LIVE: Employed To Serve / Conjurer / God Complex / Hundred Year Old Man @ The Parish, Huddersfield

By Liam Knowles

The heavy music scene in the UK is extremely healthy right now, and tonight is a showcase of some of the most exciting young bands our nation currently has to offer.

Leeds post-metal sextet Hundred Year Old Man are gathering attention at a rate of knots, and from the intensity and scale of the performance this evening it’s easy to see why. Despite some recent lineup changes the band feels honed and focussed, with new vocalist Simon Wright’s versatile voice tearing through the likes of ‘Black Fire’ and other tracks from their fantastic recent debut album ‘Breaching’.

Think Cult Of Luna with a splash of hardcore and bleak, industrial samples stringing everything together, and you’ll be somewhere close to understanding this band. If there’s any justice then they will be one of the next heavy acts to break out from the UK underground.

After a captivating performance from the opening act, God Complex fall a little flat. Their groove-laden metal is played competently and they sound great but in all honesty they’re just a little predictable and formulaic when held up against the rest of this evening’s lineup. That doesn’t stop them getting a solid reception and when the breakdowns hit the mosh lads do just as they’re expected and set fists to swing. There’s no denying that God Complex are an entertaining live band with a strong stage (and off-stage) presence, and they do a great job of maintaining interest from a crowd who isn’t there to see them, but they’re just not a particularly engaging listen.

Main support Conjurer have been on an upward trajectory since the release of their phenomenal EP ‘I’ in 2016, and the release of their debut album ‘The Mire’ earlier this year has further cemented them as one of the most exciting bands in UK metal, if not THE most exciting. Tonight they deliver the best set of the evening, a set so overwhelmingly excellent it practically makes it a crime they’re not headlining. Older cuts like ‘Behold The Swine’ and ‘Scorn’ sound monstrous, but the album tracks like ‘Choke’ and ‘Retch’ are just on another level to anything else seen at this show.

The guttural low vocals provided by Dan Nightingale contrast perfectly with the piercing shriek of Brady Deeprose, and both lay down thick, intricate guitar lines that weave together to create Conjurer’s colossal overall sound. The rhythm section remains insufferably tight in behind; bassist Connor Marshall locks in seamlessly with drummer Jan Krause, which is no mean feat as Krause has drumming chops as far as the eye can see and feet so fast the people watching him are literally left slack-jawed at times. It’s no exaggeration to say that with the right direction, Conjurer could be absolutely massive within a couple of years, given what they’ve already accomplished in their relatively short lifespan.

No one envies tonight’s headliners Employed To Serve as they attempt to follow what came before them, but they didn’t get to their current level of success by being a slack live act, and as they take to the stage in matching windbreakers and launch into ‘Void Ambition’ they instantly prove they’re worthy of the hype that surrounds them.

Vocalist Justine Jones is as ferocious as they come, delivering her lyrical rage with aplomb while her bandmates execute riff after riff. Most of tonight’s set comes from last year’s ‘The Warmth of a Dying Sun’, which saw the band tone down the more technical, Botch-like elements of their sound and go for a more direct, groove-driven approach. That’s not to say they’re not still a technically accomplished band, as the razor sharp riffs of ‘Platform 89’ and ‘Half Life’ cut through the crowd like a knife, and pre-encore closer ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’ causes pandemonium, the crowd clambering over each other for mic-time at the front of the stage.

The older material is also welcomed eagerly, with ‘Beg For Rain’ and ‘Watching Films To Forget I Exist’ sitting comfortably among the newer tracks. The band returns to the stage after a brief exit to finish on ‘As Cold As The Rest’, leaving for the final time with a packed out room full of sweaty, broken people behind them.

Conjurer may have stolen the show tonight in terms of performance, but few bands go harder than Employed To Serve, and that causes their reputation to grow with each and every performance. If there was any uncertainty as to why Employed To Serve get the attention they get, tonight’s performance has silenced it forever.