LIVE REVIEW: Will Haven @ Tufnell Park Dome, London (02/11/2018)

Credit: Promo

Date: November 2nd 2018
Venue: Tufnell Park Dome, London
Support: Palm Reader / The Grey
Website: None available


Ah, the Dome, big brother of next door’s Boston Music Rooms. It may lack the rock ‘n’ roll cool of the similarly sized Underworld in Camden, or the glamour of the Islington Academy, but it manages to retain a charm all of its own.

Perhaps it’s thanks to its consistent reputation for hosting the freshest, fiercest bands in the scene – Chelsea Grin and Touché Amoré have both played here recently – but it seems the perfect spot for California noise rock veterans Will Haven to play, accompanied by none other than Nottingham’s finest, Palm Reader.

Opening tonight are The Grey [7], an instrumental trio from Cambridge. Their tracks are doomy, groovy, riff-packed, and begging to be screamed over so badly that you can almost swear you hear it. They seem to do just fine without a vocalist though; drummer Steve Moore takes on ‘frontman’ duties by addressing the audience, and James Pergande‘s bass is so impending that you fear it could cause an incident that would need to be measured on a Richter scale.

There’s some distinct melody in parts, but predominantly, this is ferociously, thunderously heavy. If that’s your bag – and if you’re at a Will Haven show, it probably is – then look no further.

Palm Reader [7], as usual, are a force to be reckoned with. With a cool new intro under their belt, they power through a set consisting largely of material from their excellent recent album, ‘Braille’. “I’ve got a cold and fucked my voice up,” frontman Josh Mckeown apologies, and whilst he does seem to struggle with the cleans a little on melancholic epic ‘Inertia’, his screams are as earth shattering as ever.

Dan Olds proves once again why he’s worthy of his nomination for Best New Drummer, particularly on the techy ‘Internal Winter’. Whilst it might not be Palm Reader‘s best performance, if things are still this good at their weakest, they’ve got nothing to worry about.

Headliners Will Haven [7] also released a critically acclaimed album this year. The noisemakers have been making headlines for all the right reasons with sixth record ‘Muerte’, their first full-length since 2012, and it’s attracted a truckload of fans to the Dome tonight to see how the new material will sound live. Surprisingly, the band opt to open with older tracks ‘Fresno’ and ‘Carpe Diem’, though this doesn’t seem to bother the crowd one bit as they scream along with frontman Grady Avenell on the latter’s gravelly verses.

In fact, the only taste of new material comes in the form of ‘Muerte’‘s opening track, ‘Hewed With The Brand’, the quiet intro of which quickly slams into punishing metalcore riffs from Jeff Irwin, and a later appearance of ‘Winds Of Change’ and brooding slow-burner, ‘The Son’. Given it was billed as a ‘Muerte’ tour, it’s a great shame that more newer songs didn’t get a look in during the 90 minute set – even single ‘El Sol’ was omitted, and it seems like a missed opportunity.

Still, there’s plenty here to please long-term fans. From ‘Stick Up Kid’, taken from the band’s debut album back in 1997, to ‘Choke’ and ‘Saga’, it has to be said that there’s something for everyone, regardless of which era got you into this band. There’s even a curveball in the form of a cover of Faith No More‘s ‘Jizzlobber’, which takes everyone by surprise.

Tonight, we’re reminded of what an impressive arsenal Will Haven have in their two-decade-long-career spanning set, but also reminded of the fresh new talent that’s hot on their heels.