Joining King Herd and Zac And The New Men at The Station in Cannock were Mystiek and Slim & Blade in what would turn out to be a thrilling four-band lineup.
Mystiek – Slim & Blade
The Station, Cannock – 30 April 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Andy Shaw
Mystiek (pronounced ‘Miss Teek’ to bestow upon them the Lynyrd Skynyrd explanation) are a highly dynamic, exhilarating Alternative Metal Band from Wolverhampton who fuse ’80s Metal with a contemporary edge, not to mention groove. Recently, they have started to make a bit of a name for themselves on various support slots and appearances at mini-festivals across the Midlands.
On each sighting, they get tighter and slicker, too, with this being far and away the most polished and enjoyable set that I have seen from them yet. Frontman Josh’s confidence and presence has come on leaps and bounds. Looking more natural and assured with each outing, he wields the rhythm guitar to enrich the sound only when that extra layer is required.
Main axe-wielding and shredding duties lie very much within the remit of the mesmerising Will Fernyhough. Such a dynamic, technical, yet fluid player and one who performs with the intensity of Steve Harris. These days it is rare for a kind of player who looks like he leapt into a DeLorean circa 1986 and, by some twist of the time-space continuum, has landed in the West Midlands and hit the stage running.
Naïve kicks things off while Dropdee sees them settle into the groove that perfectly typifies their style. Think, if you will, of a super funked Walk This Way but more electrifying. That’s A Shame sees the pace slacken but not the intensity. “Hey, I’m kicking chairs on a pretty day. Yeah, that’s a shame that the weather inside is miserable and grey,” exemplifies the brooding anger before the song roars down the home straight.
The intro to Uneasy possesses what we all love about Metal, while Will’s guitar is set to stun as the number elevates itself to the level of epic. Sympathise precedes Bring Me Down, which has a Testament meets Van Halen groove to it. An AICesque bassline introduces the rifftastically funky groove of Shut Up, which is a booty-shakingly fun way to bring things this segment of the show to an all too premature close.
Fabulously retro yet bang up-to-date, I eagerly await what the future has in store for this promising young outfit and the output they generate.
Slim & Blade
Opening the evening were another West Midlands outfit in the shape of trio Slim & Blade and one that I was unaware of until very recently. Cue some research via streaming services, and I was delighted with the discoveries and looking forward to their set.
The betting on Best Song Title of the Night was open and closed simultaneously with the very first song, the Emo inspired title of If Forrest Gump Had a Gun. The fascinating story behind this song is far too involved to detail here but suffice to say that this was penned with the sole intention of being an opening number. It certainly grabbed the attention.
Without Them is a tremendously infectious slab of melodic riffery with a huge, albeit pained chorus “I don’t cry because they’re gone, I cry for I have to carry on… WITHOUT THEM!” There is always one song that, upon leaving the venue, one discovers that has wormed its way deep into your skull and takes some shifting thereafter. Be it the riff, the melody, the chorus or whatever. Sunday, this was that song.
Make Me Feel had a kind of heavy American indie vibe to it. The intensity of the set gently ramped up as it progressed. A brief instrumental segued into the post-Nirvana sounding My Escape with its massive-riffed chorus.
“There’s a few in from Brownhills this evening, so this one’s for you,” heralded Battle Cry. Such a great anthemic piece which had more than a hint of Unknown Refuge about it. Being a fan of the latter, that is by no means a bad thing. Classic foot to the floor straight ahead rock at its finest.
“You’ve got to sing along with this one. We’re getting tired up here, so we need your help. Besides, you all know it,” introduced their take on Metallica’s Nothing Else Mattress.
A most enjoyable aperitif for what was to follow. Please do check them out. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised.