Gig Review: Svalbard / Zetra / Hidden Mothers / Without Love – The Key Club, Leeds (21st October 2023)

Tonight, the rising Bristol based Svalbard play Leeds. Supported by three other bands, the headline act are promoting their new album, The Weight of the Mask. The tour has seen the band perform in Europe and finish with two dates in the UK, the final date of which being today.

Without Love (c) Jayne Slater

Without Love are a 4-piece band from the North of England, who play fast-paced hardcore metal. The band still seem to be relatively new, with their first tracks on Spotify only being released in 2022.

The band came out as a 3-piece today, missing a guitarist. You couldn’t really tell they were one down, as they held together well and made the most of the extra space. With the band all being stuck behind instruments, including the vocalist, it meant that we couldn’t get any movements other than moshing in place.

It does affect the hype of the crowd in my experience, if the band isn’t moving or jumping up and down it’s hard for the crowd to – but it didn’t stop people from bobbing their heads and clapping and cheering after every song. Everyone in the room made sure they had a good view of the stage by cramping into the oddly formed layout of the venue, regardless of if they were looking to give themselves whiplash tonight.

Hidden Mothers were second on the stage today. I’ve heard much love for the band whether it’s on the local scene Facebook pages or Twitter. The band are described as blackened post-metal, but self described as “merch-core”, as their fans love the merch and it’s always a worry that someone will be at the merch stand when no band member is available to watch it.

Hidden Mothers (c) Jayne Slater

They entered the stage and immediately the crowd was gripped by the ambient noise and heavy riffs. It was clear that there were fans who came out to see this band over the others. The vocalist himself jumped down in the pit with his mic stand, allowing him to walk around with the crowd – at one point disappearing within all the bodies to scream the song with them.

The stage is pretty small in this venue, so the vocalist standing on the floor meant that the instrumentalists had more room to mosh and move around. Though no members were jumping wildly, they were still fulfilling a part of getting the crowd hype without relying on the frontman. The guitarists often having wide stances and moshing their heads to the riffs.

The screams of their harsh vocalist were paired great with the soft vocals of their vocal/guitarist. The crowd were clearly loving it too and as the band announced they had one more song they had heckles from the audience saying “No – two!”, “Ten more!”. This gained smiles from the band and the bassist playfully asking them to shush.

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Zetra (c) Jayne Slater

Zetra are a mysterious band with not much known about them. The stage opened up as Zetra brought on their stands ladened with chains and removed the drum kit (that didn’t belong to our headliner). I didn’t realise the stage could be pulled back this big. The band itself only has two members, a guitarist/vocalist and a keyboardist/backing vocalist. The band dressed up with heavy black and white make up and gothic robes (and in one case no shoes).

They had a rocky start, with issues from one of their cables being faulty. As a result they itself didn’t have time to do the intro they wanted, an ominous foreboding message about the meaning of Zetra, but unfortunately as that audio wrapped up, they were still trying to sort their wires. When they did start playing though, I looked out to the crowd only to see they had moved closer to the stage, now only a single file line for the tog pit.

Zetra definitely came on with a different sound to what I was expecting. Synth paired up with an electric guitar and a melodic type of sound. It was like if an 80s artist was asked to make emo music (the best way to describe it, but by no means is it a bad thing). The vibe could’ve been helped by some lights to match, but the crowd were definitely into the sound, with a cheer after every song and one fan in particular I could see singing the words right at the front of the pit throughout the set.

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Svalbard are a Bristolian 4-piece band that have been on the rise since the great reception to their third album When I Die, Will I Get Better?. They pride themselves on their raw and emotional lyrics mixed with heavy riffs and drums that give the music lovers a cathartic experience when listened to.

Svalbard (c) Jayne Slater

If Zetra saw the crowd closing in on the stage, then the anticipation for Svalbard eradicated the rest of the distance. As I was shooting Svalbard, I could feel myself being whipped by the long hair of the crowd goers. Honestly, I’m not even mad! Go off, guys, and have a blast! A concert is for the fans at the end of the day.

It’s not a shock to hear the crowd were wild for this band. Though I didn’t see any moshpits, most fans were content with just absolutely thrashing their heads on the spot. This only further encouraged by the band’s front woman who, whenever she wasn’t singing, would be throwing her hair back and forth.

Svalbard themselves were shocked by the eagerness of the fans. Mentioning how they couldn’t think of a better place to end their tour and often exclaiming “Wow!” At the reception. When introducing and giving thanks to the members, the vocalist gave a shoutout to Liam, their guitarist and vocalist, which then encouraged a “LIAM” chant from the crowd.

The band wrapped their set with “Eternal Spirit”, and left the stage to a multitude of cheers and woos. This marks the end of their current headline tour, but with the release of their latest album you won’t be short of things to do til they next announce another tour date.

I would recommended checking out all the performing bands of tonight if you haven’t, as they all have great energies around them and each band have a different style that they presented tonight. This was definitely a great way to forget about the biblical downpour we’ve all been suffering from recently, and a great way to listen to some new music on the way.

Pics by Jayne Slater

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