Review by Jason Guest and photos by Mark Lloyd
Tonight, first up are Klone, a band that have been criminally overlooked on this side of the water. Their recent releases, the EP Eye Of Needle and their latest album, The Dreamer’s Hideaway are both incredible works. Combing alternative metal with jazz, a smidge of avant garde, and a bit of prog, Klone’s music bears as much intelligence as it does force. And so the dirty riffs that underpin their melodic yet dark songs set the evening off to a suitable heavy start. With a bunch of hefty grooves carved into their catchy and aggressive tunes, it didn’t long for the crowd to be won over. Yann Ligner’s vocals are rich, melodic and commanding; to watch Guillaume Bernard and Aldrick Guadagnino’s guitar work is mesmerising, their lines intertwining while Jean Etienne Maillard’s bass lines rumble their hypnotic grooves around Florent Marcadet’s incredible drum lines. What better way, then, to close such a mightily moving set than with a cover of Bjork’s ‘Army Of Me’? An already heavy track, Klone make it even heavier. If you haven’t heard ‘em already, check them out here. You won’t be disappointed.
An altogether dirtier beast, Trepalium‘s groove-laden set is death metal fury wrapped in a concrete boxing glove. Their latest album, H.N.P., combines dynamics, grooves and technical prowess in a style similar to that of the kings of groove metal – and a clear influence on the band’s sound – the mighty Pantera. Dreadlocked Cédric Punda’s voice is demonic, his vocal lines adding more weight to Harun Demiraslan’s and Nicolas Amosse’s dirty riffs and demented chords. With bassist Ludovic Chauveau and drummer Sylvain Bouvier looking after the low end, Trepalium’s sound is colossal. Where Klone’s set leant more toward the melodic side of heaviness, Trepalium go for the grooves and the impact, inflicting death metal menace upon a crowd that, like Klone, are soon converted. Yet even though the band is more than adept in the groove and heaviness department, there are times during the set that their relentless approach to the dynamics of their set loses the crowd and the level plateaus. Where Klone’s balance of melody, might, and progressive elements had enough variation to hold the crowd, Trepalium’s full-on attack didn’t quite hold this crowd as much as it should have. But their set still goes down a storm and like Klone, I suspect that much of this crowd will be checking them out. And if you haven’t heard of ‘em either, you should too, here.
The lights dimmed, chimes sounded, and with the crowd’s rhythmic chants of ‘Gojira! Gojira!’, tonight’s headliners came on stage. And then ‘Explosia’ explodes. Band and crowd are one, the sheer force of the band absorbed by the crowd and thrust back at them through in a room full of hair, heads and horns hammering along to the mighty chug. With ‘Flying Whales’ and ‘Backbone’ the crushing momentum continues until Joe Duplantier commands “Everyone bang your head! This is the ‘Heaviest Matter’!’ And by fuck, is it! The Slade Rooms threaten to collapse under the weight of this track alone. From here on in, Gojira’s set is a titanic tidal wave of city-crushing grooves and technical virtuosity. While the title track of their latest album, L’enfant Sauvage, goes down a storm, ‘Wisdom Comes’ from 2003’s The Link is un-fucking-believably heavy. That’s heavy with a capital “Holy-shit-that’s-heavy”! And just how tight, heavy and ridiculously precise this band is is made that much more apparent with Mario Duplantier’s drum solo. This is nothing like what you’d expect from a drum solo because it’s actually interesting, and, better, captivating!
With ‘The Axe’ and ‘Vacuity’, Gojira leave the stage and a crowd wanting more, and so are treated to a crushing rendition of ‘The Gift Of Guilt’. Gojira’s ability to craft intricate songs that are balanced with weight and intellect is astounding enough on record, but live, they shift it up a notch or ten. The new tracks fit well amongst the older material and demonstrate a band that have always been consistent and have still made leaps and bounds in the development of their sound. When Gojira were here in June (Ed: Chops’s review is here), they played the Academy 2, a venue with about the same capacity as the Slade Rooms. With their music becoming more widely appreciated – and rightly so – this may be the last time we see Gojira in such an intimate venue. This band are set for much bigger things.
There must be something in the water in France (I’ll resist the urge to make a pun about that river). Three fantastic bands and three fantastic sets, should any one of these bands appears on our shores again, make sure you get your tickets well in advance.
Set List: Explosia, Flying Whales, Backbone, The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe, L’Enfant Sauvage, The Art Of Dying, Toxic Garbage Island, Wisdom Comes, Oroborus, Drum Solo, The Axe, Vacuity
Encore: The Gift Of Guilt
And you can see Mark’s shots from the show here: