Officially a celebration of the birthday of Alec Leach, guitarist with The Gold Coast, tonight is as much a chance to revel in the talent and raw potential of Sheffield’s current heavy music scene as it is for him to get merry with his mates. The humble confines of The Stockroom, shapes up as a melting pot of metal, hardcore and post-rock.
Following them, proceedings instantly shift from the quaint to the expansive with the instrumental rock of Bleaklow. Featuring the talents of ex-Architects bassist Tim Lucas and fittingly named after an area of the Peaks, their soundscapes are elevated by plentiful tapped guitars and thundered out to hypnotic effect.
It's a trend continued with the heavier Naisian, whose brand of post-metal draws direct comparisons with genre forerunners Isis, in its swells and lulls, with occasional barked vocals buried beneath waves of sound. The band’s sheer stamina is commendable as their half hour set is comprised of just two songs and yet they manage to sustain the attention of an appreciatively nodding audience.
Various lineup changes had occurred throughout the day, with Doncaster’s While She Sleeps pulling out, to be replaced by And So Their Eyes Were Bloodshot, also scheduled to perform at Leadmill’s Battle of the Bands next door to compete for a slot at this year’s Download festival.
However, following the arrest of one of their band members, this wasn’t to happen and instead the vacant slot is taken up by two piece comedy grindcore act Six Foot Squirrels, who give us a brief lesson in hyper fast riffing and blastbeat drums. Throw in a few well aimed quips about their peers' run-in with the law and the result is one that doesn’t disappoint.
The Humble Hoax make an impact that is anything but humble, vocalist Mark instantly mixing with those gathered, injecting a tension into this intimate affair as one was wary of becoming the next target of his attention.
He's the perfect antidote for the fatigue beginning to prevail by this time; he grinds one punter, nicks another’s hat and rightfully chastises those at the back for remaining seated. However, his presence never fully distracts from the power of the band. Shimmering and graceful one minute, crushing the next, his shriek simply adds to their emotive core rather than becoming the focal point.
Their performance rounds off a very happy birthday evening indeed, with the lucky stragglers who got this far dispersing slowly, safe in the knowledge that metal is alive and well in the City of Steel.