LIVE: Issues / Lotus Eater / GroundCulture @ Underworld, Camden

By Adam Rosario

For many bands, losing a vocalist can be crippling. Losing what is often a key part of their identity leaves a stern test for the rest of the band. Issues, however, aren’t like other bands. With the departure of screamer Michael Bohn in favour of pastures new, the band have all stepped up to cover his parts with aplomb, and after the recent release of new record ‘Beautiful Oblivion’, this is the UK’s first chance to see what they’ve come up with. 

Opening the Underworld tonight, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s GroundCulture take to the stage and deliver a storming set. With a modest crowd, they’re treated to a masterclass in maximising time. Across a six song set, GroundCulture lay waste. With incredibly technical riffs and a sound that mixes the best parts of Cancer Bats and While She Sleeps, they’re a band on the up. Front man Roy Watson brings traditional Geordie charm to the show, but unleashed an animal inside with his guttural vocals. ‘Sculptures’ and closer ‘Catalyst’ in particular really shine, seeing Watson in the crowd for half the set screaming in among the mosh pit and presenting GroundCulture as a band who deserve more recognition. 

Lotus Eater have been something of a hyped proposition throughout this year. From opening up All Points East for Bring Me The Horizon, to being heralded as the future of British heavy music, this is a rare chance to catch a band who are on the brink of breaking out. Helpfully, they have the live set and performance to do so. The Glaswegians run through a ten song set at breakneck pace, with James McLees orchestrating chaos from the stage. A self-admitted fan of violence, McLees encourages as much as he can – with songs like ‘Freak’ and ‘Jawless’ slamming out of the speakers, it’s hard to believe this band aren’t already headlining venues this size. A new unreleased song ‘2nd To None’ is the highlight of the set, and if the new material matches up to the quality, this band are undoubtedly set to become huge. Lotus Eater are staking their claim to be the band who lead the next wave of British metal, and they could easily lead the whole new generation of metal worldwide.  

When the opening synth rumbles through the speakers to signify the entrance of the headliners, the energy in the room multiplies tenfold. Issues have carved out a significant and rabid fan base, and tonight’s sold out pays testament to that. ‘Here’s To You’ opens the show, as it does ‘Beautiful Oblivion’, with an immediacy and a chorus that is shouted back by the crowd. Considering the album has only been out a couple of weeks, the dedication of the fans is on show, especially during ‘Drink About It’, which garners one of the biggest reactions of the night. Vocalist Tyler Carter leads the crowd in the singalongs, holding them in his hand and getting them dancing. 

‘Never Lose Your Flames’ is the first ‘oldie’ in the set but sets off a frenzy of limbs in the crowd. Without Michael Bohn, it’s left to Carter and guitarist Adrien Rebello to share the majority of the screaming, which Rebello accomplishes in impressive style. It’s clear that Issues are becoming very adept at creating effective set lists, with ‘Hero’ from sophomore album ‘Headspace’ following, before a crushing ‘Stingray Affliction’ brings the chaos to a crescendo.

As the band are promoting a new record, there’s a lot of new music on show, with the heavy ‘Downfall’ leading into ‘Flexin’, which proves to be an instant hit with the fans. Carter’s strut on stage coupled with his best RnB vocals leaves the crowd chanting the song title, hoping they’ll play it again. Instead, they turn the volume way up and crash through ‘Second Best’, which sees Carter croon over big riffs and ride the melody of the chorus with expertise. The double hit of ‘Tapping Out’ into ‘The Realest’ causes some of the electronics to break momentarily. Fortunately, Issues boast one of the most charismatic bass players in the business and Skyler Accord treats the crowd to a bass solo that culminates in the ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Underground theme song, to a huge roar from the crowd. 

Issues close their fifteen song set on a double hit of ‘Slow Me Down’ – bringing the emotion and giving Carter the chance to really show off his talents – and ‘Mad At Myself’, which causes the venue to shake – there aren’t many bands who can bring the party as well as they can. They may be seen as oddballs in the scene, and mixing RnB and pop with metal doesn’t sound like it should work on paper, but the members of the band are so talented that they make it work. Tyler Carter really is a star in waiting, and with him at the helm, Issues are still one of the best parties you can attend.