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The Cardigan Arms, Leeds

(reviewed by MWJ)


Again the scenic (lost) route to find an obscure venue that some of the locals hadn’t even been to before. Upstairs, function room type thing with ornate mirrors and fireplaces to admire while wondering what the bloke on the mic was actually up to. Thought he was a compere introducing the bands but it (very) slowly dawned that he was a "comedian". Well, a variety show then, that’s a novelty. I’d missed half of it but as it was a bit strained, maybe a blessing.

First up were Shadow of Memories, very much from the dark side of metal, but more in a sombre, atmospheric rather than evil way. The drawn out song structures and complex melodies reminded a bit of those other broody Yorkshire folk My Dying Bride. Mellower sections crashing into heavy riffs, with explosive drums that were really striking in their power. All fronted in fine style with their female singer who, despite being new to the band, showed great confidence with her soaring, strong vocals. An interesting twist amongst the many metal sub-cults, good stuff.

Arsing around for an eternity tuning up etc. made me worry (needlessly) for what we were about to receive from Leeds based The Dregs. When they finally kicked into gear it was a high one, fast paced hardcore punk and with a professional polish to their songs. The music bundled along, but the interaction between the main and backing vocals was stand-out, songs such as "believer" and "what’s wrong with you" really having a hook to them. More successful with their between song comedy as well. Threw in an almost obligatory skank for "this is hardcore" (which did turn into hardcore) and gave an all round supercharged show. Invited them over to North Wales so you can see for yourselves.

Playing last when it was one members birthday session made things a bit more chaotic for Flaming Ape’s Head, but still enjoyable. Besides, they’d come over from Liverpool so why not enjoy it? Three-piece playing very angular, jerky, almost dissonant tunes, I think falling into punk or post-hardcore style, not far from the Dead Kennedy’s or Bangor’s much missed Vaffan Coulo. Lyrically they were just as obscure with songs "Mint Rhino" and closer "Pesto", and vocals also chopped and changed between the guitarist and bassist. Pushed a fine line of drunken insanity but all in all a good humoured end to the evening.

Out into 15 feet of pure white snow, well a bit anyway and trekked off for other entertainments of the night… 

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