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Scrimshaw + Stanford Prison Experiment + Gratitude 6th July 2011

By Lauren Brooks

As Downward Spiral is on hiatus at the moment our continuous quest for a Wednesday dollop of metal took us to Hollywood and Vine. There we witnessed three bands that played with the energy of bands who have been playing for years, yet surprisingly had only been formed mere months earlier. The bands were: Gratitude, Scrimshaw and Stanford Prison Experiment, and we got to see them for the grand total of nothing. Which was nice.

First on-stage, Hull’s hardcore new-comers Gratitude strode forth to a largely male crowd, bringing with them a tide of testosterone-fuelled ferocity. Armed with not one, but two aggressive vocalists, their brand of hardcore packed a doubly powerful punch. However one thing I would say is that it would have been good to hear a different style of vocals from each singer, as both Ben and Luke vented their frustrations in a way not dissimilar to two rioting football hooligans hijacking a couple of microphones. The vocals were accompanied by Kane and Dana’s aggressive and unrelenting guitar work, Arron’s robust bass and John’s booming drums, the fast and forceful pace only occasionally slowing for some pleasantly surprising though oddly-placed melodic riffs. Gratitude played a fairly short set of four tracks from their Kingdoms EP, but provided an excellent start to our night. In my opinion, their overall performance could be improved with the injection of a few melodic vocals which would thicken up their sound and mirror the mellower guitar riffs included in their set. Additionally, I thought they had little stage presence with the vocalists rarely locking gazes with the audience and giving little interaction – however this is all understandable for a band that is only two months old. With this in mind, I look forward to crossing paths with Gratitude in the future and wish them luck in their conquest of Hull.

After a short break, the almighty Scrimshaw, armed with an undeniably punk attitude, invaded the stage. Formed in Lincoln, the hardcore/punk band put on a hell of a good show. Immediately, vocalist Arthur rampaged menacingly around the floor like a caged beast, occasionally crashing into the crowd and even ending up flat on his back at one point. His demonic death metal vocals roared along with thrash-tastic guitar and bass (courtesy of Chris and Lee) and thundering drums (by Matt), the band only ceasing their raging metalstorm due to intermittent faults with the microphone. Even so, they fiercely battled on even when the PA was crippled by a fault and interrupted the middle of one of their songs forcing them to re-start with the second verse. The most notable of their songs, St George’s Glory, was performed without a hitch, however, and really got the crowd going. Scrimshaw excelled at crowd interaction and entertainment, even bringing with them a somewhat legendary beer bong with which they fuelled the crowd’s frenzy. Without a doubt, Scrimshaw were the highlight of the night, and definitely a band to look out for in the future.

Last to perform, The Stanford Prison Experiment captivated the crowd with their Barton-upon-Humber-grown deathcore. Looking more like a secondary school PE lesson gone wrong, the dynamic quintet burst on-stage with I Kiss My Sweetie With My Fists, featuring vocals not all that different from what had come before. To look at them, one might have assumed they would be an alternative metal band which made it all the more surprising when they showed their true death metal nature. Vocalist Jamie showcased a voice that sounded like he was channelling the very legions of Hell. The band combined the collective years of Deathcore aggression (as evidenced in Danny’s tornado drumming and Zakk’s guitar work) with a few surprises such as Steve’s funk inspired bass riff at the beginning of Geoffrey Leonard, and the occasional sweeping guitar licks performed by George. Despite only forming in April, they have quickly achieved the popularity shared by some long established bands. I think the main reason for this is how they take a comedic approach with songs about memetastic paedophiles without compromising any of the ferocity you’d expect. One thing I have to pick them up on is that Jamie often faced the band and not the crowd, but other than that I find it hard to fault them.

Overall, the night provided some great entertainment and introduced me to some brilliant new metal bands. In particular, Scrimshaw impressed me with their awesome stage atmosphere. However, Gratitude and The Stanford Prison Experiment did produce some refreshing surprises which, for me, generated a lot of interest.