Djent, grime and hardcore all rolled into one was going to fill my Wednesday evening. In one of the last instalments of the Download Freezes Over tour; Hacktivist, Dead Harts and The One Hundred were going to bring an eclectic mix to The Temple.
Being the smallest venue that The Institute complex has to offer I thought the attraction of Hacktivist would be enough to fill the 300 capacity room pretty quickly, but I was wrong. Walking into a sparsely filled venue never fills me with much hope, but thankfully on this occasion The One Hundred were able to indoctrinate their audience with their Enter Shikari meets Astroid Boys sound with ease. By the end of their set, the room was looking slightly less malnourished and the crowd seemed suitably warmed up for the hardcore onslaught of Dead Harts.
Being the only band that didn’t have Dizzee Rascal influences, Dead Harts had a few issues getting the crowd to appreciate what they were doing – all the warming up that The One Hundred had done was wasted on the dull audience. Deadened applauses and a lack of co-operation from the crowd must be slightly off putting for a band, but the hardcore quintet carried on regardless. It became increasing clear as the night progressed that the majority of the room were there for Hacktivist. Pity. The Harts put on, in my humble opinion, a killer set that could entertain the right crowd with no problems.
Time for Hacktivist, and all of a sudden, I had been pushed to the back of the venue by the masses of people that had piled in after Dead Harts’ set – I must have missed that. Not to worry though, their lengthy intro track, Rage, managed to find its way all the way back to the bar and shake my bones with its bass. Once the kind gentleman next to me had, at my request, woke me up when the intro had finished, Hacktivist took to the stage.
My earlier thoughts were confirmed when the Progressive Grime outfit smashed into their set, with False Idols, causing an eruption in the crowd big enough to leave a disruptive ash cloud over Europe for around six days. Track four sees Hacktivist play the ‘fight music’ that is Unlike Us; however, it was slightly overshadowed by track five, their incredibly popular cover of the Jay-Z and Kanye West track N*ggas In Paris – even I, still in mourning for the Dead Harts pit, enjoyed it – ‘that shit H.’
To say the pace slowed down for track eight, Cold Shoulders, would be wrong as the sea of heads continued to bob like the buoys on the Atlantic in the middle of a tropical storm. However, there was definitely a slightly less aggressive progressive grimestep section though, I promise. Not being a ‘fan’ of the band I am unaware of what the duelling vocalists sound like when recorded, but live, I’m unsure they need Ben Marvin as anything more than a hype man. In terms of rapping ability, J Hurley is far superior to Marvin and with additional vocals coming from guitarist, Timfy James it means that Marvin is standing around for a lot of the set. It is definitely worth mentioning that James, as well as playing, note perfect, has one of the best clean vocals I’ve heard live in a while. The penultimate track is Elevate which sees Marvin take a dive and end up surfing from one side of the crowd to the other and also prompts one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night with the hate fuelled line ‘a middle finger for liars that won’t learn.’ The obligatory fake set ending is performed before chants for more were heard from the audience. The encore track, 5 On It, gets a reaction that I was not expecting, stage invaders, stage divers and with no security there to stop them, they brought the intense set to a super intense ending.
I began the night with mixed feelings of the hybrid genre that Hacktivist have pioneered. Now, I’m not saying that I have been converted, but I have certainly been given a good insight into what these shows are like and from the perspective of a novice, I had a lesson from the best teacher. I was fully aware that hip-hop influenced metal was on the rise, but I never truly understood that it was as big as it is. When the Milton Keynes mob drop their full length album next year the scene will be crawling with bands attempting to emulate their unique style and very few will pull it off. Hacktivist are one of a kind and through their ever advancing sound, groove ridden grime beats and sheer determination, they are certainly intent on keeping that title.
N*ggas in Paris
(Jay-Z & Kanye West cover)
Deceive & Defy
No Way Back
5 On It
Review: Dan Wilson
Photos: Steve Kilmister