LIVE: Feed The Rhino / The Howling / Zoax @ The Quarterhouse, Folkestone [16/05/14]

By Ben Tipple

Folkestone may seem like an odd place to close off their UK jaunt, but the reasonably notorious south coast port happens to be bassist Oz Cragg’s hometown, as well as a regular location during the Kent based hardcore band’s early years. In essence, tonight is as close to a homecoming show as can be, but perhaps more pressingly it’s an opportunity for Feed The Rhino to end the tour with a bang.

People are still arriving at the venue as Zoax take to the stage, delivering an unusual combination of System of a Down style vocal schizophrenia with a unique Glassjaw-meets-Avenged Sevenfold melody. The drawn out atmospheric breakdowns are as surprising as they are welcome, with frontman and all-out spectacle Adam Carroll pushing his vocal register to its upper limit.

Musically it’s enthralling and delivered without fault, even as Carroll rejects the stage in favour of gathering the small crowd around him as he screams at and blesses the perplexed onlookers, even using one girl as a human microphone stand. Not to be outdone by the vocalist, the remaining band thrash around on stage providing riffs galore and deeper, more traditional metal screams. Even disregarding the showmanship, Zoax have something really special going on.

Featuring Paul ‘The Rev’ Mayers of former Towers of London fame, The Howling are on hand to add a bit of modernised glam to tonight’s proceedings. Complete with electronic backing tracks and enough guitar work to set your fingers on fire, the band’s placement on the bill does feel a little odd. Despite this, the band demolish the stage with a cocky bravado mirrored in their distinctive style.

Ultimately it’s loud – very loud; loud enough to send this reviewer running for a pair of earplugs to avoid lasting damage. Yet underneath the volume there’s a hell of a lot going on, be it the laptop working its magic, the rock and roll drum patterns underpinning the trio of vocalists, or the contrasting sounds being emitted from the two guitarists. Sometimes it’s all a little too much, but when it’s right the audience are hit by a barrage of rock and roll swagger.

As Feed The Rhino head to the stage to an ominous orchestral intro, it’s immediately clear that things are about to kick off. The guy in the vest excitedly shifting from one foot to the other in the widening pit seems to think so at least. He’s not wrong. Within seconds of the thundering opening notes there’s no stopping the crowd, and there’s certainly no stopping the band.

Frontman Lee Tobin coaxes the audience deeper into a frenzy, as the pit spreads from one side of the room to the other. He leaves the stage in favour of a more unique perspective – this time housed on the netting raised high to the ceiling to protect those below from the potential fall of equipment. It’s a sight to behold, but still one that doesn’t distract from the sheer quality of the musicianship.

Feed The Rhino power through material from their back-catalogue with enough force to level tonight’s venue. The monolithic drum beats reverberate as the charged mix of all-out hardcore and nightmarish melody envelop the room. The new material on offer further pushes the atmospherics – it’s sorrowful and angry, but most importantly it’s massive.

Tonight, Feed The Rhino have shown that they are still one of the most exciting bands on the circuit. More than a few eardrums will be hurting in the morning.