For an artist out on his first headline tour of the UK, Bridgend’s electro-industrial prodigy Jayce Lewis has certainly had an interesting career so far. Big initial success in Asia followed the release of his debut album back in 2010 and with the support of high-profile collaborators including Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen and notably the influence of Gary Numan, word around Lewis has steadily grown over on this side of the world as well following the release of ‘Million’, the first half of a two-part release that’s due to conclude next month.
Taking to the stage as blinding spotlights blaze into the crowd and the atmospheric synth intro ‘Created By You (Remembered As Myth)’ builds up the tension over the PA, it’s a bit like waiting for a spaceship to launch. When the inevitable electro beats of ‘OrderArt’ do blast off it’s a forceful start to the show, with the two bassists either side of Jayce providing a suitably heavy onslaught of industrial metal and the tribal-influenced drumming locking in a powerful groove.
Lewis commands the stage like a kind of cross between Numan and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, and occasionally brings to mind Jonathan Davies of Korn grasping his heavyweight mic stand. The sci-fi metal sound of Fear Factory is a clear influence on both the band’s musical approach and Jayce’s melodic yet at times eerie vocals, and indeed amongst the brutal riffs and harsh electronic sounds there’s often poppier elements at play under the surface, such as on the uplifting ‘Shields’. As well as tracks from ‘Million’, a large portion of tonight’s set is pulled from 2014’s ‘Nemesis’ album including ‘= Pure’ and the deep growly bass of the Orgy-esque ‘Sinner’, whilst the lone offering from the upcoming second part of ‘Million’ is the dark-sounding ‘Centaurus’, after which Jayce joins in on drums for a short tribal coda that shows echoes of Sepultura.
With big pounding drums, ‘Wrath’ has shades of ‘The Fragile’-era Nine Inch Nails, before the pace slows for ‘Make Believe’, a brooding goth-tinged track that sees Lewis pick up a guitar for the song’s climax. Thanking the other bands on the bill and showing appreciation to the crowd, Lewis then finishes by revisiting his 2010 self-titled debut with the set’s poppiest moment ‘Solitaire’ and set-closer ‘Electric Medicine’. It might have been a long time coming, but Jayce Lewis finds himself still gaining momentum and taking a big step towards the future.
Main support comes from industrial veterans Sulpher, who have recently regrouped to release their second album ‘No One Will Ever Know’ after a seventeen-year gap from their acclaimed debut ‘Spray’. In the meantime frontman Rob Holliday has toured extensively as a member of Marilyn Manson and The Prodigy and the experience has clearly had an effect on Sulpher’s live performance. The stage is flooded with smoke and lights as the band kick off with old favourites ‘Problem’ and ‘One Of Us’ and the atmosphere suits their hard, aggressive sound which nods towards the heavier side of Filter and early Nine Inch Nails. “You know, you can dance if you want to…” suggests Rob, and the slick drumming of ex-Curve drummer certainly makes that a possibility on the dark, riff-heavy ‘Unknown’ and new track ‘Used’. A few mistakes aren’t enough to derail the fast and heavy ‘Take A Long Hard Look’, and an excellent performance is capped off with the thrashy ‘Spray’.
When Coventry goths Deadfilmstar are setting up, they look dressed for the part with their black warpaint makeup and industrial style, but unfortunately it’s all wasted when they play their set in almost complete darkness, surrounded by only smoke and shadows. Reduced to a trio, they use garage-rock guitars and a drum machine to create a dark, sinister sound influenced by early Marilyn Manson, but they struggle to keep it together for much of the set, clearly to the band’s frustration. It’s a shame because there’s certainly hints of something interesting under the surface, but tonight’s showing is sadly one to forget.
Opening up the show, This Burning Age’s atmospheric alt-rock is a great start to the evening, and opener ‘Tatterdemalion’ covers all the bases straight away with powerful drums, rolling bass and crunchy guitars underneath a great gothic delivery from vocalist Friday. Tracks like ‘Want’ show the more mellow side of the band before building into a wall of guitars, referencing the gloomier side of Interpol and the sonics of My Vitriol on ‘Drown In Silence’. Certainly a band to keep up with in the future as they’re just beginning to blossom.
Reviewer: Ian Paget
Photographer: Ian Dunn