The intimacy of smaller gig venues creates an atmosphere that cannot easily be replicated with larger venues. The barriers between the band and audience are (metaphorically and physically) removed creating a friendlier and more personal interactive experience. Nights Tribunal and White Mammoth are both found mixing with the crowd prior to their performances. They clearly have a lot of friends and fans here and it’s great to see the support for these two growing bands from Chester.
Nights Tribunal (6) are first to take to the stage. Considering the size of the stage and speaker set up, the trio’s sound is reasonably well balanced. The heavy, distorted texture of the guitar and bass creates a full sound. The vocalist has an interesting edge to his voice which is distinctive in the trio’s unique sound. Ranging through higher and lower pitches, there is an element of Muse’s vocal style in there. Standing near the front of the stage the vocals come across well in the mix with the guitars, but it appears audience members near the back of the venue are struggling to hear. Unfortunately, this is often the way with support acts with the sound mixing focused on the main act. Regardless the first track of their set warms the audience up nicely and members of the crowd are already dancing in full swing.
Further into their set, Nights Tribunal keep up the high energy levels with funky beats and bouncing chord progressions. The heavier sections are interspersed with lead guitar riffs containing less distortion adding some alt rock styles into their sound. The treble levels on the guitar were slightly too high at times and this came through more when using feedback as a segue between tracks. As Nights Tribunal performed their penultimate track, disaster – somehow the bassist manages to snap his lowest string. This is certainly an achievement. Considering how energetically he plays his instrument and dances around the stage it is perhaps not too surprising. Fortunately, their last track is more mellow and can be performed minus the E string. Performing such a calm song following a run of energetic tracks appears unusual for a set list order as many bands wish to end their performance with a bang, however, considering the circumstances this worked in their favour.
As the evening draws on, White Mammoth (8) take to the stage for their headline performance. Their sound is really well balanced with the distorted texture of the guitars blending well to create a large sound. Frontman Ben Rogers interchanges harsh and clean vocals seamlessly taking their performance to another level. The harmonized vocal sections added by drummer Sam Rogers enhance the vocal line against the heavier instrumentation. The start to their set is very strong, so strong in fact that a mini mosh-pit forms before the stage and remains until their set concludes.
White Mammoth’s set list becomes progressively progressive as it progresses. These prog-metallers develop the melody lines of the guitars and bass creating a detailed sound with each sound layer complementing the others. All of the instruments remain balanced in their parts; guitar motifs, bass riffs, vocals and percussion are not competing to be heard but combine to create an incredibly atmospheric sound. Their performance is of a very high quality especially being located in such an intimate venue. White Mammoth’s final track, Illusion Of Progress, forms a great ending to their performance. The catchy guitar riff intro leads into a gentle build up – this creates a sense of suspense and intrigue without becoming repetitive or overly drawn out. Dissonant notes appearing in the melody signals the change into the heavier sections of the track. The audience are still dancing and the mosh pit remains in full force. This final track merges a variety of instrumental and vocal textures and demonstrates the high quality of White Mammoth’s songwriting.
These two growing bands, whilst still in the early stage of their careers, have great potential. Their performances really showed off their skills and White Mammoth are easily at the stage where they could perform at larger venues. With Nights Tribunal soon to be releasing their debut EP and new music on the way from White Mammoth, it will be great to see how their music grows with them.
Before their set, we caught up for a chat with the members of White Mammoth.
Where did White Mammoth begin?
Ben Rodgers (vocals / guitars): In Chester. There was previous members and we all met in uni and all that, so at Chester Uni.
So, you’ve stayed quite local then?
Ben: Yeah, well I guess, kind of, yeah, we have branched out now; now with new members and that we’ve branched out to Liverpool and stuff like that, so yeah.
Do you get gigs quite easily?
Ben: Not too much round Chester, more around Liverpool really. I mean, that being said though we do mostly do here in Chester. We’ve got one [gig] in The Saddle [the local rock pub]. We’ve played in The Saddle before [but] Chester doesn’t have much for us, I guess.
Richie Parkhouse (bass): I think it’s the thing of there’s more places to play in Liverpool, but you get more offers from the same places in Chester, if that makes sense.
Ben: Yeah and it’s good for metal, Liverpool’s got more of a scene for metal than Chester does.
Sam Rodgers (drums): Yeah.
Where do you guys get your inspiration from for songwriting?
Ben: Mastodon, Gojira, The Ocean.
Ben: Yeah, TesseracT, Trivium, I dunno loads of stuff, loads of stuff really. It’s like, little bits of everything.
Do you write songs collaboratively as a band together or individually?
Ben: It’s done in isolation really.
Richie: Isolation and alteration.
Have you got any new music coming out?
Ben: Yeah, yeah, we’ve about to start playing putting some new tunes like one that Richie wrote that we like so yeah, yeah, we’ll be adding more to our repertoire.
Calvin Williams (guitar): I’m also expanding the catalogue as well, should be going into recording and getting some thoughts down.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Calvin: [We’ve] got some stuff thought out.
So, you’re all ready for tonight’s gig?
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Calvin: Yeah, I’m buzzin’.
Awesome, I hope you have a great gig guys, thank you for the interview.
Words and interview by Holly Royle