Live Review: Sulpher [The Underworld, London] September 28, 2012

What entices a magazine based in Yorkshire, to make the long arduous trip down south these days? One of many answers that you weren’t expecting is this: a good ‘n’ […]

What entices a magazine based in Yorkshire, to make the long arduous trip down south these days? One of many answers that you weren’t expecting is this: a good ‘n’ proper industrial gig. Of course, long-time followers of our thing will remember a simpler time, around 2008 when this writer (editor, Dom) was less obsessed with his hair and commercially accessible indie sounds, and more interested in hard rock and err…wearing leather. Anyway, that’s the time we’re all going to remember for this review, because we are going back to our roots. It’s hard. It’s heavy. It’s loud, and we love it.

What we do not love, however, is navigating London. London is silly ‘n’ that. Long story short, we miss EBM-baiting openers Je$us Loves Amerika (at 6pm!). Fortunately, we’ve seen the Glasgow-based band before as part of t’Incineratour (also featuring Digicore and Concrete Lung) that we worked with premier UK industrial label Armalyte for last year. So yeah, it’s good we’ve seen them. They’re worth your time. Check out the video below.

Yorkshire fellows Officers are up next, and we manage to arrive only slightly after they begin. Cracking out some of their (now) established tunes including ‘Co-Education’ and ‘Mosquito’ to the delight of a developing crowd, the five piece peddle dark and brooding electronic rock (think Death In Vegas smashing up a stage with Placebo and and Depeche Mode) that is vastly different to the intense and furious metal of the forthcoming acts, and the angst-ridden EBM of JLA, but it still incredibly well-received. With slots supporting Gary Numan (which spawned a collaborative track called ‘Petals) and at world-renowned goth fest M’era Luna in the bag, it will be interesting to see if this band continue down their “dark” path to success, or take a more accessible root? Time will tell, as they say…or, as we’re saying right now.

Jayce Lewis is our real surprise of the evening. We’ve heard good things about this guy (and his band). We’ve interviewed him too, a while back (we should really sort something recent out…). He’s big in India and has made quite a reputation sharing stages on tours over here with Combichrist and Gary Numan (man, that dude gets everywhere). Sonically, the sound is a little bit Fear Factory and a tiny bit…something else that’s freakin’ awesome. Jayce’s unit does melodic industrial metal music very well (maybe better than anyone else on the scene right now?), and it shows; he has the biggest crowd of the night, without question. Tracks like ‘Icon’ are totally anthemic, and completely addictive. If this Welsh multi-instrumentalist is already headlining big-time stages in other parts of this world, we know that it’s only a matter of time before he’s doing national tours of his own around ‘ere. Good on you, lad.

Now, the last time we saw Rob Holliday’s Sulpher it was in Manchester. It was angry, and it was sweaty, and loud. Tonight, it really is more of the same. Conspicuous by its absence from the set is the more melodic new track ‘Threw It All Away’, instead, the band (made up of former Jesus And Mary Chain and Pop Will Eat Itself members Steve Monti and Tim Muddiman, along with new recruit Andy Spillane) opt to play predominantly old material from 2001’s ‘Spray’ (our standout is ‘Problem’, alongside the one new offering ‘No One Will Ever Know’). Of course, for the long-time Sulpher fans in attendance, this is ideal, but the new (and more melodic) material like ‘Nothing At All’ comes across very well, and dare we say it, is (in our eyes) stronger than some of the older stuff! We were promised more melodic material from Rob in a recent interview, and we want to see and hear it! Other than that, we get what we came for; fast, aggressive and strong industrial-tinged metal that follows the well-established blueprint of Ministry and early Nine Inch Nails. There’s a real energy and excitement behind Sulpher’s return in 2012, and we hope that continues on for the new record. Indeed, that buzz translates well to the other bands on this bill; the Underworld is the perfect venue for these heavy-as-all-hell sounds. By the end, we do feel like we’ve been to one of the most (if not the most) important industrial music shows in the UK for the last decade. Ace!

Words: Dom Smith / Images: Jonathan Sillence (for Soundsphere magazine, 2012)

About Editor

Editor