Live Review: Veil of Maya w/Thousand Below @ O2 Academy, Islington 9/03/2018

The O2 Academy in Islington is sold out for tonight’s co-headling show, the 7th date of the trio of bands 19 date European tour. The co-headliners have always seemed like an odd pairing, despite having played the likes of Vans Warped Tour together. Veil of Maya have descended from being a Deathcore band to incorporating a more tech-metal orientated sound and some clean vocals, while Dance Gavin Dance have always been a much softer band specialising in a more Math-Rock oriented sound. There shouldn’t be that much cross-over of fan bases here but given that the show is sold out, fans of both bands are out in force.

Thousand Below [4/10] open tonight, their first tour outside of the US. The bands Rise Records debut album “‘The Love You Let Too Close” has gained them plenty of attention but sadly the band have at least one instrument on a backing track. During a number of songs it’s obvious that there is a rhythm guitar part being played and both guitarists appear to be playing lead parts. The drums and vocals are clearly live but the bands guitar sound is so highly polished compared to the guitarists playing that a backing track seems obvious. Frontman James DeBerg seems almost hyperactive at times during the San Diego post-hardcore/hard rock quintet’s set and his between song speaking is so fast that it’s almost impossible to understand what he’s saying. The album title track and set closer “Vein” are more impassioned than the rest of the set, but the band are sorely lacking and it’s a disappointment.

Veil of Maya [9/10] have released a pair of stunning albums since the arrival of vocalist Lukas Magyar to replace Brandon Butler. “False Idol” is a tech-metal crossover masterpiece and the biggest surprise of the night is that only two songs from it, “Whistleblower” and “Overthrow” get aired tonight. The band instead lean heavily on 2015’s “Matriarch” with 7 of the bands 12 song set coming from Lukas Magyar’s debut with the band. The band do however include some older material with “Punisher” from “Eclipse”, “Unbreakable” from “[id]” and “It’s Not Safe to Swim Today” from “The Common Man’s Collapse” all getting a dusting off. Veil of Maya demonstrate technical skill and high energy throughout their set and it’s obvious that the band are having a great time. Indeed when the crowd burst into circle pits without being asked by the band, then it’s always a good sign. Lukas Magyar’s incredible vocal range on the bands recordings is apparent tonight with no vocal help required from any of the other band members. It’s a fantastic night for the band and the set will live long in both their and our memory. We’re not the only ones to leave with huge smiles at the end of their set.

Note: Yes, Dance Gavin Dance were also on this bill, though having listened to their material – especially current album “Mothership” – and not being fans, we decided not to review them or hang around for their set. The show was sold out and there were plenty of Dance Gavin Dance tees on show so no-doubt their fans had a great time, but they’re not for us.

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