Live Review: Confessions Of A Traitor w/Payne, Reawaken and Face The Wolves at The Lounge Bar in Alton!

It’s a Friday night at the start of May and The Lounge Bar in Alton, a venue run by the powers behind Radar Festival, is calling like a siren’s song with promise of beer and mosh pits. Fortunately they have a mighty fine selection from Signature Brew, including Lo-Fi alcohol free pale ale so seeing as we’re on migraine prevention strategy 101 and driving, it’s a tasty treat without any of the fun. The headliner tonight is one we have been lucky enough to witness on multiple occasions including at Tech-Fest and the final show of the much loved Carcer City, but how long that will be the case with the high calibre of their recorded work and recent shows in the US we don’t know, so we’re making the most of it…

Anyone who knows the history of Kissing Candice will know that it was producer Jeremy Comitas who worked with vocalist Joey Simpson on his first EP “Murder” that convinced him to go full band and not play shows on his own with a laptop. Hailing from Southampton, Payne [6/10] is what Simpson could have been, a lone gun fighter stalking the stage and working his way through a set that crosses styles between heavy end Metalcore and Deathcore. What’s intriguing about it is that the recorded work sounds impressive but on stage, without a light show or any projected images or anything, what you see is very much what you get, a kind of level above Metal Karaoke. It has to be said that the vocal performance is impressive in the unclean ranges, which reach Slam levels of brutality at points,  however the cleans are a little strained. So while you have to admire the courage of doing the set all on your own, it feels hard to get into and as if there is something missing. Incidentally, Confessions Of A Traitor vocalist Stephen MacConville was a guest on a track by Omega Initiative, Payne’s former band.

The stage was completely empty during the previous set, so Southampton Alternative Metal act Reawaken [7/10] literally have to assemble the drum kit before they can play. They endure a few technical issues early on but power through a set of tracks which bring to mind the long running Fearless Records Punk Goes Pop series with Flyleaf and The Pretty Reckless influences. Fun as well has having some hard hitting lyrical narratives, tonight they don’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously but they have new material in the works and air a brand new song with a surprise rap flow in it that adds a whole new dimension to their sound. Older bangers “Like Me” and “Give ’em Hell” makes tonight feel fresh even if their set feels like it’s been cut short and on this evidence their future could be very bright. If the electrics hold up that is.

Face The Wolves [8/10] describe themselves as an ethereal yet feral electronic Metalcore duo, the reality of which is a vocalist, a drummer and a backing track but what that doesn’t convey is the drama of the performance which sees both members creating sounds greater than the sum of their parts. They sound like a raw, emotive Kidney Thieves or Bjork on steroids with The Prodigy vibes, giving a powerful and captivating performance that draws you in with dark and cathartic qualities that are in stark contrast to some of their colder, primitive and more Industrial sounds. At times they burn like fire and at others they freeze like ice with the contrast so great it threatens to split the skull in the process. Vocals are sung, screamed and rapped with grime flow delivered while stalking the stage with a spleen to vent, impressing with both range and control while the energy they transmit seriously infectious.

There are two rules at a Confessions Of A Traitor [10/10] show. Rule one: Everybody smiles. Rule two: Everybody dances. Non negotiable. Armed with 2022’s album “Punishing Myself Before God Does” the band are a four piece with bassist Tony Nagle having stepped down due to family life. Strangely enough, he’s in the audience watching the show tonight and is on the receiving end of some banter from vocalist Stephen MacConville as the guitarists tune up and towel down between songs. It’s all in jest of course, they’d have their friend back in a heartbeat but with another US run coming up, it would be a big ask. Sonically the band are as tight as ever tonight and blitz through everything from the title track of the aforementioned album to “Peacekeeper” and “Forever Hollow” while a particularly fierce rendition of new single “Hail Mary” is enough to singe the eyebrows. MacConville drops off the stage to be amongst the people on several occasions during the set, avoiding getting involved in a mosh pit before setting off a wall of death. We’re joined by Stone Soup guitarist Chris Gilday in headbangers anonymous as guitarist and vocalist Jacob Brand earns his keep with more involvement than the last time we witnessed them. All in all, tonight is an utter triumph for a band who have long been England’s best kept secret and they deserve so much more…

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