THE BLED+ Fear Before The March Of Flames+ The Fall Of Troy. Zodiac, Oxford. 26.11.05

This is like a line up of the least fashionable fashion-core bands ever. Sure, members of The Fall Of Troy are wearing jeans so tight you can almost see through them and there are plenty of foot-long black fringes milling about the place but none of the music tonight is easy, predictable, or wedged with crowd-pleasing, sing-a-long choruses.

Despite their trouser choices The Fall Of Troy are awesome. They embellish their arty, messy rock with metallic jams, heavy breakdowns and a confidence verging on arrogance, all the while flailing around so hard they look like they’re going to pass out. In fact, singer/guitarist Thomas Erak, obviously believes he’s some sort of gift to the stage; break-dancing, improvising solos and diving into the crowd.

Those who got here early to hear warped versions of already mad tracks like ‘I Just Got This Symphony Goin’’, ‘Mouths Like Sidewinder Missiles’ and ‘Part One’, excitedly lap up all his efforts and just about duck his swinging instrument.

Compared to the devoted if diminutive reception the ‘Troy trio receive, Fear Before The March Of Flames face a massive lack of interest. For all the throwing about of gangly bodies, playing of fitful, intense metal and even a preview of new material they can only muster a cripplingly ordinary set.

The band do fight hard to make a connection for a few tracks but just don’t look as if they are having any fun; and this is only the second night of the tour. Their bad mood is catching and the bar is the busiest it will be all night.

The Bled arrive on stage without explosions or fire but moving with the assurance of headliners, quickly dragging people away from their pints with an overpowering mix of raw emotion and steely precision.

Far tighter than at their last visit downstairs here, the band are now not afraid to really kick out the jams and are able to do it sounding better than ever.

More measured wares, like first single ‘My Assassin’ from their new ‘Found In The Flood’ album, sit well with heavier, older material and James Munoz’s cracked voice is clear, powerful and just as impressive live as on record. His rattling strain remains the perfect compliment to The Bled’s layers of feedback, ferocity and bludgeoning melody.

Sometimes the aggression is lost in a mish-mash of clattering drums and grungey guitar (‘Hotel Coral Essex’), elsewhere it seems like it’s supposed to sound that way (‘Red Wedding’), but it’s all engaging stuff.

Ok, so the music tonight is intricate and demanding at times but isn’t it great when frontmen have more to do than mention their MySpace accounts.

also appears at new-noise

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