Phonotonal
Aunt Steller

Aunt Steller
Live (Novalentines / Not Advised / Harsh)

A few wrong turns in St Mary’s meant that, as well as confirming my total lack of direction, I was now late for the start of the gig at The Joiners. However, after a few Italian Job style manoeuvres, I busted through the front door just in time to catch the final few songs from the first band’s set.

Immediately visible was the youth of Novalentines. Here is a school age band with all the connected traits. The group, all clad in black, have an energy and enthusiasm us old-uns’ always envy – the drummer hammering away as if it was his GCSE music exam. The last song of the set hinted at Novalentines’ style of choice; a power chord guitar intro paved the way for some good heavy riffs while the singer screamed out lyrics with an echo effect put to good use.

Inspecting a little closer, there were a few timing issues to be looked at, particularly in the last song. Screaming aside, at times it was hard to work out the singer’s words and although infused with a young vibrancy, the band’s lack of confidence hindered their performance. However, these are factors obviously attributed to inexperience of youth. That said, Novalentines have plenty of time to work on these points and while already showing potential, these kids could be a rock band to look out for.

Next up and by far the highlight of my own night was Not Advised. Though older than Novalentines, youth reigned once again. Fully equipped with a brand new hoody-sporting frontman (shopping mall ban ahoy), Not Advised brought a spark to the stage with some impressive sounding Emo; their lively performance complimented by a manic strobe-light operator.

‘Frontline’ saw a great interchanging melodic/metal rock style punctuated by some seamless rhythm changes and a powerful drumbeat. The upbeat ‘Falling Up’ encapsulated the band’s Emo rock style, being a great song for vocals. Jimmy Eat World, eat your heart out; Not Advised’s three-way harmonies just clicked and were unquestionably the best vocals of the whole evening.

Throughout the set, soaring guitar melodies, vocal harmonies and tempo changing breakdowns all became pleasant trademarks for the band, and combined to create a very inspired and at times emotive set.

Next up were Harsh, which are a band you can describe in three words: Hard. Fast. Raw. The centrepiece of this band had to be the huge drummer. A marching percussion intro to ‘Felix Leiter’ set the scene for some truly high tempo, ear-battering drum beats. From the off it was obvious that the drummer had indeed had his (and probably someone else’s) Weetabix; he was always on time, never quiet and always just about pushing the sound barrier.

With titles like ‘Thatcher’, ‘Death’, and ‘Hardcore’, it is no surprise that bar chords, distortion, and relentless riffs characterise Harsh’s punk/metal style. Managing to fit twelve songs and a jazz interlude into the set, the band’s turbo-charged rhythms were complimented with some good hooks and a musical tightness rarely found when playing like steam trains.

Harsh are certainly a polished outfit. Soaked in sweat by the end of the set it is clear they put in all their energy, which also raised the room temperature a few degrees.

Bringing the night to an end was Aunt Steller. Playing in front of a black and white skull banner and before a scattering of band t-shirt sporting followers, another fairly young group proceeded to give an animated performance. The opener ‘Spooks’ saw some offbeat percussion turn into a hectic rhythm to fire up the mosh pit – the strobe-light again aptly adding it’s own little bit of chaos.

Tracks like ‘Breakout’ and ‘Final Closure’ use heavy riffs and great punchy basslines to exemplify the band’s hard style of music; the latter even including a classic rock guitar solo to good effect. Admittedly, some work on tempo changes is needed – tracks like ‘Obessive Compulsion’ seemed to lack structure because Aunt Steller needed a tad more synchronisation.

The evening ended with lighters held in the air to ‘We are the English’ – a brief moment of rock serenity which was neatly obliterated by the frontman jumping into the crowd and starting off the mosh pit once again, all to the tune of some fast power chords.

At times their music seemed a bit directionless and rhythmically loose. However, Aunt Steller make up for this with a committed act, particularly from the leaping bassist and very active frontman. Getting the best reception of the evening, they must be doing something right.

Guest article from Dan H.

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