived I was kicking myself, apparently playing only their second gig, Ascent are an amazing band. A rock solid powerhouse of a rhythm section from Tom Rice and Chris Gaduzo on bass, supporting some tremendous guitar work from Danny white, and some equally impressive keyboards from Andy James round out a great sound from a young band. They’re more in the progressive metal style associated with the likes of Symphony X (for instance) as opposed to the progressive death of the headliners.
The crowd clearly got behind them and were cheering along and clapping away, I was honesty impressed. Ascent clearly show some real potential, they are definitely one to watch out for in the future. Luckily I caught the last few songs and I shall definitely be keeping an eye open for when they play again. Great show guys.
The next band up was the simply faultless ‘Spires’. Now I’ve seen Spires on a few occasions (the last time was one of their acoustic sets in support of Jase Edwards and Blaze Bayley) and they just never fail to impress; Consistent, technical, diverse and soulful.
It’s clear that their hometown crowd also knew what to expect and loved every minute of a wonderfully delivered technical set of some of the best progressive metal.
Tracks like “The Infinite descent”, from the excellent “Spiral of Ascension” really get the crowd behind them. A stunning vocal performance from Paul Sadler, who effortlessly moves from gut wrenching roars to some genuinely sublime soaring clean vocals with enough passion in them to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. This coupled with guitar work in tandem with the excellent Paul Cuthbert. The sound was completed with a rock solid rhythm section from Alex Jolley on an impressively large bass (well until Talanas came out with an even bigger one), coupled with a fantastic performance from Chris Barnard on drums.
Followed by a breathtaking new track called “The Fevered Spirit” which demonstrates the quality of the band, a second apparently unnamed new track hint further at the promise of next year’s release. Finishing on Broken Hourglass, Spires turn out yet another great performance.
How they’re not FAR bigger is beyond me. If you ever get the chance to see them live, do it, whether they’re playing an acoustic or electric you really won’t regret it.
Opening with a bang with the track “Penetralium” from 2011’s “The Waspkeeper”, main act Talanas were playing what I believe was their first gig in a year and had two tough act’s to follow. However, if there was any hint of rustiness then it really wasn’t noticeable. They have evidently been hitting the rehearsal space with the vigour of the big fella hanging over the DJ console here. They are warming up to a much deserved European support tour with My Dying Bride, and my word did they mean business, clearly loving every second and revelling in the opportunity to get out and bang their heads again.
Following up with the “Ecstasy of Betrayal”, Talanas pretty much cement the fact that they are yet another quality band worthy of greater attention. Like Spires before them, we were treated to a new song from next year’s follow up to “The Waspkeeper”, in the form of “Corpseflower”, which again hints very promisingly at the quality of the future release. With new material like this from Talanas and Spires on the horizon 2013 is shaping to be another promising year for metal fans everywhere.
The set continued with an extremely good cover of “Next of kin to chaos” by Napalm Death. before heading back into some of their older material in the form of “Diaphora”, followed by probably their best known track “Antiphon”, and ending on “Aorta”, which saw half the band out and about playing and head banging in and with the crowd, and generally showing that both they and we were having a great time all around.
The level of musicianship on display here is genuinely impressive (a fact readily applied to all three bands), coupled with the consummate ease with which front man Hal Sinden addresses the crowd. The guitar work on offer here was of excellent quality, and seven strings used aplenty by Hal and Ewan Parry, and indeed a 7 string Bass played with consummate ease by Mark Duffy, who completes the rhythm section with Joe Butterworth playing on the biggest drum kit I think I’ve ever seen. The line up was completed by session keyboardist Sam Loynes of Voices, Diminished Fifth and Akercocke. Talanas are clearly a band who as well as being musically proficient can also perform, and as was obvious to everyone in the room that night, love every second of doing it.
On a side note, one of the highlights not just of this gig, but of a great many gigs I’ve been to in many a decade was the ability to walk behind and watch a drummer as talented as Joe Butterworth, playing odd time signatures and blast beats on the appropriately named leviathan drum kit, which had me grinning from ear to ear.
All these guitarists and bass players they can watch from the audience and marvel at the technical prowess of the musicians they’re watching: most often we poor drummers are left trying to get a view of a flash of stick, or if lucky some ear or a hair (or worse ear hair). So a gig in this venue watching three bands of such outstanding quality is something I’ll genuinely remember with a smile for a very long time. Now all we need to do is convince Dave Lombardo to do a drum clinic in this place and I’ll have died and gone to heaven.
Talanas will be touring with My Dying Bride starting tomorrow in London on Friday 6th December so be sure to get down early and show your support.
The Ecstasy of Betrayal
Corpseflower (new track)
Next of Kin to Chaos (Napalm Death)