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Shattering Xpectations: Xentrix Live In Reading

Event: Xentrix: 35th Anniversary Shattered Existence UK Tour 2024
Written by: omne metallum
Published: 21.02.2024

British thrash doesn’t receive quite the plaudits that its German and American counterparts do, often viewed as the red-headed cousin (Prince Harry?) of the thrash family; while it is true that British thrash never hit the same heights in the overall pantheon of the genre, overlooking the scene is your loss, given that you will be missing out on some fantastic overlooked releases that you may not have heard of. This night saw a bill that mixed one of the best of the new school of British thrash (Brithrash? Sounds itchy) in Tortured Demon with one of the big 4 to come from these isles in Xentrix.

Reading is not a usual stop for many metal bands on the UK circuit, often missing out at the expense of Milton Keynes or London. However, in Sub89, there is a venue well suited for smaller sized shows (with a 600 sized capacity) to host bands wanting switch things up; plus, it's one of the few venues I know that has sofas lining the walls to the side of stage. This latter detail came in handy as while doors opened at 19:00, the two-band bill didn't start until 20:00, meaning that for an hour there was nothing on offer. It’s a shame that there were neither longer sets from both bands nor an additional opening act.

Tortured Demon 20:00-20:40

Lost in the blur

Still, when it finally came time for Tortured Demon to take to the stage, the decent-sized audience duly got off of the sofas and up to the stage. This Herculean effort on the audience's part was rewarded by a band who are quickly challenging for primacy in a swelling underground thrash scene in the UK. Having caught the band several times over the past few years, I've long noted how they have continued to go from strength to strength, putting on a show that belies their youthful years.

With last year's excellent Rise Of The Lifeless being the focus of their set, Tortured Demon (how do you torture a demon anyway? Answers on a postcard) put on a show that had me questioning if they could be the band that broke the glass ceiling for UK thrash acts. Battling vocal and bass mixes that were far too low on the opening "Rise Of The Lifeless", the band tore through riff-heavy thrash metal that demanded your attention. "Conflict Of Interest" threatened to see the band's set peak early; however a strong rendition of "The Invasion" (with aforementioned inaudible bass making the bass break somewhat comical) ensured the set never dipped.

As the band were about to launch into "A Knee To The Face Of Corruption", tonight's unexpected guest in the fire alarm made its first of some unwelcome appearances, resulting in power to be cut to the amplifiers. While the band attempted to entertain the bemused audience, it effectively cut their set short as by the time the power was restored, their allotted time had run out. Kudos to Parkinson for taking time to mingle with those on the barrier to attempt to at least try and make the most of things.

That's him! The one who pulled the fire alarm!

Still, Tortured Demon continue to improve with each live show, suggesting a high ceiling for the band should the cards fall right for the group.

Xentrix 21:00-22:45

After the (figurative) smoke had settled (and the fire alarm silenced), excitement built for tonight's headliners. It is perhaps telling how quality is no guarantee of success in music, for, while Sub89 may be a decent enough venue, its size is ill-fitting when you consider it is to host a full album performance of Shattered Existence, which surely merits shows in larger venues.

Gordon Freeman did a few Xen tricks himself

Still, as the band came out on stage, it quickly became apparent that it's a case of 35 years and going strong. Kicking straight into Shattered Existence meant that the band hit the ground running, with a thunderous one-two of "No Compromise" and "Balance Of Power". This early momentum was almost derailed by the second guest appearance of said fire alarm just as the band were tearing into "Crimes"; the microphones were still live, however, leaving the band to roll out dad jokes in lieu of riffs for the brief interim, Kristian Havard comically explaining the cast on his hand.

What's the next song? I always play the album on shuffle

Still, once things got going again, the band continued their thunderous riff-heavy assault. Hearing Jay Walsh sing parts I've long associated with Chris Astley was a bit of a mind trip, particularly during the choruses for "Back In The Real World" and "Position Of Security", but he has long made the position his own. The band were on top form throughout, dusting off deeper cuts from the album and questioning why they aren't played more regularly.

Holding in a sneeze or singing?

Having tore through Shattered Existence, Xentrix raced straight into choice cuts off their latest album Seven Words, along with a mix of other career highlights. "Behind The Walls Of Treachery" and "The Alter Of Nothing" are evidence that even after 35 years, the band are still going strong in the studio as well as on stage.

With that, a night of thrash entertainment drew to a close. While the belated start time and fire alarm threatened to put a dampener on proceedings, strong showings from both bands left mixed feelings; while grateful to see both in such a small and local venue, you couldn't help but feel both deserved somewhere a bit more prestigious.

My souvenir for the night

Written on 21.02.2024 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 30 users
23.02.2024 - 08:36
Cynic Metalhead
Paisa Vich Nasha
Awesome article, omne.

It's great for someone discovering UK thrash metal scene.
24.02.2024 - 22:22
omne metallum

Written by Cynic Metalhead on 23.02.2024 at 08:36

Awesome article, omne.

It's great for someone discovering UK thrash metal scene.

Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care

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