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Those Once Loyal

With support from Hung Daddy, Omen Machine, I, The Mountain and Sobriquet at Albert’s, Nottingham 1st December 2019.

After braving sub-zero temperatures and making a quick stop off at the bustling Christmas Market outside for food, we arrive at Albert’s in Nottingham for Those Once Loyal’s first hometown headline show. We make our way through the busy downstairs and head on up to collect our press passes, only to find out that our names haven’t been put on the guest list. After sorting out the confusion, we collect our passes and claim a spot just in time to catch the opening act.

The first act of the night is Sheffield post hardcore quintet Sobriquet, who take to the stage with a frenzied energy that bursts forth at the small but growing crowd. This band has a sound that is incredibly difficult to pin down, partly due to how much they draw from a multitude of genres.

The opening track begins with a metal onslaught, with intense anguished screams but yet also features a clean vocal chorus that sounds almost reminiscent of pop-punk. The unique blend of heavy chugs mixed in with uplifting chords and frontman, Ludovico Fahey’s diverse vocals, make for an eclectic and somewhat schizophrenic offering.

The stage performance of the band very much reflects the chosen style, with Ludo writhing and throwing contorted shapes along with maniacally bounding around the stage. Bassist, Michael Chilton, matches this energy almost competitively and throws himself and his bass around the stage with equal charge. The pair also frequently bring the show out into the audience adding extra intensity to the live delivery they have thrown down.

By the third track ‘Epiphany‘ the band are fully in their stride and the crowd has now filled out slightly more. This track takes on a slightly more consistent sound than the previous two and has more of a single feel about it. It makes great use of dynamics during the verses, dropping out the guitars and showing more of Ludo’s vocal range and then progresses its way through to a heavy hitting finish, with some solid double kick work from their drummer.

The band then blast through their latest single ‘Eros‘, which they recently released a music video for, before finishing on a high, with the final track seeing Ludo and Michael push their performance even further, with a stage box being launched off the stage and the bassist climbing the seating of the venue. This deranged and intriguing act will be interesting to follow.

The next band of the night are aggressive metalcore act, I, The Mountain, hailing from Derby. The band are much more consistent in their sound than the nights previous offering, playing solidly from the metal handbook. The sound features technical melodic riffing and hard punchy breakdowns along with some ambient open moments during the choruses.

The set opens with a backing track intro and the band stood motionless with their back to the crowd. The intro goes on for quite a while and features a slowly building ambient soundscape with clean vocals that eventually leads into the first track. As the track starts, the band come to life and burst forth with some solid chuggy riffs and catchy melodies. Vocalist Jordan Thomas paces the front of the stage while the rest of the band throw down around him. The crowd react well to the crunchy breakdowns and there is a good number of heads banging along in the audience. All the material the band are playing tonight is from their debut EP, ‘Saga‘. The next offering is titled ‘The God of a Thousand Eyes‘ and is a solid technical metal core track complete with complex riffs and pounding breakdowns. The track showcases guitarists Josh Kay and Craig Camm’s skills and makes good use of Jordan’s heavier vocals.

The band then play through another track, which features an impressive rapid vocal section, before going into a cover of the 2001 Slipknot classic ‘Left Behind‘. On the whole, the cover is pretty straight, with the musical side of things being more or less along the lines of the original, however, the vocals have been altered to add some variation and to suit the vocalist a little more. This works relatively well, although with the backing being quite a straight cover of a prolific song, your ear expects something closer to the original with regards to the vocal delivery and it loses a little of its impact. Despite this, the cover goes down well with the crowd and there are plenty of heads banging and people singing along. The band then punch their way through another solid slab of melody-soaked metal before plugging their debut EP one last time and departing the stage.

The third band of the line-up is Omen Machine, a Nottingham based alternative metal act. They seem to be an interesting blend of 2000’s influenced rock/metal with the sound ranging anywhere from Disturbed to Rage Against The Machine, whilst at points also touching on metalcore and hardcore.

The stage presence of the band all round is driven and energetic with everyone continually moving and giving it their all throughout the set. Vocalist Matt Nathan commands the stage with his powerful clean vocals while guitarists Oliver Nelson & Callum Parkin throw down each side of the stage in equal measure. Bassist, Ross Walters and drummer, Fred Bettis hold the sound together providing that meaty punchy backing that’s required. Ross’s bass playing throughout is technical and diverse, blending aspects of slap and fingerstyle into his performance. During the set, Matt makes the announcement that it is Callum’s mums’ birthday and they dedicate a track to her. The band thunder their way through a solid metal set list and put their all into their performance, finishing on a high and leaving the audience more than ready for the rest of the night.

The main support of the night is the eccentric Nottingham ‘Thrash and roll’ band Hung Daddy. Mixing classic thrash, metal, rock and stoner in with hilariously relatable lyrics, the band delivers a uniquely fun atmosphere to Albert’s that is completely different to anything else of the night. The band are undoubtedly out of place on tonight’s predominantly metalcore line up but to be fair it’s hard to think of a line-up they’d completely fit on. Regardless of this, the band fully own the moment and the crowd are along for the ride.

The band kick the set open with the catchy ‘See A Doctor‘, which gets the crowd moving around immediately. Vocalist/guitarist Jason Parker entertains and amuses the crowd in-between tracks and has them laughing even when introducing the following song. The second song of the set is ‘Ghosts of Ikea‘, a thrashier offering with an air of late 80/early 90’s metal featuring vocals from other axeman, Phil Sawyer. Things get intense enough to see bassist, Dave Marzec lose his strap and drummer, Jono Pearson knock down a cymbal stand, both righted by the same Omen Machine.

Before the third song of the set, Jason addresses the crowd and gives an insight into the subject matter the band explores, going for relatability above all else, with that they then burst into ‘Food Envy‘, another fast-tempo track with a punchy to the point chorus. Upon announcing the fourth track, ‘Psychic Master‘, the crowd are asked to “show their wizard fingers” followed up by “let me see you sparkle” to which everyone responds without any hesitation. This track has some great twin lead moments with some good interaction on stage between the band.

The penultimate song of the set features the catchy chorus “Why don’t you wash your fucking pots?” that has the audience singing along and also sees the band throwing out dish sponges out into the crowd. They then play through a final track themed around the pain of automated checkouts and incorrect items in the bagging area that features a call and response section that again sees the whole audience get involved. Despite being the odd ones out on this line up, Hung Daddy fully own it, bringing the party with them to Albert’s and getting the crowd properly pumped up for the last band.

The final band of the night are Nottingham’s own Those Once Loyal, playing their first ever headline show. The crowd at Albert’s has now grown to a decent size as they take to the stage and they are met with a supportive response. As the band hammer into their first track ‘Cold Hands‘, vocalist, Matt Smith immediately engages with crowd demanding movement and pushing them to get involved whilst the rest of the band lay down some punchy, groovy melodic riffing. There is great movement from the band, with both guitarists headbanging on either side of the stage as Matt bounds around with an infectious energy. There is a lack of bassist present on stage but the sound is filled out with effects from one of the guitarists. The band then go into their next track ‘One Last Time’, a Trivium-esque offering with a pounding verse, an impressive vocal offering and some solid drumming from stick man, WilliamSquidKilminster.

The band have a heavy metalcore sound, full of melody drenched riffage and meaty chugging accompanied by Matt’s heavier hardcore style vocals. They sound like the bastard child of Hatebreed and Killswitch Engage, the latter of which is an obvious influence on the music, especially given the third track of the set is a cover of the quintessential track, ‘My Last Serenade‘. The band play through the track solidly, with guitarists Oscar Gutkowski and Alex Tsang both providing backing vocals during the huge chorus. The crowd join in with the band on the chorus and the cover is well received and well pulled off. By this point Albert’s is now lively and bouncing.

The fourth track of the set is ‘Between the Line‘, accompanied by demands from Matt for a circle pit to open up, which it does, immediately. Later in the track Mat jumps into the crowd and joins them. The pit lasts the majority of the song and the energy of the crowd is still high after four previous bands.

The next song of the set is a new track titled ‘Before the Tide Comes Near’, written by Alex. This track is heavy and technical and makes use of darker sounding melody lines. It’s worth noting that at points this track sounds more Killswitch than the actual cover. With the whole crowd headbanging, this track hits a big finish with some impressive double kick work from Squid. Following this, the band go into a rendition of ‘The Ghost Inside‘ track, Engine 45, which most of the audience clearly know from the amount of people singing along.

Following this, the band hit into their seventh track of the set, ‘Rebirth‘, a pummeling offering with some awesome breakdowns that showcase Matt’s lower heavier vocals. They then end the set on their debut single, ‘Carry You‘ which they released back in August. This track is a solid track to end on, with a more hardcore feel to elements of it and a huge emotion driven chorus with a memorable guitar hook. The song features some ambient moments with some soaring lead guitar. In contrast, the track also features some crushing heavier section that are slightly reminiscent of Mastodon. The audience here know the words to the chorus of this track and sing along with Matt as he encourages them on. The set finishes on a high with the audience and the band now exhausted after giving everything during the set. The band exit the stage to claps and cheers and the night draws to a close

We exit the venue, leaving the warmth of Albert’s and head back out into the icy cold and the now closing Christmas Market. Tonight’s offering was an eclectic one at times, but a solidly enjoyable one nonetheless and a showcase of the talent the Nottingham scene has to offer. With the night at a close, we jump back on the tram and start our journey back home.

To see more photographs from the night, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr.

Review by Jamie Barker with Photography by Klare Sherwood