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  • Writer's pictureNikki Smash

Heart of a Coward, THECITYISOURS, ASHEN UK DEBUT & SUNFALL at the Camden UNDERWORLD 20/10/23

Heart of a Coward 'THIS PLACE ONLY BRINGS DEATH TOUR' Last night of the sell out UK tour at Camdens Underworld Friday 20th October 2023. Supports came from main tour support THECITYISOURS and only show supports came from Paris based 5 piece ASHEN playing their UK debut show and southern UK nu-core outfit SUNFALL.

We were down their to witness the climatic end of this tour and take official photos from the night. There are links to the full gallery of pics from Dunc 'Rock Photographer' Tyler if you want to see more.

SUNFALL - Opening Act

First up on this absolutely mad bill at the Underworld was the 4 piece brutal nu-core ‘SUNFALL’ a band that had totally passed me by and I hadn't had a chance to properly sit down and listen to them before the show but sometimes that's the best way to hear bands isn’t it? Just go see them live, human to human.

Straight out the gate Sunfall frontman Sam Worsfold took no prisoners and obliterated the mic with his powerful guttural vocals. For the first two songs, the front of house mix was a tough listen and i’m not going to hold that against anyone but I think this was down to a packed bill with little to no soundcheck opportunity and i know exactly how that feels. However, once the sound was sorted it was a gargantuan sound, this also didn’t affect the musicianship of SUNFALL. I think it’s safe to say that each band on this bill was filled with top flight musicians.

SUNFALL guitarist and founder Oliver Welzen-James is a good player and made the at times complex technical riffs look like it was a breeze, I barely saw the man look at his fret board which allowed for some brilliant eye looking and performance moves. As a guitar geek Oliver had some nice chops and a stunning jazzmaster which was cool to see that style guitar in this genre, so much so I had to go and tell him after the set!

Tight bass playing from James Titcomb who sat in the pocket nicely to some genius drumming from Ryan Wood. SUNFALL have a really good sound, there are clear elements of that late 90’s high tuned ping snare drum tone, with the 00’s nu-metal rap growl vocal and real modern bass and guitars. I have to mention the great live performance from Worsfold on their track ‘Quiet Kid’ he nailed the rap and flow section and his physical performance added to the tense nature of the lyrics and style. A really impressive vocalist.

As I stated I was unfamiliar with SUNFALL prior to this show and what I saw from this short set was killer, I think (like some of the other artists on the bill) these guys are in for the long haul.

They’ve got another London show at 229 on November 11th. I highly recommend you getting down there and catching them before the year is out!

ASHEN - UK Debut show - second support.

ASHEN is a rock-influenced metalcore band from Paris, France formed in 2021. ASHEN is a cathartic tool for its members, pushing them to develop a plural and introspective identity. Traumas, fear and anxiety are the essence of their creativity. Through each new release, the band aims to constantly reinvent itself, musically as well as visually, resorting to different identities, but also to various characters.Their music, made up of ragged textures and evoking harrowing atmospheres, illustrates sufferings from the past and fears for the future. ASHEN deals in depth with the expression of the intense and conflicting feelings that come with living in the modern world.

I stumbled across ASHEN by chance through Spotify. Myself and my wife were drinking red wine and listening to music and then we both stopped talking and looked in the direction of where the music was playing and both went “Who the hell is this? It sounds incredible”. And it was, it was the sound of ASHEN and I instantly loved it and became addicted to their sound. We hit up YouTube instantly and watched all of their videos and we were blown away to say the least. I could happily talk about that all day, but let's move on to the live show!

I was really really looking forward to this show, it was an amazing surprise for me as I had only discovered ASHEN at the beginning of 2023 and I never thought I'd be able to see them live let alone in the UK this year! My excitement for the show was high and it was even higher with ASHEN on the line up. The beginning of their set was presented with an emergency service call voice “Don’t be alarmed, for the next 30 mins i will guide you through” Or close to those sentiments. Clem and the guys walked on, dressed as the archetype modern rock stars. There were elements of European 90’s underground rave scene meets early 00’s cyber goth punk and you really felt their presence. The crowd roared to their arrival and the vibe in the room shifted quickly to this tension as no one had any idea what to expect. Then BANG, sub drops, the whole band are in and they opened with “Angel''. That ASHEN sound I hoped they could deliver live was even better live. It was powerful, those riffs sounded bendier than on record, the sonic proficiency that had just filled The Underworld was masterful. This is before I mention the exceptional front man Clem Richard. Man, that versatile vocal you hear on the record? It’s incredible live and Clem is able to deliver this while moving around and when I say moving around he’s dancing, throwing professional level dance moves with flair and confidence.

They’re quickly into the next track ‘HIDDEN’ which is the track that got me into the band. The Underworld erupted, the crowd gave themselves over to Clem, we were his now and the service announcement at the beginning of the set was right, we were being guided through this performance. Everyone in the room was united and we were all in the moment, it was a remarkable feeling. It’s been a very long time since I felt that at any show.

We were then hit with ‘NOWHERE’ which is my favourite track and in the record the vocal is soaring. It’s so high and I thought “man, how are they going to pull this one off?”. Well of course they pulled it off, they tuned it down even lower (I think by a full step) and that can have a strange effect sometimes even though it allows vocalists to hit the notes but it can lose the power. This didn’t lose any power of effect, it actually made it more intense and hearing those lyrics made it hit different.

Niels, Antoine & Thibaud left the stage to leave a blacked out stage with a low sub rumble and Tristan and Clem engaging each other with an intense stare. For the next two minutes Clem and Tristan put on a stunning display of art. Vocals, articulated technical drumming, synchronised lights and energetic dancing - this was greatness. Music, dance, fashion all perfectly interwoven together, it was just mind blowing to be a witness to. I captured a short video, albeit on my phone, of some of it here. After this small performance I heard several members of the audience behind me say “That was f**king incredible” and they weren't wrong, it was.

They broke into their rework cover of the Nirvana classic ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. We’ve featured this a few times on our Spotify Radio show ‘Riff Yard Radio’ and it’s a brilliant and clever remake and I thought “Man this is bold to try and play this live” especially in the UK with the history Nirvana has here. When they started playing it you could feel the crowd was unsure but 60 seconds into it the crowd got it and it just went off with everyone singing along, pure magic! They ended the set with their monster hit single ‘OUTLIER’ and it was crushing, absolutely crushing, live. Core pits galore I took a huge kick to my back. I'm 37 and it hurt more than I remember and it was going off. I ended up trying to block it from hitting some women next to me so my good deed for the day was also achieved!

I say this with care and full conviction, what I witnessed was nothing short of world class, true greatness. The songs, the playing, the performance, the art, the image and the passion, it was perfect. It was beautiful to watch, feel and hear. Clem is going to be world renowned and one of the best frontmen in the world, in fact he already is one of the best frontmen in the world - the world just isn’t fully aware of this yet.

ASHEN are back in the UK in February/March 2024 and you have to go and see this and witness them for yourself in the smaller venue setting before they take off - and mark my words they will take off.

THECITYISOURS - Main Tour Support

Could there have been a better main support for this tour? No, is the answer to that question. Straight up, I've been friends with talisman Mikey Page for 6 years but never been able to get the stars to align for me to see a show, thankfully the stars did align and man I am kicking myself because THECITYISOURS are one of those bands that I'd put forward to the aliens if they wanted to know what UK rock & metal was like. THECITYISOURS put together a crazy high octane fueled set of bangers. The trendy look, real tight sound and it's worth pointing out the brilliant sticksman David Cardona. Even if you’re not into the core scene you could happily go just to watch and hear that beast play, honestly. In fact the whole band is sick musically, again similar to ASHEN, you have to go and see this band to appreciate the stellar musicianship on display.

THECITYISOURS opened with riff melodic hit ‘Violent’ and within 30 seconds The Underworld was heaving and the crowd opened it up and served frontman Oli Duncanson, who was delivering brutal noises in full force. THECITYISOURS have a real thick sound on record and even in the modern day of what can feel like out of control production, they delivered it in full, thick glory. No messing around with this set, it was slick, fast paced flying through rippers like ‘Dangerous, So Sad, Low’ before playing ‘Death Of Me’ which is where I noticed a real change in the room. This is clearly a crowd favourite and the brilliant dynamic of Page and Duncanson really levelled even higher here. The crowd were with them for every lyric, you can see how much this meant on their faces.

Then I realised as they were going through this strong set that this band has a real cult loyal fan base and they’ve achieved this with the simple fact of being true to themselves with honesty and integrity. These songs have deep meaning and as I mentioned, you can see and feel that from the crowd, but it’s presented in the moment as a pure place of escape. I get it, if you’re reading this you’re like “Yeah mate, isn’t all music that?”. No it’s not, because there are so many artists and bands that are fake and want fame over musical integrity and concentrate on social media fandom.

THECITYISOURS are the real deal, I've seen it and tasted it. I love the image, the sound, the camaraderie between the band members and crowd. They finished off the set with ‘Coma, Casket & Alive’. You simply couldn’t get more from this set, the last night of the tour in the home town. THECITYISOURS make me proud of the British scene, a killer set from a killer band.

I have it on good authority that there is a new record ready and waiting for 2024 and I'm going to be catching up with Mikey for our podcast show soon. Make sure you stay connected and don’t miss out!

Heart of a Coward

Metal core heroes Heart of Coward finished their UK tour at the Underworld in Camden in celebration of their latest magnificent record ‘This Place Only Brings Death’, which is a mega record, if you haven’t heard it then after this go listen to it. I think this is their best and most complete record to date. The reaction to this record backs that statement up as well.

I have to be completely honest and disappointing here though, as I got kicked right in the back during ASHEN and then towards the end of the THECITYISOURS set I tripped over a step and stacked it. I’m actually currently awaiting a procedure on my back so this ended me so I only managed to stick around for the first 4/5 tracks on the Heart of a Coward set as I had to get home as I was in immense agony. So to the HOAC members and team I hope you’ll accept my sincere apologies for this not being a complete write up. However we do have some incredible photos for you taken by Dunc ‘Rock Photographer’ Tyler which i hope you’ll enjoy and your fans enjoy also.

The room was so tightly packed at the Underworld i honestly haven’t seen it that packed for years. Also I want to mention that the HOAC fanbase was some of the most pleasant I've ever come across and to me that's a reflection of the band as people and as artists which is a wonderful accolade to hold high.

Man, when they kicked in the immense wall of sound and volume was untouchable. Shout out to their front of house engineer because it was ‘perfect’. Every instrument had its pocket and the whole place erupted. A beautiful chaos and some of the younger members of the audience seemed like a little star struck which was really nice to see. Heart of a Coward has that presence about them and it’s not full of ego or arrogance. Kaan takes a humble but authoritative stance on stage and delivers pitch perfect vocal growls and tone. The band is super tight, great tones and players and performance. Kaan was cracking jokes about the new tunes and the use of laptops which I thought was great and harping an alliance nod to the likes of Ronnie Radke.

After the short amount of the set I caught I thought on my way home that Heart of a Coward has the potential to be the ‘the next thing’. I f**king hate saying things like that but what I mean by this is the ‘next’ band to reach the heights of fellow UK bands like ‘Architects’ & ‘While She Sleeps’. I believe the trajectory could place them as ‘Core-Kings’ in the coming years.

After this tour and the hype of the new record you’d expect some down time this close to christmas so my gut tells me we should hear of a new tour for next year maybe something like supporting a bigger act, who knows! What i will say is this, if you like this scene, you like to support your own blood (this being a UK band) then you must go check them out live. It’s a great experience, the sound, the songs, the familia community with the rest of the fans and that get lost in the moment feeling then book the tickets as soon as you see them and go see the future core-king's Heart of a Coward.

Click here for the full Gallery of Heart of a Coward photos.

End of tour picture of Heart of A Coward & THECITYISOURS

Photo Credit: LJR photography

(This photo is from THISCITYISOURS Facebook page)

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