Live Review: Obey The Brave, Malevolence, Napoleon & Kublai Khan – The Underworld, London – 10/04/2015

On an unseasonably warm sunny April evening the vest tops were already out in force as Already Heard headed underground into London’s The Underworld to take in some serious pit action with the US’s Kublai Khan, Brits Napoleon and Malevolence and Canadian headliners Obey The Brave.

Kublai Khan had a tough battle facing them thanks to both the early start time and their relatively unknown status here in the UK. Apart from a few hardcore fans who had come specifically to see the band on their first trip to our shores, the room was sparsely filled. Nevertheless, Kublai Khan encouraged those who were present to encroach upon the stage, which they did, and Kublai Khan gladly absorbed the enthusiasm of those young fans who had made their way down to the front.

Unfortunately Nolan Ashley’s very raspy vocals sounded muffled and his delivery difficult to understand at times, however it suited this band’s sound very well with due to the fast paced, aggressive and heavy feel, and in part to the down tuned guitars and driving chords.

Nolan’s enthusiasm didn’t wane and his crowd soon started to feed off it, as he sought through both the lyrics and his spoken interludes between the songs to get across his message. He was the first to admit that he talks a lot between songs, and although some could have seen as being at the expense of at least one extra song, for others it could be seen as a strong passion for what he believes in. Kublai Khan may have a lot of work to do on this side of the Atlantic, but they have the potential to earn a good reception amongst the UK metalcore scene. (3/5)

Its been two years since we last caught Napoleon live and in that time the band have been on a whirlwind of relentless touring. And this is something they have clearly learnt from, as on this night they put on an engaging performance. Now writing songs specifically for their live show, Napoleon’s opener and new single ‘Stargazer’ is proof that they seem to have got the balance right, the track’s delicate opening bars eventually combusting into the Napoleon we know and like. New vocalist Wes Thompson (ex-Climates), is easier to understand than KK’s Nolan which helps with the enjoyment levels of Napoleon’s set. Undoubtedly the songs that garner the best reaction from the crowd were the more melodic classics such as ‘Brought Here to Suffer’, which sees fans screaming into Wes’ proffered microphone. Like Kublai KhanNapoleon had too faced cotending with a despondent London crowd. But Thompson proved his worth with his relentless determination to get the crowd to the front and circling around the pillar in the centre of the floor by the end of their set. (3.5/5)

It was clear that most people had come to see Malevolence. It’s not at many gigs that the clearing of the floor is a good sign, but the crowd knew that The Underworld was about to errupt. Malevolence put in the most energetic performance both on and off stage of the night, tirelessly cavorting around the stage. For those somewhat unfamiliar with their style of music and fan devotion, this could have been considered rather violent, but the minute it looked like there might be trouble brewing, vocalist Alex stepped in with a gentle reminder of “Are we okay? Remember it’s just a mosh pit!”. Again the vocals were a tad tricky to understand, but the heavy beats, chords and live performance were entrancing. It is bands like Malevolence that make a concert more than just about the music, but about the overall experience.(3.5/5)

From the start one thing is hugely apparent, just how anthemic so many of Obey The Brave songs are. Particularly those from last year’s release ‘Salvation’ such a ‘Raise Your Voice’, during which singer Alex Erian breaks into clean vocals, providing a crowd chant moment, and one from which it is possible to envisage how well Obey The Brave would transfer to a much larger crowd environment. Audience involvement is key to Obey The Brave’s live show, and see’s them recieve a more noticeable response than that for Malevolence, with a greater contingent of fans down the front clambering to get at Erian’s microphone. There is a mutual concern for fans’ safety, as, when one young fan stage dived head first into that aforementioned pillar, Erian kept an eye on him to make sure he was alright until a friend escorted him from the pit.

Obey The Brave’s new additions since we last saw them fit in really well, they look and fulfill their part with gusto, engaging with the crowd and making good use of the stage space, providing good vocal support to Erian, as well as showing strong musicianship. Obey The Brave’s first headline tour has been a successful one, with them offering a high energy, vibrant show that empowered and enthralled their audience. (4/5)

3.5/5

Words and Photos by Heather Fitsell.

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