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Live Review: Grappler – The Old Blue Last, London – 17/01/13

We caught Grappler at the Old Blue Last. Find out why they’re one of the most exciting bands in the UK hardcore scene.

Band: Grappler
Supporting: Black Shapes and Up River
Venue: The Old Blue Last, London
Date: 17/01/13

Hardcore is a funny old thing. The scene is littered with this tough-guy attitude, constant competition between the fans over who is more ‘fashionable’ and endless bickering over the latest trend. Thankfully Grappler displayed none of this at their show.

A small but healthy crowd assembles with a few die hard fans at the front while singer Jon relentlessly orders people to push in closer. As the first song kicks in the intensity of the music becomes very much apparent. There is no watering down, just aggression and what separates Grappler from the rest is how this is achieved. Blisteringly heavy riffs and violent screams from Jon pushes up the ferocity before dropping down to softer, more relaxed melodies. It’s these fluctuations within the set that puts everything into context.

The emotion that’s put into every single lyric is really what made the performance so incredible. There’s no pretence, no exaggeration; just honesty. Immediately it is clear that every word coming from the singer’s mouth, he believes in whole-heartedly. Touching on personal issues in music is nothing new but the delivery and sincerity coming from Jon drove home the negativity into the crowd leaving you no choice but to have empathy with him.

As the few members of the crowd grabbed the mic to scream lyrics back at the band, there was a huge sense of apprecation on both sides. Not only because of the size of the venue but because of the interaction, there was a unity. Everyone was in it together which is a rare sight these days. No egotism or sense of higher being enabled such a strong connection.

Musically, Grappler weren’t the tightest band ever but it didn’t really matter. The haunting, quiet melodies sucked you in before the raging hardcore knocked you back proving their musicianship with the crafting of an enthralling set. This was undoubtedly one of the best performances and actually one of the most surprising there has been in the UK hardcore scene for a long time.

9/10

Reviewer: Jack Birch

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