While the nation was sitting home and numbing their brains with the banal Brit Awards a far more interesting event was occurring at The Craufurd Arms. The Kerrang! Radio Fresh Blood Tour brings three exciting bands to town and opening act Terra IV get things off to an explosive start. With a twin vocal attack, the band proceed to deliver a set that’s the equivalent of a musical bomb…and you get the feeling it could detonate at any moment. Largely eschewing solos in favour of riffs the guitarist delivers some sublime nu-metal sounds and the drummer’s punishing beat is the glue which holds everything together. It all adds up to a maelstrom which marks this quartet as ones to watch.
There’s something about the Midlands that keeps producing heavy bands of all different stripes and the latest to hit my radar are the Last Hounds. Although the band have been bubbling away for almost a decade things really went into overdrive with the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Burden. Like a tornado passing through the venue Last Hounds arrive, launch into ‘Handmade’ and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Famed for their energetic live shows the band have set an almost impossible standard but it’s one they enjoy attaining as their vocalist forsakes the stage to sing from the floor which really puts the cat amongst the pigeons. The band lock in tightly which gives tracks such as ‘Bleed’ and ‘Slow Burn’ added punch and a strong focus on melody ensures these songs swing with an inherent groove. The one-two punch of ‘Snakeskin’ and ‘Balaclava’ makes for a frantic finale meaning Last Hounds won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
In terms of vigorous live sets, it seems that Last Hounds have raised the bar to an unattainable level, but London’s PENGSHUi rise to the challenge, and it only takes one song until a pit erupts: it’s that kind of music. PENGSHUi are a three piece (bass, drums, vocals) who sound much bigger than their constituent parts and tonight they fill the venue with their earth-shaking rumble. With songs such as ‘Light Up The Sky’, Wiseman’ and ‘Nobody Cares’ in their arsenal they really can’t go wrong, especially when delivered with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Very little time is wasted on between song banter which only adds to the overall feeling of urgency and this trio deliver a succession of songs that go straight to your memory bank (and via your jugular). Ever since the live embargo has been lifted people have seemed a little cautious and socially distanced at gigs, as if unsure of the new etiquette, but PENGSHUi’s sound shatters that reserve and have all but the frail and infirm swirling in a circle pit. Catchy as can be and heavy as hell if PENGSHUi don’t rock your boat then nothing will.
- Reviewed by Peter Dennis.