Weapons of Mass BeliefEdit this event
Entering the packed Barfly steamroom for another Monday night session, the first thing to catch my eye was the artwork draped around the walls. Two large backdrops printed with religious imagery hung from the far wall and the back wall behind the stage. The latter bore a blurred crucifix, the cover artwork of Martin Grech**’s second album, Unholy, which is forthcoming this month.
Before hearing sounds from Grech’s latest collection of tortured tunes, support band Weapons of Mass Belief** bounded to the stage, and although few songs from their set made an impact on the bored crowd present, their frentic energy at least made sure the rider awaiting them was truly earned. Songs such as ‘Blackline Ninja’ and ‘Fuckhouse’ bristle with energy when performed live, with the rap-rock hybrid employed by the band envoking memories of early Rage Against The Machine and Beatsie Boys. However, after half the set the lack of variation does pose the question as to whether WOMB have any other shots to fire from their arsenal. Having to win over a crowd who have paid to see the headliner certainly make things harder as well.
Martin Grech’s first album, 'Open Heart Zoo', found it’s way into many people’s record collections thanks to the title track’s appearance on a car advert, but due to its schizophrenic palette of Middle Eastern soundscapes and operatic vocals, it position in said collections is probably towards the bottom of the pile. Grech’s uncertainty as to where his musical path is taking him is probably the reason why, his similarities with other artists harming any real chance he has from standing out from the British rock crowd. The majority of the set is a showcase of songs from his new album, Unholy, and it reveals a harder edged sound to Grech which isn’t totally unfamiliar. Whereas Open Heart Zoo evoked memories Matt Bellamy and Thom Yorke, the songs from Unholy remind you of one man: Trent Reznor. Yep, except with the latest Nine Inch Nails effort finally on the shelves, many listeners unfamiliar with Grech’s work might be put of by such eerie similarities. In fact, many of the tracks on Unholy veer toward ‘Downward Spiral’ territory, which doesn’t help Grech gee up the crowd when it really just sounds like something we’ve all heard before.
‘Guiltless_’ allows Grech the chance to wring out his emotions in front for everyone present to see. It’s imposing at first, with the singers’ backing band lurking in the background before bursting into life when Grech’s angelic voice begins to let fly. However, after a while it soon grows weary, and starts to resemble a re-birthing demonstration at an alternative therapy conference instead of a gig, Grech totally lost in the moment, arms twisted and disjointed while he cries to the gods above. Although it seems Grech is trying his best in front of us, the fact that many of the crowd begin to leave halfway through the gig isn’t such a good sign. For all the talent the 22-year-old has up his sleeves, and on the evidence shown on Unholy talent is definitely something he has in abundance for an artist of his age, it’s a shame he chooses cloak it with layers of diet-industrial beats and guitars, masking the man behind it all. Once again, we’re left wondering just who Martin Grech is.
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