The Parish in Huddersfield is a venue accustomed to virtually every type of audience imaginable, from a handful of quiet, unresponsive parents at their child’s first gig to several hundred rage fueled youths beating the living daylights out of each other while being accompanied by the raucous noise that is Cancer Bats. The audience on this particularly chilly Thursday night was neither of these, instead it was a photographer, about eight lads in their early twenties, the other bands playing that night, and me. Not exactly the turnout I think anyone was expecting for Cheltenham based melodic Hardcore band Crooks, who are headlining the show tonight.
The first support act of the night are Half Sight, a Leeds based melodic Hardcore band. They start with the barnstorming Strength in Us, which gets little more than small nods of approval from the meagre crowd, however this does not stop them from performing as well as they would to thousands, Vocalist Jordan Widdowson is in his element on stage, but with a musical resume that includes being the former frontman of the hugely popular While She Sleeps, high standards of showmanship are to be expected. Lead single from their as yet untitled first album Picket Lines gets a slightly more promising reaction from those present and despite several songs in their set being remarkably similar to one another, they put on a good show.
As the next support act Autumn Ghost takes to the stage, the first thing I notice is their age. While Half Sight seem to be of a similar age to the ‘crowd’, tack another decade at least on to the age of our next performers. As their diminutive guitarist unveils a metal monster of a guitar, complete with seven strings and a kill switch, I fully expect this to be a bunch of middle aged men breaking out a tirade of repetitive lifeless Djent; how wrong I was.
Their set begins with some unnerving atmospheric music playing from a laptop shoved in the corner of the stage, and then they start playing. And wow did they play. Their sound was a blend of mid ‘00s Metalcore and Alt Metal taking several cues from bands such as Underoath and Killswitch Engage, peppered with Deftones and Tool. While the majority of Brett Pedantic’s vocals sound like they came straight out of Jesse Leach, however the vocal tricks he had up his proverbial sleeve were astonishing, which even included a bit of rapping on the very Nu Metal inspired Revelry. Despite the general lack of audience interaction and showmanship, the tracks Subjects of Violence and Broken Hands showcased a vibrant mix of sounds that make for an interesting listen, clearly other people agree as they were signed to Broken Road Records just last week. While a few things in their repertoire need to stay in 2006 (Inhaled vocals and pinched harmonics are not a thing anymore, are they?) they defy all expectations and preconceptions I had and were thoroughly entertaining.
However the band we are all here to see, sadly just do not measure up to the bands that preceded them. While Crooks are a fantastic band on record, live they do not measure up to their potential. While it must be taken into account that vocalist Josh has been very Ill recently and they have had to cancel a number of shows, their set was just so lacklustre I was quite glad their set was only around six songs. Josh’s vocals simply did not carry and were drowned out by the rest of the band. Although the band themselves played reasonably well, their sound has so much emphasis on the vocals that they simply sound boring if he is not performing at his best. The only real saving grace of the set was closing track A Few Peaceful Days, if the power and emotion in this track had been present in the rest of their short set, it could possibly have been salvaged from the mediocre barrage of sound that it was.