It’s a pretty safe bet that whenever progressive/technical metal label Basick Records have artists playing a show in Birmingham, I’m going to make an appearance to check out the gig – especially when one of those artists is Uneven Structure, the French djent group that released one of my top ten records of 2011 in the shape of the epic, ambience-tinged Februus (reviewed here). So naturally, as soon as I heard that Uneven Structure were going to be gracing The Actress & Bishop with an appearance alongside technical death metallers No Consequence (who impressed me a couple of years ago during an appearance at Eddie’s Rock Bar), I quickly made arrangements to get myself in front of the stage.
Having arrived too late to see anything much of the opening act, Sentience of Eschaton, the first band whose set I’m able to observe in full is West Midlands-based progressive/groove metal act Broken Torment [3.5/5], who quickly reveal themselves to be a smart addition to the evening’s line-up. Their set balances grinding, down-tuned djent groove and shimmering, chiming melody to impressive effect, with their recently-recruited new vocalist ably demonstrating a range equally suited to soaring croons and guttural roars. The songs themselves show rough edges here and there – occasionally, transitions from passages of lockstep, mechanistic groove to cleaner, more melodic climes aren’t as smooth as they could be – be the band’s impassioned performance and a selection of infectious riffs marks them out as a band with plenty of promise.
Next up were No Consequence [4/5], who wasted no time in reminding the gathered crowd just why we should be excited to hear the Southern England quintet’s forthcoming second album. Working in perfect unison, the tech-death five-piece execute tempo and time-signature changes on the drop of a hat, shifting from quirkily-rhythmic chug-bludgeon to propulsive thrash groove by way of cascading tapped leads without the shifts ever coming across as forced or jarring. The band’s on-stage performance is as assured as the delivery of their music, with each member seemingly effortlessly playing their part while having a lot of fun doing so. By the time No Consequence left the stage, I was more eager than ever to hear what comes next from them.
Finally, it was time for Uneven Structure [5/5] to take the stage. Last time I saw them, it was within the considerably less intimate environs of the O2 Academy 2 during the group’s opening slot on the Lowering The Tone tour (reviewed here). On that evening, the audience’s muted response and my general unfamiliarity with the band served to lessen the band’s impact somewhat – but here at The Actress & Bishop, packed in with a far more appreciative audience and with Februus‘ majesty firmly imprinted on my cerebral cortex, I got the full effect of the Gallic act’s live show. Uneven Structure‘s chief strength lies in their ability to segué with unerring fluidity from passages of Floydian atmospheric ambience that evoke an almost-meditative state to sections of Meshuggah-esque monolithic heaviness that land like tidal waves breaking directly overhead, and that skill was demonstrated again and again throughout the band’s set, as the audience were lulled from contemplative swaying to full-body headbanging on a regular basis. Vocalist Matthieu Romarin was in fine voice, bellowing forcefully while riffs cascaded like rubble from a collapsing building, and singing emotively during gentler passages, and the walls of noise conjured by the three guitarists, the bassist and the drummer kept the audience entranced throughout. A fantastic showing.
Uneven Structure’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unevenstructure
No Consequence’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noconsequenceband
Broken Torment’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brokentormentuk