EP Review: ‘The Pale’ – William Control

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A couple of years have passed since the last time we received any new musical offerings from the king of all things dark and sadistic, but William Control’s just-released EP The Pale certainly lives up to our high expectations. This four track companion to our iniquity is the first in a series of four EPs (Pale, Black, Red and White) known collectively as ‘Revelations’, which continue the narrative laid down in his previous releases.

Fans will be pleased to hear that the record most definitely has the William Control sound to it, like an 80s synth-fest crashed into a darkwave sex dungeon. Opening track The Monster is a passion filled injection of adrenaline to the veins which is bound to captivate listeners, with a chorus which defies even the most resistant of scream-along-ers. This creates a pleasing contrast with next track Confess, a song with a more sensual feel to it and a hypnotic rhythm to the chorus. When The Love Is Pain has the token few seconds of moaning women in the background which no Control record is complete without. It’s the song most reminiscent of his earlier work, even including a few familiar tune elements and lyrics (he’s definitely been trying to get us to “dance with me” since 2010 and the addition of “forever” on the end gives it a noticeably similar tune to Adore’s “fall in love forever”) but he pulls this off surprisingly well, managing to give the song something of a nostalgic-yet-modern feel. Our grand finale, Mother Superior, is not the most instantly attention-grabbing song of the EP, but succeeds in being the most impassioned and emotive, the one you can feel pulling at your blackened heartstrings and soothing your soul as you sing along.

After listening to this impressive first instalment of ‘Revelations’ we’re eager to hear what the next three EPs will bring. For now, if you want to purchase The Pale it is available to download on itunes or as a physical copy on controlmerch.com.

Score: 8/10

Listen to: Mother Superior

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Gig Review: William Control / As Sirens Fall / Orpheum – The Crowndale, London, 16/09/2016

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[Photo credit: Donna Coombs]

The penultimate night of William Control’s UK tour sees him return to London, after having already played here a week ago in Club Antichrist. Due to doors opening 40 minutes late everyone is a little cold and miserable once they finally make it inside, but local band Orpheum certainly manage to liven them up again. Despite only receiving a lukewarm welcome upon beginning their set, their female-fronted operatic metal soon catches the attention of the crowd, with those who were reluctant to clap along at the beginning cheering them by the end. Unfortunately the vocals are often drowned out a little by the music, a sound problem rather than anything to do with the band themselves, yet they deal with this as well as they can, putting more power into the vocals and managing to give everyone a set which is certainly worth turning up early for.

[Photo credit: Donna Coombs]

Following this are As Sirens Fall, a five-piece alternative band all the way from Leeds, who are filling the support slot for a number of dates on this tour. Their set is instantly a hit with the crowd, a fair number of whom appear to already be fans. Most of the songs performed are from their recently released EP The Hospital Party, all of which are appreciated by the audience. Singer Mikey’s vocals vary from clean melodic tones to unexpected harsher notes for an excellent effect, whilst the driving drum beat and catchy melody hook the audience. They are clearly passionate about their performance but do not seem overly serious, giving the impression that they are genuinely enjoying being on stage. Their fun spirit filters into the crowd, who are allowed to name (temporarily, at least) one of the two new, unreleased songs they perform. They decide to go with the questionable choice of naming it ‘Pontins’, with the band remarking that it will always be named that in their hearts from now on, though not in their album. It seems certain that any of the crowd who hadn’t heard of As Sirens Fall before tonight will surely want to now.

[Photo credit: Donna Coombs]

In the short gap before the final set, the crowd soon fills out considerably. After the rest of the band enter the stage William emerges, like a true goth frontman clothed all in black – black shirt, black trousers, black jacket, even black sunglasses – and a cheer goes up throughout the room. They open with the song everyone has surely been most excited to hear tonight, recently released single ‘The Monster’. This immediately gets everyone moving. Some technical difficulties occur straight away, the microphone producing some rather odd sounds or sometimes no sound at all, but these soon improve after Ashestoangels frontman Crilly – who’s accompanying William on this tour despite not playing – dashes across the stage to sort things out. However even William notes that the technical difficulties are doing nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. A few other new songs from upcoming The Pale EP get aired, such as ‘Confess’ and ‘Mother Superior’ which receive enthusiastic approval from the crowd, but there’s also many of the old favourites, including ‘Kiss Me Judas’, ‘Beautiful Loser’ and ‘Passengers’. As always, William often encourages the crowd to “Scream for me!”, a command which they do, of course, obey, with growing fervour. He even jumps in the crowd himself for a while to raise excitement levels even further. Ultimately, despite a decent length set list, the show feels all too short as he comes to his two final songs. The disappointment is lessened, however, with the announcement that he’ll be back touring the UK again in March next year. ‘Razors Edge’ and ‘I’m Only Human Sometimes’ conclude the night, sending the audience into one final frenzy.

Check out the latest William Control single ‘The Monster’ below. The Pale EP is being released on 16th October but is available to preorder now on iTunes and controlmerch.com.

EP Review: As Sirens Fall – ‘The Hospital Party’

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It’s always satisfying when a record has a name which seems to perfectly encapsulate its sound; As Sirens Fall’s recently released The Hospital Party does just that, with its lively yet atmospheric and emotional feel. The five track EP mixes the energetic sound of bands such as Sleeping With Sirens and Kids In Glass Houses with the passionate riffs and occasional rough edged vocals of an early My Chemical Romance. It sounds almost like the long lost – less whiny – nephew of the emo scene, come back to give it some life. Where You Are and Smoke have that frantically-jump-around-punching-the-air feel to their choruses which will not only stay in your head for days but would certainly go down well in a live show. State Of The Artist best exemplifies their mixture of sounds, a song which could easily be imagined blaring out of bedroom stereos with legions of devoted fans headbanging along. The heaviness at the end of this song provides a pleasing contrast to the mellower elements of Lonely Tomorrows and Last Goodbyes, proving them capable of introducing plenty of variation within just five songs. If you like the alternative rock genre you’ll find it very difficult to dislike this EP. It proves that this is just the beginning of great things to come for As Sirens Fall. Check out the recently released music video for Where You Are below and catch them on tour with William Control next month.

Score: 7.5/10

Listen to: Where You Are and State Of The Artist

Behind the Scenes: The Skeleton Strings Tour (William Control & Crilly Ashes)

As I was offered the opportunity to go on the Skeleton Strings tour as merch seller, travelling with William (Control) and Crilly (Ashes), this seemed an excellent chance to give a more behind the scenes look at a tour. I’m going to start with a warning: it’s not as exciting as you think, I spent a lot of time on my phone travelling in a van. In tour-diary style fashion, here’s a summary of the entire five dates of the Skeleton Strings acoustic tour.

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Tour begins in Newcastle. Prior to the first VIP meeting we encounter the first instance of no-one having a clue where William is – he’s surprisingly good at disappearing. He does however reappear on time after an unidentified knocking sound turns out to be him trapped behind a door no one had noticed. During the show he goes backstage to decide the contents of his set list; I’m already getting the impression things don’t tend to be too planned out. On stage Zac from One Way Street kicks off the show, beginning with a few nervous jokes but soon relaxing as he sees the crowd warm to his set. Second are Strange Creatures, a band whose electric set I wasn’t too keen on last time I saw them, but who pleasantly surprised me with their acoustic set. Crilly soon takes the stage, rather merry after a few malibu and cokes (yep, he drinks that), and puts on an entertaining set of his own songs and covers. This is the first night that the crowd are encouraged to make the now infamous pirate noises along to recent single Down We Go. William soon enters the stage, carrying with him his guitar branded with the words “this machine kills sadness” which he notes is a phrase adapted for his own purposes from Woody Guthrie’s 1941 message “this machine kills fascists” written on his own guitar. His set includes a number of his own songs such as Cemetery, Noir and Soliloquy as well as covers including New Order and Morrissey, and there’s even an acoustic version of a track from his upcoming album. The whole night goes down well. After the show William leaves for the hotel and a few of us head off for some drinks in Gotham Town. This includes a rather worse for wear Crilly who thinks it’s a good idea to start spontaneously playing the piano in Newcastle station, and who ends up with straws in his hair multiple times during the night.

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[Photo credit: Kate Rattray]

The next morning there is definitely hangovers in the air. Crilly introduces me to his ‘medicinal’ hangover cure in the form of a Starbucks triple espresso over ice. This turns out to be everyone’s drink of choice on tour, and it certainly does the job of replenishing energy levels, unfortunate side effects are the potent taste, heart palpitations and shakes. Newcastle to London is a long journey, mostly consisting of idly sitting around checking Facebook whilst Crilly has a nap in the back of the van. We do get treated to a few plays of the new William Control album, which certainly livens the atmosphere up. Upon reaching the venue it is instantly apparent that the room is nowhere near big enough to comfortably fit the amount of people who have bought tickets, never mind squeezing in a merch table and PA system too. Crilly needs to find somewhere more spacious to do his horror cult meet and greet, and decides upon a particularly appropriate goth location: a nearby graveyard. As the show begins it is decided that everyone should sit down to have any chance of a decent view. Loveless take the opening slot, filling in for 48 Hours who are delayed on their way to the venue. They put on a decent performance of their own songs with an AFI cover thrown in, though nerves may have affected the vocals a little. 48 Hours do eventually show up and take the second slot, and do put on an enjoyable acoustic performance, including a cover of Truly Madly Deeply joined by Crilly. The majority of Crilly’s own set sees a crowd member having to fan him whilst he plays, as the humidity increases along with the number of people. This certainly doesn’t put anyone off being lively though, with the crowd providing spontaneous backing vocals to tracks such as Ghost In The Machine and being the most enthusiastic pirate-noise-makers of the whole tour. This enthusiasm isn’t dampened during William’s set, where they sing along to practically every song, getting especially loud during Aiden tracks Moment and Silent Eyes, his cover of The Smiths’ There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and his own London Town. Once the show is over a few of us head off for some more drinks at Underworld where Kier Kemp is DJ-ing. Crilly manages to match his own drunkenness levels from the night before, developing an interest in changing the various lighting effects on the dancefloor and proving himself not the best lighting technician. We end up getting back to the hotel at gone 4am once more, armed with food from a 24 hour Subway yet having had to spend an extortionate amount on a taxi because our beloved Uber app did not seem to be working.

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[Photo credit: Sammy Lilley]

The next morning sees hangover 2.0, and we are grateful for a little time to relax in the hotel garden. Crilly reveals a major perk to taking merch on tour; you always have clean clothes. His opinion is that all you really need to take on tour from your own things are new socks and a toothbrush, a highly debatable statement. We find our hotel and enjoy a much needed nap in our rooms before we’re off again, this time to Santiagos in Leeds, another venue which is always cramped and sweaty but seems almost airy compared to yesterday. William disappears once more after VIP as the show begins, noting only that he’s going “to nap”. He definitely never recovered from the jet lag. First on stage is Jason from Kill The Silence, putting on a good acoustic set which ends on the forever dodgy song choice of covering Wonderwall. He just about pulled that one off. Next are As Sirens Fall, whose extremely enjoyable acoustic set includes some of their impressive new material from recently released album The Hospital Party. The crowd are lively again throughout Crilly and William’s sets, probably being the most proficient mass hecklers of the tour, especially when urging William to play other songs during his set. One request even asks for him to play Justin Bieber, probably the point when you know the heckling is going a little far. There’s a reprieve from the nights out after this show, and we return to our hotel in Bradford with the firm intention of finding a good pizza. This we manage more successfully than expected, who knew Bradford did such good pizza?

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[Photo credit: Kate Rattray]

Before we set off to Manchester the next day we pop into Primark, which feels far too ordinary when accompanied by a man commonly referred to as “the gothfather”. The van journey is a short but productive one, where general conversation leads to a decision to live stream William’s set tonight, and also to have Crilly join him for a performance of Love Will Tear Us Apart, a song which Crilly may or may not have learned how to play on that very journey. We reach Satans Hollow far too early to set anything up, so end up going on a hunt around Manchester for somewhere that serves a decent cooked breakfast. Back at the venue the weather is deteriorating, and as we approach opening time the heavens open and people begin to huddle in the entrance for some hope of shelter. No one hangs around once doors are open, and inside the show kicks off with local bands Without Andrew and Don’t Stop! Go!, both putting on excellent acoustic performances. Crilly and William both get an enthusiastic reception to their sets, especially their joint cover. William’s performance of his b-side track Heaven also seems popular. We had earlier been invited out to a club night to see a drag queen named Acid Betty, so once the show is over some of us go off to this. Meeting her was fun, if expensive, and lots more drunkenness and horrendous dancing ensues. A possible alcohol-induced lack of common sense may be to blame for the fact that neither Crilly nor I realised we had been given the wrong room when we arrived at the hotel. The fact that neither of the room keys initially worked, coupled with the tiny, hot, windowless room which only provided one towel didn’t seem to indicate anything strange to us until the next morning. On closer inspection what we thought was a three at the start of the room number was actually a badly written five. Handwriting really does matter kids.

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[Photo credit: Leanne Haywood]

The final tour date is in Cannock. On the journey there William and Crilly look over the comments and reactions from the live stream and seem happy with what people thought about it. We find another Wetherspoons upon our arrival, William doesn’t join us but asks for a plate of sausages to be brought back for him, a request which gets poor Crilly some odd looks from the bar staff. As it’s the final night of tour we decide to do a mega merch sale in the hope that William won’t have quite so many bags to carry at the airport. As the VIP begins, an unfortunate mix up at the door means all the non-VIPs get let in too, leaving them having to linger around in the hallways for a good while. The show has no support acts tonight, and Crilly admits it’s odd being the opener. The crowd are definitely the quietest of the tour, but he still manages to draw some pirate noises out of them. He even does a performance of Pirouette, a song which he was adamant he’d finally avoid playing on a tour. Tonight sees a lone rather drunk heckler, but after learning that it’s his 18th birthday today Crilly stops in the middle of his set to buy the guy a drink. William is not quite so generous and jokingly tells him off during his set, making him sit at the side of the stage. The crowd are still a little quiet, but certainly enjoy his performance. Some odd noises during one song cause Crilly to have to run around on stage behind him as he continues playing to try to resolve the problem. He ends, as he has done every night, with the fan favourite London Town. After the show William says his final goodbyes and heads off to Manchester for his airport trip. Crilly and I head off to stay with As Sirens Fall, whose tour he now joins as their driver. The man literally never rests. On the journey there comes the realisation that the tour is now officially over, and though this is sad the past few days have been a lot of fun. I’m hugely looking forward to William’s next tour, which we thankfully only have to wait until September for!

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[Photo credit: Leanne Haywood]

Gig Review: TrueHeights – Leeds, 03/07/2016

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TrueHeights end their run of headline shows tonight in Bad Apples rock bar in Leeds. The room is small, cramped and humid, but these features certainly give it atmosphere. Three local acts kick off the show; solo artist Ben Bickley, alternative indie band Pacific Blue, and indie rock group Purple Thread all do a decent job of preparing the room for the main bands. Nineteen Fifty Eight have joined TrueHeights for this whole tour, and it is clear to see that their styles of music fit well together. Their female fronted alternative rock is appealing, catchy and well mixed. Mention of their EP turning a year old today gains some interest, and they seem comfortable playing and talking to the crowd. They definitely make more of an impression than expected.
After a meticulous set up to ensure the mixing is perfect, melodic rock band TrueHeights begin their dramatic performance. The room is instantly awash with energy and enthusiasm in a way that few bands can manage in such a small venue. Songs such as Don’t Look Down, Stay and Frank get fans singing, clapping and jumping along, and Zakk’s singing is excellent despite him feeling under the weather. Each member of the band puts on their own spectacular performance, full of passion and vigour which is highlighted with striking lighting. Near the end the rest of the band get the audience to join them in singing happy birthday to Zakk, who turns 24 today. It is easy to see how well they all get on with each other. TrueHeights consistently create an amazing live atmosphere, through both their music and performance. They suit being a headline band, they shine on stage, and they are certainly deserving of a much bigger stage and a much bigger crowd. We highly recommend seeing them live, check out their latest release below.

Gig Review: Cabin Boy Jumped Ship / On Hollow Ground / Far From History / Beyond Recall – London, 17/06/2016

Tonight is the first date of Cabin Boy Jumped Ship’s ‘Pathways’ tour, beginning at Underworld in Camden, London. This accompanies the recent release of the EP of the same name earlier this month, which has received a positive response from fans.


Opening the night are Bristol band Beyond Recall, an alternative nu-metal group full of energy and enthusiasm. Their mixture of rapping and catchy choruses upon a heavy background easily grabs the attention of the crowd. Despite being the opening band they are not afraid to go all out, with lead singer Zaid leaping off stage into the crowd to sing, dance, and play a blow up guitar. Most of the tracks performed are their own, but they also throw in a cover of Flo Rida’s Low. They seem like a band who are passionate about their music but still like to have fun and enjoy themselves on stage. These fun vibes rub off on the crowd – one of whom hands Zaid a flower garland which he eagerly wears around his neck – and see the room liven up.


Following this are metalcore band Far From History from Herts and Essex. This is a group who seem confident on stage, bringing with them lots of stage presence and visible passion in their performance. They are energetic, moving around the room constantly, jumping up and looming over the crowd, dramatically falling to the ground. Songs such as Blinded and Dreamcatcher receive a positive reception from the audience, and their overall performance serves as another good warm up for the main acts, livening the room up further.


Main support On Hollow Ground are joining CBJS for the whole run of shows on this tour. They have a technical metalcore style which goes down well, and their performance is definitely added to by some impressive use of strobed lighting which – especially when accompanying them headbanging in unison – makes for a more visually appealing and striking performance. They perform older and newer tracks, including Substance and Long Gone. Upcoming track No Imperfections is given an outing, with a special guest appearance from Conor Peek of CBJS. They also cover Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff, jokingly assuring everyone that they’ll therefore like at least one song of the set. The only small issue is that the clean vocals can occasionally sound a little shouty, as if straining to be heard, but the performance is still impressive. They have surely gained a number of new fans tonight.


After a few changes on stage, such as bringing on their own banners to really make it feel like their own, Cabin Boy Jumped Ship make their appearance. Their stage outfits and painted faces give them both a sense of unity and an appealing dark presence which goes well with their electronicore style music. The crowd are clearly excited from the moment they enter the stage, screaming along to both old and new tracks. Recent singles Replace The Hate and The New World Order go down well, along with Waste Away also from the most recent EP. Older tracks such as Eyes Wide and Sleep Deprived also cause a lot of excitement though, and it is obvious there are some dedicated fans here.

The only unfortunate downside to their performance is an overuse of backing track. It is expected to be used during intros, interludes, and the background to songs, but it quickly becomes obvious that even main vocal lines are played on backing track rather than completely live. The actual clean singing is barely audible through the microphones, something which must be improved upon in future to give fans the full live show feeling. Despite this, it still sounds good overall, and what was being played live was done well. The intensity and animation in their performance make for a good show, and they manage to get the crowd moving and moshing. As they end the night there comes a chant for “one more song”, a request which they carry out, seeming to leave the crowd ultimately satisfied.

 

Words: Gabriella Williams

Photographs: Sarah Mckellar

Gig Review: IAMX – Manchester, 15/06/2016

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The Gorilla venue in Manchester is packed full of people tonight, all eagerly anticipating the first of three UK shows on successive days by experimental electronic project IAMX. Despite the unusual phenomenon of there being no support acts to warm the crowd up, there is nevertheless a distinct feeling of excitement filtering through the room. The smoky air makes the four illuminated letters above the stage spelling out ‘IAMX’ vividly stand out, a nice atmospheric touch even before the show has begun.
Chris Corner enters the stage, hooded, clad all in black, his face sparkling, getting an instant cheer from the crowd. He is accompanied on stage by Sammi Doll (keys/back-up vocals) and Janine Gezang (keys/bass/back-up vocals), both dressed in figure hugging lace body suits and theatrical make up. All three visibly put their all into the performance, delivering a sweaty, sexy, passionate, theatrical show. Their excellent set showcases many songs from 2015 album Metanoia, including Insomnia, Happiness, No Maker Made Me and North Star. Alongside these a few older well-loved tracks such as Spit It Out are performed. These are vocally impressive, and certainly get the crowd immersed in the music. Though this is definitely a show which is as much about the visual performance as the music. Strobed and coloured lighting along with four screens displaying visual effects add drama to a performance which already brings plenty of its own. Chris moves around the stage a lot, whilst Sammi and Janine are extremely lively, constantly jumping up and down. All interact with the crowd and encourage them in their ever increasing fervour. It’s certainly not a performance which can be forgotten in a hurry. By the time we near the end, even after an encore which sees the night ending with an impressive rendition of I Am Terrified, the show feels all too short. Seeing IAMX live is highly recommended. Their next UK show is in London in October.