The Villains and Vigilantes Tour @ Academy 3, Birmingham – 7 October 2012

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Review by Jason Guest and photos by Samantha Knight

What sick motherfuckers would write the lyric, “What sick motherfucker would invent a man?”? Antlered Man, that’s who. An entity unto themselves, from the psychopathic calm of whispered vocals to the catchy melodies that pervade their verses as much as their curious choruses, from the incessant rhythms and fuzzy bass lines to the cartoonish guitar lines and whimsical whistles, Antlered Man present an unhealthy dose of inspired insanity. Live and on record, Antlered Man is a band that has a unique identity. Yep, “unique” gets thrown about quite a bit when it comes to those that have just delivered their debut, but Antlered Man’s lyrical intelligence and musical eccentricity is worth giving your time to. Next time they’re in town, check them out. In the meantime, give them a listen and buy their album, Giftes 1&2.

We Are Knuckledragger were a surprise and a curious choice for a support act to Meshuggah in April (Ed: see Jason’s review of that show here). Their dissonant syncopation and displaced discordance means that, like Antlered Man, WAKD offer something that’s equally imitable and unique. Their combined sound is chaos barely controlled and recklessly contained. WAKD’s unorthodox approach sees them twist the heavy chords and mashed melodies of the guitar into the rhythm while the bass and drums come to provide the mangled melodies, all the while the anguished screams and manic rants delivering the final blow to any semblance of what’s considered normal. To see them pull all this lunacy off live is astounding. Like Mike Patton’s Fantomas, the crafted capriciousness of WAKD’s music is something that needs your attention and is more than worth it.

After two bands that have taken the rule book and smashed it to pieces, Romans’ straight ahead approach at first appears a little sanitary, at least by comparison with the previous two bands. It can’t be denied that they pack a mighty punch wrapped in melody and pop sensibilities that, though perhaps a little too predictable, are moving. With catchy choruses and merry melodies aplenty in their vocal and guitar lines, Romans give their all to tonight’s set. Impressive as it is, WAKD and Antlered Man have made a lasting impression on tonight’s diminutive crowd and it’s mainly those that specifically came for Romans that lead the applause. Less awkward and more palatable than the other two acts, Romans would have perhaps suited a bill that was more suited to their style. But musical diversity never hurt anyone, did it?

And you can see more of Samantha’s shots from the show here: