Move over rock, metal and punk, the New Grave scene is the exciting, new genre on the rise in Britain. Living at the heart of the chaos is Manchester metal horror clan The Dead XIII, who have had quite an incredible year. Rising from unsigned obscurity, the quintet released their debut album ‘Catacombs‘ to unexpectedly high acclaim last summer. Beginning their 2016 by supporting Aiden on their farewell tour, The Dead XIII show more power and charisma at their headline show.
In an evening dedicated to supporting local bands and live music in general, Wakefield rockers Curses and Cures and Bournemouth’s metalcore triumph Griever set up proceedings nicely. But many bands would ironically pale in comparison to The Dead XIII, with their typical brand of deathly, white complexions. Priding themselves in providing an eclectic metal/punk/synth extravaganza, the band clamber onto the cramped stage at the Milo Bar.
Wasting no time leaving the room in silence, a deep, imposing voice booms from wall to wall before the guitar intro to ‘Frostbite‘ blasts into everybody’s ears. What was missing however when vocalist Kurt Blackshard opened his mouth were his delectably dark vocals: his microphone wasn’t working. But a few seconds of fiddling with wires, the singer was back in business and soon made up for lost time. Shaking off the technical hitch, the band blazed through ‘Catacombs‘ classics ‘Daemons‘ and ‘Can’t Escape the Grave‘. Hearing guitarist Symon Strange’s backing vocals on ‘Lay Siege to Hell’ was definitely a highlight along with the unexpected synth adding depth to the already powerful track.
It might seem daunting being faced with a formidable group of men in shocking paint and masks, but The Dead XIII are in fact the friendliest lads you’ll ever meet. The engagement with the audience, particularly from Symon, Kurt and guitarist Ste Mahoney was wonderful to watch. It was easy to see these were dedicated fans at this show, who were familiar with the band and it made for an amicable atmosphere. In short, the banter was rife and made the awkward situation of Symon running off stage because he had broken his favourite guitar all the more humorous.
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The Dead XIII certainly haven’t forgotten about their roots by reliving haunting tracks from their previous EP ‘Creatures of the Night‘. Kurt’s menacing vocals and screaming in ‘Monster Rehab‘ were particularly captivating. He has an intriguing way of drawing the audience in with his eyes as well as his vocals. A highlight was guitarist Ste’s riffs coupled with drummer Spike Owen’s efforts in ‘Stage Fright‘, which were so powerful, it could break through your ribs and resuscitate even the most comatose of folk.
As the set drew to a close, the band hammered out ‘Haunter‘, ‘Catacombs‘ and ‘The Greatest Mistake‘ along with album opener “XIII”. Anyone walking past the venue at that point hearing the words “thirteen ways to die” being screamed may well have been confused and frankly a little frightened. But the crowd loved it and embraced the chaos in a mini mosh pit. When it came to the encore, the audience were given a choice, but undoubtedly the overriding victor was ‘Be-Were’. With the heavy riffs having a bouncy, infectious quality, The Dead XIII undeniably left the best until last.
Not many bands can pull off playing almost a full album at a live show, but The Dead XIII achieve this seamlessly with ‘Catacombs‘. When all your tracks are packed with surprises, riffs that punch you in the gut and war-cry lyrics, you’d be mad to leave any of these songs at home.
This The Dead XIII article was written by Evie Myers, a GIGsoup contributor. Lead photo by Evie Myers. Edited by Zoe Anderson