With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic putting the world in a state of alert, inciting panic buying in supermarkets and pseudo-apocalypse comments on social media, nothing seems more apt than a bill of bands who sound like the end of the world in all of the right ways.
Fresh faced angry boys Cruelty  kick off what could be, at least for the next few weeks, one of the last full tours that runs through Manchester that doesn’t end up getting cancelled. Vocalist Shaafi Parvez clearly has sheer conviction in his voice and his delivery, pacing back and forth onstage whilst his impassion yells beckon in more and more to the slowly filling room.
Their brand of metallic hardcore is abrasive and in your face, and the likes of ‘Witch’ certainly pack a punch. There are moments where the rest of the band get these urges to let themselves go too, and with some technical dexterity shining through here and there, there’s a change for Cruelty to thrust themselves forwards if they let themselves go a little bit more.
Palm Reader  are up next, who not long ago dropped a split covers EP with Conjurer as a stop gap between 2018’s acclaimed ‘Braille’ and its eagerly-awaited follow-up. No said covers rear their heads tonight, but after the crushing one-two of ‘Internal Winter’ and ‘Always Darkest’ kicking off their set, it’s hard even for newcomers to not want to sink their teeth into this Woking lot.
The quintet throw a new song in the mix called ‘Stay Down’ mid-set, to come from what they say is their recently finished fourth record. “It’s a fast one” shares frontman Josh Mckeown before they pounce into it, and he’s not wrong. The manic number is a worthwhile peek into what they’ve been cooking up, and if this is any indication of what to expect then it’d be criminal to not see Palm Reader soar to heights they’ve been deserving for years now.
In recent years, Employed To Serve  have been cited by many as one of the most exciting new bands in metal that the UK has to offer right now, and that’s absolutely correct. Even just three full-lengths deep into a career catalogue they’ve got many tyrant built tracks in their arsenal, and tonight most of them come from last year’s ‘Eternal Forward Motion’.
The title-track opens proceedings and sets the scene of carnage that ensues. Even in a room that’s a little sparse in areas, most likely due to concerns held by some of catching coronavirus, the heavy hitting outfit take a strangle hold of the crowd and make the room their own for the remainder of the evening.
‘Dull Ache Behind My Eye’ gets the adrenaline and fists a-pumping, ‘Beneath It All’ is as animalistic and gritty live as it is on record, the bounce of ‘Owed Zero’ flows from the floor below the stage through to the bar at the back, and the amount of people roaring back the opening refrains of ‘Harsh Truth’ is impressive.
Cuts from their 2017 breakthrough ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ also make their way into the set too. ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’ and its groove is one of most head bang inducing numbers you’ll ever hear, and the encore one-two closer of ‘Good For Nothing’ and ‘Platform 89’ ensures this quintet remain atop their esteemed pedestal.
It’s just a matter of time before Employed To Serve rise through the ranks considerably once again, all the while everyone else is still playing catch-up.