Live Review: American Head Charge @ The London Dome 17/09/2017

We arrive at The London Dome to discover that Once Human have dropped off the bill at the last minute “due to circumstances beyond their control” and have been replaced by female fronted Swedish hard rockers Liv Sin. So tonight’s preceedings… Reptil [1/5] open the show in piss poor fashion. The band are clearly playing to a backing track as there is no keyboard player or guitarist on stage but these are clearly heard. Instead, the Motograter-lite band have two drummers, a bass player and two vocalists on stage, though the skinny female in a bikini wearing a Medusa mask provides very little. Indeed, the whole thing just looks painful and awkward.

Brisbane’s In Death [2/5] don’t fare that much better due to vocal issues and a muddy sound asking their Death Metal technicalities, though they try and make the best of it. Vocalist Krugga sports a “Jurassic Cock” t-shirt (“Bury The Cock”) which gains a few laughs and the band are seen to mix with the crowd for beers after their set. The future is bright for them as a Flaming Arts Europe development roster band and with a Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head, Once Human) produced EP “Thanatos” in their back catalogue.

Swedish Metal-tinged-Hard Rockers Liv Sin [4/5] win over an audience not expecting to see them, with a tightly played set and some epic solos. Vocalist Liv Jagrell is a seasoned musician from her days fronting Sister Sin and this new band isn’t that much different. Songs from the bands debut album “Follow Me” go down well with “Hypocrite” and “Immortal Sin” stand out moments.

Taking the stage as a 5-piece with (hed)p.e. drummer Jeremiah “Major Trauma” Stratton and guitarist Benji Helberg as guests for the tour, American Head Charge [5/5] smash through a 70 minute set in some style. Keyboards and samples are handled via guitarist Karma Cheema and a laptop stage left and the band are seen to tech their own gear prior to the set. Trauma adds a different vibe to the drum work and as much as Chris Emery was loved, Trauma is superior in a live setting, adding a warmth, flow and soul to the music. In contrast, Benji Helberg, who featured in the “Can’t Stop The Machine” documentary and played live guitars in AMC between 2005 and 2009, has the facial expression of someone who is struggling throughout the set. He tries to head bang and get into the music on a number of occasions but then quickly returns to concentration on playing seemingly for fear of making a mistake. What AMC do, they do to sweet perfection. Cuts from 2016’s “Tango Umbrella” like “Let All The World Believe”, “Drowning Under Everything” and “Perfectionist” sit perfectly alongside classics like “Dirty” and “A Violent Reaction” though nothing from the “Shoot” EP appears in the set tonight. Indeed their only slip up is vocalist Cameron Heacock forgetting the lyrics to a verse of “Seemless” and having to wait to jump back in at the chorus. “Loyalty” is a big sing along as is “Never Get Caught” with Cameron frequently holding the mic out to the crowd in classic call and responce style. The beauty of that is that unlike Liv Sin, who have to ask and tell the crowd to react, for AMC, it happens organically, such is their live prowess.

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