02 March 2016

Gig review – Hacktivist, Counting Days, Enemo-J at The Rainbow, Digbeth 1st March 2016

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Having just driven past an ‘incident’ in Birmingham city center (a
“homeless person” run over and killed, police tent and everything) we
were in need of some positive vibes. Onwards to Birmingham’s best
venue, the Rainbow in Digbeth for tonight’s metal gathering.Hacktivist-Banner

Local lads Enemo-J were ripping things up nicely when I arrived with
their downtuned punchy heaviness going down a treat. Despite a
technical hitch breaking their stride they still kicked arse and
warmed up the assembled punters smartly. I’m not sold on their cover of
House of Pain’s Jump Around and it would be a shame to think that finishing with that track might mean that some will remember Enemo-J as ‘that band who cover Jump Around’ as they are so much more than that.

Main support came from Counting Days, a band featuring members and ex members of Heights, TRC, Last Witness, More Than Life, Prowler, Rough Hands etc. Described as metalcore I enjoyed the brutal sonic assault these Londoners unleashed. The playing was aggressive and tight with my enjoyment higher during their noisier hardcore moments than the more polished metal moments. The vocalist Thomas Debaere steals the show with his shredding roars/screams and rather energetic delivery that the rest of the band would do well to emulate to a greater degree. One thing I wasn’t so sure about what the electronic drop kick drum used in some songs. I LOVE electronic music but their hardcore sound packs enough punch all on its jolly own. Their new album on vinyl seemed to be winking at me from the merch stand though my bank balance said ‘no’ I nonetheless urge anyone with a penchant for solid well written hardcore to consider checking out the freshly released ‘Liberated Sounds’.

On to the hotly anticipated rising metal stars that are Hacktivist and I am sad to say I am starting with a negative comment. I’m all for opening build ups to announce the arrival of the band to the stage, but a whole song AND an atmospheric instrumental build up played through the PA before the band arrived was patience trying. It is a good job that they deliver the goods when they do commence their riffery, though some of their banter was a little cliché
(“Make some fucking noise Birmingham!” Actually we’re the punters, you’re the band, YOU make some fucking noise!). Press had led me to expect Meshuggah style riffing with aggressive hip hop vocals, and this is what they delivered in spades, very well I might add. Think Qemists going metalcore. All of the band were absolutely enjoying
themselves and this is infectious. Their breed of music is rather likable and somewhat unique in that I cannot think of anyone else combining these two styles. At times the songs include more mainstream sung metalcore style choruses, and each to their own, but I much prefer it when the hooks come in the form of rabble rousing angry chants over the frankly obscenely huge riffs.Despite my little niggles (and I am a fussy bastard), the new album will be on my
wish list when it lands at the end of this week.

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