Devil Sold His Soul + We Butter The Bread With Butter + Palm Reader @ Rock City Basement, Nottingham – Saturday 5th October

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Review by Matt Bradley

It’s always hard when a band undergoes a line-up change. The inter-band relationship alters, the process of writing songs can be affected and most noticeably to the fans, the sound will change somewhat. A new guitarist, bassist or drummer, to most people, will not impact a band’s output to a worrying degree but the same cannot be said for a vocalist. As the front person of the band, their voice is the main hook. Their features effectively become the new face of the group, and their personality and social presence become the band in human form. It’s a huge task to undertake and for Devil Sold His Soul, the proof of whether or not they’d accomplished that gargantuan task was to be revealed when they hit the stage the conclude the night.

Devil Sold His SoulBefore that though, RockCity’s Basement was wildly awoken by the immense power of Palm Reader. For various press-related reasons involving passes, payment and pissed-off-ness, MR entered the room a mere ten minutes before the end of the Woking lads set. When describing themselves, Palm Reader say ‘we play loud, we play heavy, we play hard, we play fast’. That’s pretty much it. Chaotic and malevolent, Palm Reader did a stellar job of waking up the Nottingham crowd.

How many times have you been told to never judge a book by it’s cover? More times than you care to remember, right? Well, your mum was right… unless that book is called We Butter The Bread With Butter. Quite possibly the most ridiculously named band in the world hit the stage next with a brilliant intro tape and opening minute or so of instrumental metal, backed up with atmospheric orchestral synth-work. Then the page turned from contents to chapter one and it all went downhill from there. Paul Bartzsch lacklustre vocals were cringeworthy and the music transformed from creepy metal to electro-pop-rock with the occasional breakdown thrown in. Admittedly, the band are from Germany so Bartzsch’s command of the English language wasn’t ever going to be overly impressive but getting the crowd to clap along twenty times within the first five songs and repeating ‘jump, jump, jumpjumpjumpJUMP!!’ before every single (predictable) tempo increase proved how little imagination they have in terms of live shows. That, in addition to zero crowd interaction between abysmal songs really makes the mind boggle as to why so many of the crowd in the Basement were giving these guys so much of their energy. The lasers attached to the band members sucked too.

A collective “thank f*ck for that” was heard from the older crowd at the back of the room when WBTBWB finally left the stage, and now was the moment everyone was really waiting for. After the departure of Ed Gibbs earlier in the year, Devil Sold His Soul still had a touring cycle to finish. A vocalist down, things looked bleak. To borrow Gibbs’ lyrics, it seemed like DSHS were ‘going to see the end of days approach, faster than we would have hoped’. Fortunately, good friend Paul Green (of The Arusha Accord) stepped in and worked his arse off to not only learn the band’s back catalogue but help write a new song to perform on the upcoming tour in question. The atmosphere was that of excitement, expectation and nervousness. Would Devil Sold His Soul be better than they were before, as good as previous, or would they flounder with Green at the helm?

Hitting the stage with a triumphant ‘No Remorse, No Regrets’ followed by rare live track ‘As The Storm Unfolds’ proved that DSHS were definitely not worse off with Green fronting the band. Though his screams and singing both sound different to his predecessor, they still work with the music and lyrics left for him to belt out. Musically, DSHS’s synth-laden post metal soundscapes sounded almost as good in the Basement as on record, but that room was never known for having great acoustics. What really shone were the samples of Paul Kitney; haunting at some parts, goosebump-inducing at others. The variety of tracks the southern guys chose to play was a treat for fans too, as they played a mixture of new tracks from Empire Of Light which went down just as well as older tracks including ‘Dawn On The First Day’. Aforementioned brand new track ‘Time’ went down surprisingly well too, considering it was only released on YouTube a mere four days previously. The most hardcore fans may have noticed a few messed up lines during ‘Dawn…’ but for every other track, Paul Green was spot on vocally and the interaction with the crowd between songs was satisfactory. DSHS finished the set with nine and a half minute epic ‘End of Days’ before a return to the stage for a brilliant encore – ‘Hope’.

The question of whether or not Devil Sold His Soul could possibly recover from the exodus of Ed Gibbs was answered perfectly by Paul Green in the closing line of the final song: “I know we’ll be just fine.”

 

Setlist:
1. No Remorse, No Regrets
2. As The Storm Unfolds
3. Time
4. Dawn On The First Day
5. VIII
6. Crusader
7. Tides
8. End Of Days

Encore:
9. Hope.