Biomechanical / OutCryFire / Anchorhead
18 February 2008
Camden Underworld, London

Often support bands struggle to get people to come near to the stage at the Underworld, as Halide tonight’s opening band had discovered. However, when your band consists of characters from Star Wars, this proved not to be a problem as the crowd rushed to get a closer look. Before us was Anchorhead, named after a City on Tatooine and consisting of Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper on guitars, a Scout Stormtrooper on bass, a TIE Pilot on drums and Emperor Palpatine on vocals.

Kicking off with a live rendition of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, soon the familiar strains of John Williams’ Main Theme from Star Wars was being reproduced accurately in metal form under the new guise of Shredisode IV. These are not straight renditions however. Anchorhead play what they call Darth Metal and break away from the scored music on occasion into downtuned riffing with Emperor Palpatine employing a death growl. Comically, on conclusion of an opening section which also took in snippets of the Imperial March and the Cantina Band theme from Chalmun’s Cantina on Tatooine, Emperor Palpatine was suffering some issues with his mask and quipped, “My face is falling off. It’s that dark side energy!”

Both guitarists were employing eight string guitars and impressively making full use of them. The scored sections were very technical at times and it’s clear that a lot of work has been put into them by Anchorhead. As a result, the music is not always headbanger friendly and the crowd watch more in curious disbelief and enjoyment. This is certainly a novelty act worth checking out and hopefully Anchorhead can build upon it. Completing the rest of the costumes would be a great start, as I don’t recall seeing Boba Fett in sports wear before!

Anchorhead set list included (I think!):
20th Century Fox Fanfare / Shredisode IV / Imperial March / Shredisode V (The Empire Strikes Back)

This was our second encounter with OutCryFire this year, having previously seen them here with Prong. They certainly seem to be making progress in getting good support slots and tonight matched their impressive performance last month. In fact, familiarity with some of the band’s material lead to a more enjoyable experience and the catchiness of Slaves in particular was a highlight.

As before, frontman Matt Hayday bounded around the stage, appearing as the band came on brandishing two cans of beer. As the band’s time was more limited, Hayday didn’t indulge in quite as much banter but remained amusing. In reference to the band that had preceded OutCryFire, Hayday’s main story tonight revolved around blowing off a chance with a hot girl in order to watch Star Wars.

Lamb Of God mixed with the musical melody of Megadeth influence the OutCryFire sound and once again Mike Aldridge’s guitar work impressed. Dawn Of Forgiveness introduced a more progressive feel, whereas closer Dirtbomb was as direct as its name suggests.

OutCryFire set list:
Charge / Slaves / OutCryFire / 123 Dead / Dawn Of Forgiveness / Dirtbomb

Aside from a one-off brief Earache Xmas party appearance, tonight represented the full live debut of Biomechanical’s new line-up, following John K’s well reported split with the previous line-up last year. It was also the first date on a short UK tour promoting new album Cannibalised, so unsurprisingly we were going to hear a good portion of it tonight.

Opening with the album’s first track, Fallen In Fear, the first thing that hits you is the sheer power of John K’s vocals. His pitch was spot on from the first note, heading into range’s that would seem impossible to reach. OutCryFire’s Matt Hayday had joked earlier that John K’s vocals are powerful enough to make head’s explode and you start to believe him.

As Enemy Within from the Empires Of The World follows, John K calls for a show of horns which is reciprocated by the crowd at the front. The sheer intensity of the material seems to leave those gathered unsure of how to react and results in intense stares of concentration at the band. The scream at the start of that album’s title track certainly woke them up and there’s increased movement on stage. The second most familiar face is of course new bassist Adrian Lambert, formerly of Dragonforce. Lambert certainly looked a lot healthier than when I’d last seen him with is former outfit and the dexterity required for Biomechanical’s style seemed to suit his playing well. Equally happy to roam the stage was guitarist Gus Drax. Tossing his hair about, Drax wore the expression of a kid in a sweet shop and he’s certainly still got bigger crowds than this to look forward to.

By The Unseen, things really seemed to be clicking into place with an incredibly tight sound. Head’s banged to the Pantera like riff and John K veered from Anselmo like roaring to Halford’s highest realms. The second of the new guitarists Chris Van Hayden really shone during this song with some great tapping. Van Hayden is certainly committed to his instrument, but of all the new members seemed the least comfortable on stage. Hiding beneath a baseball cap he hardly moved for the duration, save for his fingers flying around the fretboard. To be fair this is the start for this line-up and you can imagine him loosening up with further dates under his belt.

Through Hatred Arise was epic in its scope and saw Drax taking the spotlight with an excellent guitar solo. This was a short let up before Jonno Lodge let rip with his drums and Predatory, Reborn In Damnation and Assaulter flashed by and the set was over. No encore and with two songs dropped from the onstage setlist, the show felt somewhat curtailed. Hopefully this was nothing to do with the size of the crowd, which with little time to promote this show was disappointing. Personally I would have liked at least one song from the band’s debut Eight Moons to have made an appearance, though its understandable with the intensity of Biomechanical’s music that these are not songs you can knock together quickly in a practice room with a new band.

Overall, the new line-up of Biomechanical shows incredible potential and entertained this evening whilst certainly leaving us wanting more.

Biomechanical set list:
Fallen In Fear / Enemy Within / The Empires Of The World / The Unseen / Cannibalised / Through Hatred Arise / Predatory / Reborn In Damnation / Assaulter