Last year, Will Haven suggested in interviews that while making their latest album, ‘Muerte’, that they entertained the possibility that it could be their last. But, at this point, it’s hard to imagine that may have even been an idea.
Will Haven must seem to not get enough of the UK; tonight we bear witness to the London stop of their second UK tour since the release of ‘Muerte’. Tonight sees them play to their relatively small but very dedicated fanbase in a somewhat tucked away corner of Regent’s Park at 229.
Opening things up are Cambridge instrumental three-piece, The Grey , who provide atmospheric but weighty post-metal close to the likes of Pelican, as well as Isis to some degree. They manage to keep the audience intrigued, with the crowd filling up throughout the set, and they certainly create a massive sound for a three-piece.
Typically, their pieces evolve from a more subtle approach, sometimes assisted by samples, into some very hulky riffing sections, and this band prove to be a solid opening act for what’s to come.
It only seems fitting that Will Haven are playing alongside a band as hard to pin down as themselves in the form of Conjurer , who only seem to be going from strength-to-strength off the heels of last year’s debut full-length album, ‘Mire’. The band get straight into first gear with ‘Thankless’, which only serves as a teaser before the devastating ‘Choke’ ups the ante later on.
Conjurer go about proceedings in an understated but quietly confident manner, and the set only progresses throughout. As is the case on the record, even with an offering full of riffs and stand-out moments, the whole thing feels like a build-up to ‘Hadal’, which sees bassist Conor Marshall moving into the crowd for the monstrous riff that ends the song; they’re at their most powerful when they go for the full-on sludge sections. Based on this, the follow-up to ‘Mire’ can’t come any sooner.
And so to tonight’s headliners, Will Haven , who have always seemed to have the underdog tag attached to them throughout their career, yet anyone familiar with them knows what to expect. After a sample which helps to bring the tension, there’s then the instantaneous release.
The band open with a number of tracks from their much-loved ‘Carpe Diem’, with the title-track holding plenty of weight. We’re reminded that they took as much from their contemporaries in Deftones as they did from bands like Neurosis, with their genre-defying alt metal sounding as ferocious as ever. The samples and keyboards help to bring some atmosphere, providing another layer to their wall of sound.
Later on, we’re greeted with numbers from their 1997 debut, ‘El Diablo’, with ‘Stick Up Kid’ and ‘Ego’s Game’ rolling back the years. Following on from ‘Fresno’, taken from ‘WHVN’, ‘I’ve Seen My Fate’ gets a strong crowd reaction as per usual, forever sounding powerful. There’s little crowd interaction from Grady Avenell, but it works for the brooding, yet savage aspect to Will Haven.
Even if tonight’s audience are loving all the classics, it could be said that they rely heavily on their older material throughout, but songs like the more angular ‘Winds Of Change’ and the more instantaneous ‘Hewed With The Brand’, both taken from last year’s ‘Muerte’, are aired later on in the set. They both prove to sit impressively alongside everything else, and guitarist Jeff Irwin even manages to make his way over to the merch desk for the latter stages of the set, proving that tonight’s show is very involved indeed.
To close the set, another classic from ‘Carpe Diem’, ‘Saga’, is aired, with a somewhat refreshing lack of an encore. Tonight has been a greatly entertaining evening in the company of two cutting-edge bands from metal, past and present.