Set In Tears + Play With Fire + You Me And The Atom Bomb + New Age Process - The Wedge - November 2005
Set In Tears have a lot of pent-up aggression and they channel it into their music. The result is a sound that is as approachable as an enraged pit-bull – snarling savagery, straining at the leash. The music itself takes all the most evil and harsh elements of thrash, death and beat-down hardcore, throwing them together into a chaotic mass of battering-ram riffs which rely more on ferocity than melody. The vocals are screamed or howled, the lead lines are discordant and the drums clatter like an (occasionally off-time) avalanche. Sadly the sound is sludgy, making the details hard to discern, and the limits of their skills are tested more than a few times. They need to polish the playing and tone down the brutality to earn higher profile slots in future. Play With Fire provide a big increase in listenability. The rhythm section is precise, with some groove to the pacey tempos. The songs boast heavy, melodic riffs; firm if not very memorable or unique. The guitar work is brisk, with little tricks like harmonic lead lines and the occasional twiddly fill. Where they really shine is in stage presence and vocal performance. There is a certain amount of screamy-shouty action, but the actual singing is very bold; note perfect over a wide range with the backing vocals locked right on. Very confident onstage, but the songs lack the killer hooks that a band needs to rise to the next level. Hooks are something that third act You Me And The Atom Bomb understand very well, however. A black clad three-piece, they belt out a palatable punk rock that seems to mix one part classic Brit-rock and one part New York Hardcore, circa the late 90s. The rhythms are very technical, backed up by high velocity percussion. There are lots of little pauses and dropouts that make you think they’ve either stopped the song or got lost, only to catch you on the hop by crashing back in at just the right moment. Technicality aside, there are melodies that stick in the head, boosted by strong, catchy vocals. It’s brash and punchy and somehow bright – compared to the rest of the line up they almost sound like a pop band. But that doesn’t seem to disappoint the audience one bit and rightly so; they knock the other acts into a cocked hat. Which leaves New Age Process to deliver a set of belligerent cacophony. They are very accurate; essential with this sort of high-speed nastiness. The songs have complex structures, lots of technical passages that the band pull off with ease. There's plenty of onstage motion. Unfortunately the singer, who cheerfully admits to being ‘fucking drunk’, seems to think that lambasting his band mates and the audience will make him seem more ‘rock and roll’. His in-song screaming fits the bill but the constant stream of profanity and invective between songs does the band no favours. Despite a solid set of drop-forged anger, the only thing that sticks in the mind is the singer’s constant overuse of the word 'cunt'. By the end of their set the audience has dwindled to half its size, which is more telling than another hundred words could be. It may impress their mates, but Joe Public may not get the joke. If there is one.