Deathstars / Marionette / The Defiled
21 April 2009
Islington Academy, London

I couldn’t fault The Defiled for their presentation opening for the Deathstars. Attired somewhere between modern day Motley Crue and Marilyn Manson, the London band hit the stage with a burst of energy. The A.v.D. actually spent more time wrestling his keyboards than playing them during the opening song, whilst frontman Stitch D roared into the microphone. Musically the band plough a heavier furrow than their image hinted at, channelling the aggression of Machine Head and Slipknot through an industrialised blender.

The sound didn’t do the band any favours with guitars popping in and out and the keyboard making an appearance at unpredictable noise levels. This could be the reason why I was left quite cold and at times I worryingly recalled the birth of, shhhhh …nu metal. The Defiled have an album due soon and I’d like to give them a second hearing with a more satisfying sound.

The Defiled set list:
The Resurrectionists / ? / Agent 88 / End Of Innocence / Analysing / Red Tape

Strutting on stage to a hardcore rave intro like a prize fighter Marionette’s frontman Axel Widén took up position centre stage with his back to the audience, draped with the band’s backdrop. Launching into Parasite the band turn a few heads with their image also perhaps wrong footing the crowd. Widén himself sports a short mohawk with his eyes blackened with make up. Meanwhile it’s teased hair all round, shirts and tie’s, with keyboard player Linus Johansson notably keeping a check on his quiff and scarf between headbanging.

Musically however Marionette most readily brought to mind fellow Swedes Sonic Syndicate with a sound familiar to their home country. One has to wonder if the influence of In Flames and Soilwork has created a whole raft of bands in this style, though certainly the ones that are coming through are impressive. Hitting us with the first four cuts from their debut album Spite, which also happen to be the best four, the response leads Widén to declare “We officially like you”. The feeling was mutual and a new song, whose full title I didn’t catch but was listed as Stench, showed there’s more to come from the Gothenburg six piece.

Marionette set list:
Parasite / Legion / Release / Flies / Burn Me / Stench / In Spite / This Is The End / Black Hand

There’s an impressive turn out for what must have been the Deathstars biggest UK headline gig to date. High pitch screams greeted the band’s appearance on stage with frontman Whiplasher mincing around the stage in a red feather boa to Night Electric Night. The camp factor continued as he waved his arse at the crowd as Motherzone followed with the crowd clapping along. Mid song guitarists Cat and Nightmare Industries together with bassist Skinny lined up across the front of the stage with arms and devil horns aloft in the first of many regimented stage moves. Such well drilled manoeuvres made for an impressive performance.

Following Mark Of The Gun, Whiplasher scalded the audience noting “I have unbuttoned an entire jacket without you screaming.” Of course this ensured maximum high pitch screeches as he slowly disrobed through the set. The rest of the band ghost around the stage pulling poses. Bassist Skinny with his, erm, skinny frame and rope like hair cast a particular strong presence. Much more so than when we spotted him sans make up in the pub before hand testing the local brews.

This was the longest set I had seen by the Deathstars and it has to be said that at times the similarity of the songs became a tad monotonous. Mark Of The Gun and Blood Stained Blondes in particular giving that déjà vu feeling. For the latter of those two Whiplasher rambled on about destroying the pretty blonde girls which didn’t raise a cheer from the fairer haired members of the crowd.

Where the audience reaction and set really lifted was when material from Termination Bliss was played with the stomping Blitzkrieg and hook laden Cyanide particular strong. The constraints of the keyboards and samples on backing tapes made for a less organic performance, though given the industrial nature of the Deathstars metal, that lent itself to the necessary coldness. In summary this was a great fun set and certainly exceeded my expectations.

Deathstars set list:
Night Electric Night / Motherzone / Semi-Automatic / Mark Of The Gun / Tongues / Last Ammunition / Fuel Ignites / New Dead Nation / Trinity Fields / Synthetic Generation / Chertograd / Blitzkrieg / Blood Stains Blondes / Cyanide / Death Dies Hard / The Revolution Exodus

The Defiled