Live Review: Gutlocker w/Imperium and Thirty Giants @ After Dark Club, Reading – by Al Bristow of Weaponry!

A week or so back we were talking to Weaponry frontman Al Bristow about “The Gasman Tour” this month when he mentioned his love of Gutlocker! Next thing you know he’s only gone and sent us a review of the last show he saw the Woking Groove Sludge Metallers at! So with Gutlocker about to embark on the “Deeper Up North Tour” in September, we figured we’d show both Weaponry and Gutlocker some love and publish the review!

Walking down a busy road in Central Reading, it would be easy to walk straight passed the After Dark Club without knowing it exists. It’s down a small alleyway with barely any signs. Inside it opens up to potentially one of the best venues in Reading. Although it’s maybe a little off putting before entering, when you do venture in, you realise it’s bloody great. The After Dark is a metaphor for Metal.

Unusually there’s only 3 bands on the bill tonight. When the first band come on the stage the drummer takes his seat in a little box room behind the stage. It’s weird but it doesn’t affect the sound. Thirty Giants (7/10) are technically great. Their sound is somewhere in between Mastodon and Baroness. They kept grabbing me by the arm and running off in different directions before I had a chance to catch my breath, turning good tunes into great songs. The chat in between songs from lead singer Luca really helped the set as the banter between band mates brought a good stage presence to proceedings. Unfortunately the bass was a little too loud which did take away some impact from the awesome riffs and solos being ripped out.

Up next was Imperium (8/10). Lead singer Ben Porter has that immediate look of “front man”. And what a front man. Energizing the crowd, covering every inch of the stage and having a rowdy time as he makes it all look effortless. Imperium have a classic thrash sound which could slip into “heard it all before” territory quite easily but Imperium did not even get close to it. I was engrossed the whole set and it flew by. There’s quite a lot of technical guitar wizardry. Lead guitarist Hardip Sagoo is easily one of the best guitarists I have seen in an unsigned band. Sagoo stands right in the middle of the stage, legs wide, ripping out incredible solo after solo. It was captivating. Not a single bum note was hit in the whole set.

Gutlocker (9/10) take to the stage and get the place jumping straight away. They have a disgustingly brilliant tone to their tunes, it feels like the guitar pulls the sound from the same deep pit of the stomach lead singer Craig McBrearty pulls his voice from. He’s angry, guttural, screeching at points – sometimes it’s like Phil Anselmo (Pantera) is pretending to be Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth). As crazy as that sounds, its brilliant. McBrearty’s range for an unclean vocalist is maddening and very impressive. The stage presence for Gutlocker is engaging. McBrearty gets the crowd involved and the guitar and bass duo of Peter Tucker and Ben Rollinson is a great partnership. Tucker spends a lot of time on the edge of the stage animating every note he plays while Rollinson spins and jumps around. Every once in a while they meet behind McBrearty and goad each other. And even though he’s stuck in that weird little box, Deano Walker brings himself into the action by interacting with his band mates who swing by the ol’ box every now and again. One of the best moments of the night is a cover of Jamiroquai’s Godzilla theme tune “Deeper Underground”. If Jay Kay experiences it he’s going to be gutted he didn’t release this version! The last song of the night is fan favourite “Welcome To F***town”. I’m sure as Gutlocker progress into their career and hit the peaks that are waiting for them this song will wash away into the memories of a time past. But for now it’s fun, bold and huge. McBrearty pulls Luca and Ben from Thirty Giants and Imperium up on stage and also me, your fine reviewer for the night, because I do all the shouting for Reading noise merchants Weaponry. We all help out on the chorus as the band bounce around and finish their set off in an immense, inclusive way. The whole crowd are involved and tonight F***town is Reading, and Reading is Gutlocker’s.

Al Bristow

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *