Divine Heresy / Blood Red Throne / Hacride
11 December 2007
Camden Underworld, London

Those arriving early at the Underworld were treated to an excellent set from Hacride. Sticking these guys in a pigeon hole is a non-starter with the French band mixing things up during lengthy pieces which seamlessly move between extremity and ambiance. At various times throughout the set, reference points such as Voivod and Meshuggah spring to mind, but Hacride retain originality.

With the exception of compilation track The Daily Round, Hacride’s set stuck to material from their superb Amoeba album. The abstract nature of the material made for an enthralling set as a whole, rather than a collection of songs. Guitarist Adrien Grousset mixed up staccato riffing colliding with off-kilter chords before melting away to clean fluid hypnotic respite. On the right of the stage drummer Olivier Laffond’s position right up front gave us a unique view to study his seemingly effortless complex playing. Handling vocals was stand-in live vocalist Yann Ligner, though his caustic delivery was of a quality to ensure that the absence of Samuel Bourreau was not noticeable.

You can usually tell if I’ve been particularly impressed by a band if I buy a t-shirt, which I did whilst Divine Heresy frontman Tommy Vext was trying one on for size to wear on stage later.

Hacride set list:
Perturbed / Fate / Deprived Of Soul / The Daily Round / Strength / On The Threshold Of Death

After a bit of a conflab trying to get a guitar amp to spring to life, Blood Red Throne filed out onto the Underworld stage. Having missed the opening night of the tour due to flight difficulties, the Norwegian’s looked delighted to be finally flattening a crowd with their old school death metal.

Lined up across the front of the stage, feet planted for the duration, the band set about circling their heads, even the bald headed Død, whilst knocking out their pummelling metal. With scars, spikes and a bloodied shirt, frontman Vald set about emitting in-human noises. Frankly if he was following the lyrics you wouldn’t have known.

The break of pace during The Children Shall Endure encouraged chants of “hey, hey” and pumping fists whilst Incarnadine Mangler was an obvious fan favourite. Blood Red Throne do this style of death well, though I have not found them to stand out from the crowd on record and the live experience whilst certainly more entertaining, did see my attention wandering at times and the allotted time was certainly sufficient.

Blood Red Throne set list included:
Unleashing Hell / Smite / The Children Shall Endure / Mephitication / Incarnadine Mangler / Deranged Assassin

In the five years since Dino Cazares and Fear Factory parted company, the seven-string guitarist appeared to have moved away from the sound he was most famed for. Concentrating on the more extreme and Spanish language bands Brujeria and Asesino, Cazares had been toying with a more commercial venture until he hooked up with former Hate Eternal and Nile drummer Tim Yeung and Divine Heresy was born.

As someone whose interest in Fear Factory had waned, Divine Heresy’s debut Bleed The Fifth took me by surprise. Much like this performance the album does not mess around. Aside from the brooding Closure at its end, the album features nine other to-the-point tunes, which take the Fear Factory format and crank it up a little. This is echoed in the live performance where Yeung’s drumming and Cazares’ fast picking are like a shot in the arm. I reference the album’s quality as the whole thing is played and reproduced expertly in the live environment.

Lifting the performance was the sheer energy of the band. Before the first chorus of opener Bleed The Fifth, Cazares and bassist Payne had traded places at either side of the stage and continually moved throughout the set. The catalyst though seemed to be frontman Tommy Vext who was a human dynamo bouncing round the stage and into the crowd by third song This Threat Is Real. Vext literally made his own bed to dive into by ordering the crowd to “Tear this shit down”.

Cazares seemed to love the intimate surroundings, with a constant smile when not singing along. There were craned necks to see the once rare sight of the guitarist ripping into a solo, during Impossible Is Nothing and as if to show the band’s ease, Cazares strolled over to Payne and they played each other’s guitar necks at the songs conclusion. Behind, the speedy Yeung looked at ease as the beats per minute increased and at times twirled his sticks as he provided the regimented backdrop.

The only song not on the Divine Heresy debut aired was a trip back to Fear Factory’s Self Bias Resistor which was willingly received by the crowd, though it has to be said, did not embarrass the rest of the material played. Cazares cheekily commented that he hadn’t heard anyone sing it that good in 10 years. Vext’s vocal performance was indeed strong, switching between the more extreme and clean vocals and able to pull off the more emotive Closure.

As the band were introduced, Cazares’ corrects the crowd when they chant “Dino”, to get them to chant “You fat bastard”. Such kinship with his audience is echoed by the whole band who promise to stay and sign anything at the merchandise stall after the show. Indeed they were still there as we left the building.

This was a breathless performance which far exceeded my expectations. The energy and fun onstage filtered through to the crowd and left us with one of the best sets I’ve seen this year.

Divine Heresy set list:
Bleed The Fifth / Impossible Is Nothing / This Threat Is Real / Savior Self / Rise Of The Scorned / False Gospel / Soul Decoded (Now & Forever) / Closure / Self Bias Resistor / Failed Creation / Royal Blood Heresy

Divine Heresy
Blood Red Throne