Skindred headlined the stunning venue by the sea that is De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, East Sussex. It’s a mixed and seemingly unconventional bill with hardcore doom band Haest and gothic doomers Grave Lines. Remarkably though, it worked for the sold-out crowd who were raving about their new discoveries as well as old favourites.
Opening up the show is the hardcore quartet from Hastings, Haest who released their first EP in 2018 and infuse sludgy stoner riffs into upbeat punky hardcore to make for a groovy Black Sabbath X Black Flag hybrid.
Next up is gloomy doom outfit Grave Lines, founded in 2015 and steadily rising in popularity in the ranks of the doom scene with members from Brighton and London, who are also involved in various projects covering the heaviest doom, crust and death metal genres. Playing just one previously released song which is also one of their oldest, the quartet treat us (the majority likely being a new audience) to the heaviest and gloomiest tracks they have dredged up so far, all off the highly anticipated new album to be released in early 2022. Injecting some serious misery into the far-too-happy atmosphere Grave Lines embrace the form of a gothic creature, brandishing a nihilistic and miserable-as-fuck crusty gloom. Forlorn and enigmatic vocalist Jake Harding stands draped in rags and despair, headbutting the mic and dripping in blood from new and old wounds. His despondent vocals range from soothing and soulful to tortured and angst-ridden and rise above the ominous rumbling bass lines from Stgr’n Matt and gargantuan but groovy riffs from Oliver Hill who looms menacingly over the crowd while Sam Chase (who arguably wins the most animated face contest) gleefully pounds the drums to create a thunderous backdrop.
It’s time for Newport’s reggae metal veterans Skindred who released their first album back in 2002 following the break up of vocalist Benji Webbe’s Dubwar. Skindred have stuck with their original line-up over the years and have still got it, especially according to the packed venue and exhilarated crowd who get exactly what they want – all the classics and infectious anthems from over the almost twenty years. Strutting onstage to AC\DC‘s ‘Thunderstruck’ which morphs into a dubstep rendition of the Imperial March, riling up the crowd. They open with the poignantly political ‘Stand For Something’ and the classic and comparatively heavy ‘Rat Race’. The following spectacle of a performance is a booming and eclectic intermingling of social commentary in the form of nu-metal and everything from rap, dub and jungle to hardcore punk. All of the aforementioned entices the excitable audience into grooving, jumping, punching the air and singing along en masse at charismatic lead singer Benji Webbe’s behest. The vocalist’s jubilant and legendary vocals are beefed up with dynamic drumming from powerhouse Arya Goggin and the riffing from ZZ Top lookalike Mikey Demus has a heavy metallic edge while Daniel Pugsley slaps his bass with wild abandon. After an ongoing explosive applause and pleading for an encore the Welsh rockers return with hit track ‘Warning’, Webbe gets the audience to do the Newport Helicopter, which (for those not in the know) involves frantically swinging a t-shirt or jumper around your head, this popular cunning stunt of course resulting in lots of half-naked sweaty torsos and manic grins. It really is a site to behold – as they say, old gimmicks die hard.
Words and images: Abi Coulson of Darktones Photography