Southampton University’s annual day-long festival for all things rock and metal couldn’t have started better. For once, the weather in Hampshire was pleasantly warm and dazzlingly bright on the eyes – thus seeming to haveput everyone in higher spirits. There was a significant lack of queuing, and there had been no catastrophic errors in judgement that affected everybody at the festival thus far. So as far as UK festivals go, Takedown 2014 is doing very well even prior to all its 5 stages being swarmed with over 40 bands and thousands of potentially drunk attendees.
The line-up was pretty stacked and versatile, with consistent dealings of heavy metal, punk, post-hardcore, rock and roll and tech metal coming from all corners of the campus. To say everyone was spoiled for choice would be an understatement. Plus the booze came cheap (it is held in a Students’ Union after all!), and the merch stands came packed with some pretty awesome looking attire. Needless to say the vibe for the festival is once again pretty good – where as long as you had a beer in your hand you’d be set for a good experience.
First to grace the Jagermeister stage was the post-hardcore group Verses, who recently came off a brilliant 2013, releasing their EP Come To Life and are poised to release their debut full-length later this year. Verses began in good fashion with a nicely composed setlist that blended together brilliantly, and remained consistent in flow, supported by a brilliant mix.
The vocal harmonies were particularly strong, with a the tonal quality that was practically faultless, thus making their songs that more emphatic. A very enjoyable start to the day.
Straight afterwards, over on the Uprawr stage were Saint[the]Sinner, whose metalcore vibe mixed with flavours of DnB has proven to be a popular trend, judging by their crowd size. However, while they showcased all of what makes their sound unique, the mix didn’t beef up their sound as it should do. The guitars, for a while, were completely inaudible over the bass, leaving it rather thin.
Having said that, their vocal interchanges provided more depth and both vocalists were clearly in prime musical shape. As the guitars begin to make themselves heard, the harmonies were noticeable by their frequent appearance, that when mixed with some DnB samples boost Saint[the]Sinner’s rating by a mile.
Over on the Southampton Music Magazine stage were hometown melodic metalcore prodigies Our Hollow, Our Home. The guys evidently have a strong home presence at Takedown 2014, exemplified tenfold as they unleash a punishingly loud, breakdown-filled onslaught.
Their harsh vocals were deep, raw and well-executed, which when interspersed with melodic clean singing, provided some flavours that fitted the tone appropriately and didn’t take away from the chuggy rhythmic pace, but what was truly impressive was their crowd interaction, which was something to be admired, they were great at crowd engagement, with OHOH throughout their perfect sounding set.
Minutes later, the same stage played host to Portsmouth’s Seasons In Wreckage. Fresh off releasing their EP Perspectives and a European tour, they come all guns blazing. Their melodic hardcore vibe has that raw edginess reminiscent of older traditional hardcore whilst possessing some modern melodic hooks and chord voicings which provided an interesting touch. The chuggy segments came in full flow, and proved enjoyable – but as their set goes on it becomes clear that the bass was neither as loud nor emphatic as needed to really engage. they had a great hardcore presence but just lacks in beef.
Back over at the Jagermeister stage crowd favourites Feed The Rhino were just about to go on, they were the big talk of the day. starting off with their tight, polished hard rock-metalcore sound, the noise permeated the walls and sparked a furious frenzy of beatdown-fuelled aggression. Their neat punk flavours provide some depth and edge to their sound, as do the melodic leads, while their anthemic choruses also proved enjoyable.
Despite the crowd taking a couple of minutes to really get involved, Feed The Rhino embraced that and continued along anyway. While interesting at first, as the band progresses their variance only got so far and didn’t lacked experimentation. They were fun to watch but otherwise rather one-dimensional musically.
Heart In Hand were next up on the Uprawr stage, they have the presence of a well-oiled machine and the talent to back it up with. They are rhythmic, tight and energetic to the absolute maximum.
Their hardcore sound was thoroughly engaging and executed brilliantly, showcasing some more melodic influences with their newer songs, the fans continued to embrace their progression. Supported by a great sounding mix, fierce subdrop-induced beatdowns and a nice blend of chords and melody, they offered an insane overall performance that is hard not to like.
On the Big Deal stage (a small raised stage in between walls of a bar) were Centiment, who recently came released their début album Streets Of Rage. For those who don’t know, Centiment are basically a side project of InMe, are also fronted by Dave McPherson, and possess a hybrid sound of djent, tech metal, ambient rock, 8-bit and post-hardcore. Make sense yet?
They have to be heard to be believed, and they pose an appearance of a band that is versatile, experienced and vocally dominant. McPherson’s death growls, although few and far between in the first instance prove thorough and deep in between his harmonised clean singing. The groove sections are emphasised and varied, where the polyrhythmic drumming was quite the standout. Possibly the best 8th gig any band’s ever played.
Back over at the Uprawr stage was Heart Of A Coward, whose punishing djenty-metalcore fury has always delivered onstage. with this occasion being no different and exceeding my expectations by a clear mile.
(photo credit: Steve Kilmister)
They proved to once again be unbelievably tight, solid and crisp-sounding, their groove-heavy pace and earth-shattering breakdowns proved to be an absolute treat to hear and watch, with the crowd eating it all up. The vocal precision from Jamie Graham was perfect, but that was expected. The layering proved to be exceptional, as did the bass tone which emphasises the entire groove to the best of its ability. Awesome in every aspect.
A quick journey back to the Big Deal stage for I Divide proved challenging as their big crowd is hard to navigate through. After doing so, it became clear that their post-hardcore and pop-punk amalgamation is solidly cut, their emphasis is based purely on the strong vocal capabilities of the frontman.
He possesses an exceptionally strong voice and ability to deliver. However, there was a distinct lack of rhythm, something which thinned out the instrumental pace behind his otherwise brilliant vocals. The harmonies matched and is clearly the strongest point of the bands set, but their overall mix didn’t do them justice.
Jamie Lenman was next up on the Jagermeister stage. Formerly of the band Reuben, Lenman paces onstage dressed as if to play a blues gig. That is far from the truth in the first instance, although it shouldn’t be ruled out – as Lenman’s band’s genre exploration in his set was quite frankly astonishing.
Starting off with a piercingly loud hardcore belter, followed by a post-hardcore sing-along, quickly picking the pace up again with a tech metal rhythmic piece to be adequately followed by a pop-punk ballad. Only at Takedown Festival. Lenman’s best qualities are hard to pinpoint at first, apart from his amazing depth and variance in genre experimentation – his harsh vocals were deep and furious, while his cleans were polished and highly ranged. An eye opener to say the least.
After taking a journey over to the TotalRock stage for the first time today, it appeared the set times have overran by roughly 30-40 minutes, as Black Spiders were due to start at 8pm, but the stage still holds the members of Turbowolf dishing out their immensely tight hard rock sound.
As much as Black Spiders could have delivered an amazing half hour of versatile, loud heavy metal – a large percentage of the crowd went off drudging over to the Jagermeister Stage…
…which played host to Kids In Glass Houses, who clearly were one of the bigger talking points of the day, mainly due to the recent announcement of their break up and farewell tour to start later this year. this perhaps maked their set that much more enthusiastic, the band themselves wasted no time in bringing a theatrical, passionate and tight sound to the festival.
However, not to discredit the band, but the sound was poorly mixed at first. Their guitars and bass became drowned, but this was eventually fixed. Luckily their tremendous crowd response makes up for it, while their vocal deliverance was solid sounding but only emphasised with hundreds of other voices in line. They continued to engage well with the crowd, but their set ended up rather average as a whole – a bit of a shame considering they’re calling it quits this year.
Due to travel commitments, there is only time for one more band of the day, which came in the form of Rise To Remain – perhaps best known for boasting the incredibly talented son of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson at the vocal helm. While the Uprawr stage at this point is sparsely filled due to Kids In Glass Houses’ enormous crowd, Rise To Remain were quick to dish out their fine-tuned, aggressive metalcore with unmatched energy.
Sporting a near thunderous tone, the band quickly picked up the pace in delivering an awesome presence and delivered on all aspects, both vocally and musically. Austin Dickinson in particular emphasises the edge to their conventional metalcore sound, due to his speed onstage, his seemingly unparalleled energy and timely precision. Arguably one of their stronger sets in recent memory – with their new song “Over And Over” proving a crowd favourite already.
On the whole, Takedown Festival 2014 boasted some incredible sets and a wide variety of choice. Active in showing support for local underground music, the talent on display was compelled in their quests to bring the scene closer together. They did just that, and everyone embraced it with open arms. Very enjoyable day of music that needs to continue in the same fashion.
Review by Dan Walton