Review: Born of Osiris @Sub89, Reading

Reading’s music scene has more or less always been more vibrant than a lot of other towns. There is something special about a Reading show that sets it apart from the normal stop off towns between the Manchesters, the Londons and the Glasgows. However, if you were at Reading’s premier underground venue Sub89 (right next to popular night club Highlight) on the eve of 25th February 2013, you perhaps witnessed the best Reading show in recent memory.

Anticipation is in the cold miserable night air, and that does nothing to dampen anybody’s spirits. Fans have been queuing for hours in the hopes of getting a chance to meet four of the most talented underground metal bands in one tour. But what’s more, it’s unlikely that everybody realises just what they’re in for when they step through the doors.

Sub89 quickly fills up with shivering fans, but they are soon greeted by Sumerian Records’ Londoners The HAARP Machine and the chills return. From a neutral perspective, The HAARP Machine are filled with exceptional talent and potential, with a strong statement of combining art and revolution with their technical rhythmic melody and interesting tones. However, with the fast time signature changes and supremely crafted guitar sweeps that would make The Faceless’ jaws drop, it proves hard to get into at first. But the band persevere bassist-less and the crowd warm up in good fashion. For those that did not know, The HAARP Machine underwent some controversy in recent weeks due to band member differences, with the only remaining original member being guitarist Al Mu’min. From the looks of things, the new and improved HAARP Machine are poised to give their fans more and look as solid as if the lineup change had never happened.

Up next is Monuments, also hailing from London and at the behest of being one of Century Media’s most talented bands, with a definite future ahead of them immediately bring the party atmosphere to full swing after their intro track featuring Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. The band offer a couple of songs off their new album Gnosis which draws deafening cheers, and within seconds it appears everyone in the building has their heads permanently fixated in a groove head-bop motion – only too fitting for djent. Monuments are also quick to go full pelt in getting heads banging and voices screaming – but nothing but laughter is heard when The HAARP Machine’s vocalist emerges…with a saxophone and graces a solo akin to a guitar. That is not a typo at all, and I was completely sober when writing that.

The main support band, After the Burial, however, offer something even more special. Coming all the way from Minnesota, ATB return to Reading with even more energy and passion than they had when they left – which was hard to top. The band’s frontman Anthony Notarmaso unleashes an intimidating and furious vocal presence, which only parallels the earth shattering sub drops that are heard only in the heaviest parts, which pulsate through the body like an earthquake. ATB’s crowd favourites “Berzerker”, “My Frailty” and closer “Your Troubles Will Cease and Fortune will Smile upon You” are real pleasers and everything from circle pits to walls of death emerge in due course. This is a band of the future, and anybody who witnessed it would agree – and by the sounds of their new song which features copious amounts of groove, their new album due this year looks to be the magnum opus. Well played sirs, well played.

Now it’s time for the headliners – the Chicago quintet Born of Osiris. If the crowd were exhausted after venting all of their frustration during After the Burial, then they got perhaps a third or fourth wind and only stepped up their game when the masters of the technical death metal groove (God, I’m specific aren’t I?) emerged. Immediately bringing the atmosphere in Sub89 to a higher gear, Born of Osiris uncoil with songs such as “Ascension”, “Singularity”, “Recreate” and “Regenerate” along with many others from their latest album The Discovery – which only but fuels the already intense fire. In what seems like a relatively short set, the band quickly follows it up with an encore, giving their fans one last chance to go mental – which they do.

If you could take anything away from this gig, it’d be that these four bands are prime examples of unmatchable talent – and all in a single lineup proves nothing short of spectacular. Reading will be assured to welcome all back with open arms. Another fantastic show, and one which keeps my hope in the diminishing metal scene somewhat alive.

The HAARP Machine – 7/10

Latest album: Disclosure (2012) (C) Sumerian Records

Monuments – 8/10

Latest album: Gnosis (2012) (C) Century Media Records

After the Burial – 9/10

Latest album: In Dreams (2010) (C) Sumerian Records

New album due in 2013 via Sumerian Records

Born of Osiris – 9/10

Latest album: The Discovery (2011) (C) Sumerian Records

New album due in 2013 via Sumerian Records

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