Saturday, June 22, 2024

Gojira, Employed to Serve and Alien Weaponry team up as all monsters attack Manchester

After a number of delays caused by the pandemic, French progressive death metal titans Gojira return to Manchester to give their highly engaging lecture about living in harmony with nature despite man’s inability to preserve it… and also whales. UK Metalcore/Hardcore rising stars Employed to Serve joined and so did New Zealand folk metalcore outfit Alien Weaponry joined as part of their first-ever UK tour. 

Employed to Serve | Photos by Chris James Ryan

First up was Employed to Serve and it may have taken a few minutes to get acclimated with the sound but once the sound was balanced, they were incredible and sounded flawless. Having very little knowledge of Employed to Serve beforehand, it was really unexpected to hear some of the most disgusting breakdowns in recent memory. 

Employed to Serve feel vaguely reminiscent of Sikth with their strange atonal leads that add dissonance and give this unhinged feeling that is largely associated with hardcore. The most effective moments of Employed to Serve’s set are definitely the breakdowns on tracks like ‘Dull Ache Behind my Eye’. While the breakdowns have the reputation the guitar solo had in the 80s in that they are often overused and lazy, these serve the song really well and the sound in the venue gave it that extra gut punch the audience needed. 

Employed to Serve | Photo by Chris James Ryan

Vocalist Justine Jones has an absolutely ferocious stage presence and her vocal style matches that intensity perfectly as she screeches and roars her way through songs that are really technically demanding from a vocal point in terms of screaming technique and she just became more unhinged as the set went on culminating in the end track, ‘Mark of the Grave’ which caused absolute unbridled chaos in the centre of the room. 

Alien Weaponry

Alien Weaponry were next and they’re a one-of-a-kind band with a sound that is absolutely unique. Alien Weaponry are from New Zealand and they are really in tune with the Maori culture going so far as to sing the majority of their songs in Maori. 

Alien Weaponry may be some people’s first experience of Maori culture and they give a really rich and vivid depiction of the culture despite largely speaking a different language. A lot of the historical context will be lost on a British audience but the music transcends language and invokes pure hostility in the best way possible. 

Alien Weaponry

All their music feels primal and life-affirming in a way that a lot of bands work for years to accomplish, ‘Raupatu’ just oozes aggression and energy and their entire set maintains this throughout with tracks like ‘Kai Tangata’ and a rare English track ‘Holding my Breath’. ‘Rū Ana Te Whenua‘ tells the story of their ancestors who fought at the battle of Pukehinahina and while many don’t speak the language, it may well inspire so many to research Maori culture as well as their own. 

Gojira

After a rather dramatic and atmospheric countdown, Gojira revealed themselves from behind a giant curtain with the harmonic riffs of ‘Born for One Thing’ culminating in some absolutely huge stomping riffs. It should be unsurprising that Gojira have access to ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ and Manchester felt it in full force, even with some bizarre rhythms it became second nature to just cut loose and flail wildly to whatever devastating riff was playing at the time. 

‘Stranded’ the song that sold a million Digitech Whammy pedals made an appearance, the weird octave-shifting riff is now iconic – even the other segments of the song have this aggressive illusion of simplicity while still maintaining this rhythmic complexity that shifts enough to keep engaging but not enough to lose people. 

Gojira

Gojira are not a band that feature Christian lyricism but Jesus was in the audience and could be seen crowd-surfing and distributing blow-up killer whales during the slow ambient part of ‘Flying Whales’. He got lost in the shuffle once the riff kicked in and the crowd kicked off during the immensely powerful riffs that followed, even the quietest and dignified people in the room felt compelled to two-step. 

‘Fortitude’ has been somewhat divisive amongst fans, perhaps due to its more atmospheric nature but the songs from the album that were played all went down extremely well. The rhythmic weirdness of ‘Grind’ and percussive signature pick scrapes provided a lot of the same aggression the band is known for as well as the more melodic moments acted as a  break. Gojira has admitted they may have channelled Mastodon without knowing and ‘Another World’ may be the most telling example – if this song is a good barometer of quality then we can only hope for a collaboration between the two. 

Gojira

‘L’enfant Sauvage’ is an underrated modern prog metal masterpiece, it has so much depth and seething aggression just baked into it at every sharp turn and the weird variation in the main riff gives that extra bit of texture. The buildup has so much and builds tension in awe-inspiring form and the eventual breakdown feels like a dam bursting as the entire room goes absolutely feral. 

Gojira ended their set with the monolithic riffing of ‘Silvera’ and the Digitech Whammy-driven weirdness of ‘New Found’ before diving into the highly progressive and occasionally beautiful atmosphere of ‘The Gift of Guilt’, a song that will probably stay on the setlist till the band calls it a day. With all that, everyone leaves and spends the following day (a Monday) in pain. 

Gojira

Gojira have always been a unique band with a lot of emphasis on caring for the planet and preaching messages of being eco friendly but their music best embodies the folly of man and its carelessness, much like Godzilla himself, they are a force of nature from a musical standpoint and they bring a noble yet cautionary message to the public while creating some of the best music in death metal history. 

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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