Live Review: Galactic Empire, Sithu Aye & Epic Fail at The Globe – 7th February 2017

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  • Bands:
    Galactic Empire
    Sithu Aye
    Epic Fail

    Venue: The Globe, 125 Albany Rd, Cardiff CF24 3NS
    Date: 7th February
    Promoter: MJR/Artery Global

    Not content with conquering a galaxy far, far away, Darth Vader has now set his sights on our humble planet. Rather than use lightsabers to fulfil his plans, however, he has decided to channel the Dark Side of The Force into heavy metal music. Galactic Empire were formed in Pennsylvania by a group of friends who enjoy heavy metal and Star Wars cosplay. This is all you need to know. Having crowdfunded their first album [1], they are now touring it across the world, and they stopped off in Cardiff on 7th February to give the audience at The Globe a taste of the Dark Side of heavy metal.

    The Globe has a tradition of allowing local acts to open for small-time bands, and tonight’s show saw local metalcore crew Epic Fail clamber on stage to kick things off. Sounding like a mix of early Avenged Sevenfold and Children of Bodom, the youthful band suffered some serious stage-fright due in part to the unexpected absence of their keyboardist, a problem which had arisen that morning. Compounding the problem, the sound of the keyboard was unfortunately lost beneath the weighty noise of the guitars and bad sound-mixing. However, neither the aforementioned issues, nor the awkwardly-obvious lack of stage experience, stopped them putting heart and soul into their performance. If they manage to pull a more distinct and unique sound out of their influences and seriously stick at it, they will definitely be ones to watch in years to come. The lead guitarist’s fretwork, and impassioned vocals – both clean and screamed – were extremely impressive, as was the group’s chemistry: for all that they may have been nervous on stage, they did not let this hinder the quality of the work displayed.

    Main support came in the form of Scottish prog artist Sithu Aye, creator of self-styled ‘happy progressive metal.’ Happy is indeed the right word. His brand of instrumental tech- and djent-flavoured prog is laden with some of the most uplifting melodies I have ever heard. The cosmological theme to his work allows the music to cast the listener adrift in dreamy soundscapes, in which they journey across far-flung galaxies and distant planets like the intrepid explorers of an Arthur C. Clarke novel. Delivering his prog in a more succinct package than clear influence Plini, Sithu Aye manages to raise his music to a higher quality than many of his fellow progsters. He is definitely a musician whose star is on the rise, and I firmly believe that if more music were as joyous as this, the world would truly be a happier place.

    Although Sithu himself plays all the instruments on his record, he did bring session musicians on stage with him. This did nothing to diminish the beauty of the music on display. Their tight chemistry helped deliver a rapturous performance of some of his best songs, finished off with a gorgeous rendition of ‘And Here’s to Many More’ from his first album Cassini – recently remastered for its fifth anniversary, which shows the act’s relative longevity to the scene.

    It was not long, however, before the audience felt themselves in the grip of the Dark Side. The lights went down, and Boba Fett himself appeared ominously behind the drumkit. A Stormtrooper, a Death trooper, and an Imperial Guard marched on in formation before Darth Vader himself strode onstage. They launched into the ‘Main Theme’, and Cardiff fell under the sway of Galactic Empire. No fuss, no fancy stage show, just Darth Vader headbanging with his Imperial minions. Nerd heaven.

    Half the success of the Star Wars movie franchise comes from John Williams’ iconic, epic scores, and the heavy metal remixes displayed by Galactic Empire do a great justice. The actual sound mix was a heavier version of Sithu Aye’s tech-prog, focussed on the core themes of Williams’ scores. Condensing the orchestral grandeur of the movies’ soundtracks into heavy metal songs is no mean feat, but Galactic Empire pulled it off. They should, ideally, let this be a springboard into other soundtrack variations – anyone up for a heavy metal Harry Potter? – otherwise they run the risk of falling into obscurity as a one-trick pony. That said, the hilarious comedic novelty of being able to headbang to the Cantina Band song is brilliant, and will carry them quite a way, but it would be brilliant to watch them continue to conquer the galaxy with other movies.

    A shaky start did little to diminish the brightness of the bands on stage, and as their stars rise, they all deserve to be watched with great interest. May the force be with them all.

    Footnotes:
    1. Kickstarter campaign

  • Epic Fail
    Intro/Shadows on Stone
    Fallen Walls
    Edge of the World
    Night of the Living
    Free My Soul
    Last Breath Of Life
    Intus Demonata

    Sithu Aye
    Mandalay
    Skye
    Particles
    Collide
    Messenger
    Transient Transistors
    And Here’s To Many More

    Galactic Empire
    Main Theme
    The Imperial March
    The Force Theme
    Ben’s Death/Tie Fighter Attack
    Across The Stars
    Battle of the Heroes
    Cantina Band
    The Forest Battle
    The Throne Room/End Title
    Duel of The Fates

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Nick is talking about music. It's best just to let him.

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