It was a long, long time coming. Before I get in to how brilliant they were, and they definitely were, I have to say a few words about their support for the night, F.S.I.
I don’t know what that means and I didn’t ask. They fire things up with great enthusiasm and even include a tribute to the late Brian Griffin. They’re a London 4 piece, like Skreamer. You get situations where you find yourself wondering ‘How have I not heard of these guys?’ Metal is a tight community, and these guys have been going a few years now.
The influences on the guitar, in this case Zakk Wylde, are highly noticeable, and so often things like that can go against a band because people think of copy cats. The reason it doesn’t apply with F.S.I is because it complements the music in an original way. This couldn’t be further from anything Zakk has ever done with BLS or Ozzy. The clean parts in the vocals are reminiscent of early grunge in places, but you also have hard hitting shrieks on par with the best contemporary growlers that – and this is very rare – I had no trouble to understand. I very much enjoy it when a vocalist that utilises a growling style pays attention to make sure words are distinguishable in parts OTHER than those that are performed with clean vocals.
I strongly urge you to hear for yourselves, and the good news is that until you get to a live gig, you can hear them for free by going to www.fsiband.com and clicking on their streaming link.
The main event arrived. SKREAMER.
They’re a very good band so when I say I was very disappointed I only mean in myself, for being such a monumental fool as to not have seen them sooner having had the chance. Namely last month at the Underworld in Camden.
If the phrase ‘wise beyond their years’ can be attributed to a band then that band has to be Skreamer. Why? Because, while they have a lot of attention due to their originality and talent, crucially there is also the fact that they know how to handle it. They’re like a band that has been gigging for ten years. I have not been this impressed by an unsigned band in what now seems like half a lifetime ago before Evile signed with Earache Records.
All the ingredients are there. Solid, enjoyable, original metal with a set list that has just the right pace to enthral a crowd not going to mental for too long without a break, but not slowing down to the point where people are disengaging. Throwing in covers of Pantera and Sepultura songs at just the right moments goes down a storm.
I remember seeing the headlines in 2007, hearing the story breaking about the horrible attack on Sophie (Lancaster) which ultimately resulted in her death. A dedication to her by way of a song called ‘Victim’ is a particular highlight for me. It emphasises what I and many others felt like at the time it happened, while people all around the world were thinking that it was metalheads and goths that were dangerous, to be avoided as if we are in some kind of twisted cult. I digress.
On such a tiny stage, the ability to make use of what little room is available to the best possible ability is a trick that isn’t missed. Impressive guitar skills aside, frontman Sam Morter knows how to work a crowd – a skill he has close to mastered very early on, at a tender age of just fuckin 21.
I had a chat with them afterwards and said to them quite honestly that they were the best unsigned band I have seen for a very long time. What I didn’t say, and should have, was that they are the best band unsigned or otherwise I have seen for a long time. They need to be snapped up and playing support to bigger bands, and to larger crowds in festival tents and newcomer stages. They already had a taste of that at this year’s Bloodstock festival and won ‘Most exciting band of 2013’ in a vote by Global Metal Apocalypse followers.
We’ll no doubt be hearing more about them soon because they are just what is needed in the metal community at the moment. Too often we see lots of bands are doing very similar things to everyone else – they can be enjoyable but unfortunately they are not often memorable because they get caught up in trends, or they want things too quickly and sign for the sake of signing when they’re not ready. While there are many great bands out there, Skreamer are one of the few that really kick things in to gear in a way that sets them apart from their peers. People often say things like “These guys could be the next [insert bigger band of same or similar genre]”. I don’t like that. It gives people some kind of misguided expectation and in my humble view that needs to be eradicated. Go see them and make up your own minds.