Slaves are the best band to come of Kent in a long time, in fact I’d say they’re the best band to come out of this country. The punk grime-rock two piece- Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent- have the most insane, crazy sound both on record and live on-stage. 2016 really has been their year too; they’ve genuinely been the band everyone’s been talking about, from older punk fans who remember the times of The Clash, to young music lovers completely new to the rock scene. Slaves have had an intense past nine months; they started of the year with a sold out UK tour with support from punk legends Wonk Unit and fresh indie rockers Spring King, before going on to support Wolf Alice on their American tour, as well as play a series of festivals, including T In The Park, Glastonbury, and Reading & Leeds on the main stage. You’d think that’s more than enough for one year, but the band have their second album ‘Take Control’ due for release on Friday (September 30th) and a huge tour coming up for Autumn/ Winter time. And the last couple of weeks have seen Slaves play another sold out tour of the UK; the ‘Back in the Van’ tour. The principle behind the tour was that years ago when Slaves were struggling as a band and playing to only a handful of people at a time, small venues up and down the country helped them out and gave them slots to play. And in the current climate which is seeing venue after venue shut down, Slaves took it upon themselves to help these venues out a bit and play a one off gig there. To see Slaves in a venue with a capacity of around 200 or less would be a dream for any fan of punk or grime music, and naturally the tickets sold out in less than minute. I was absolutely ecstatic to have got one, and they lived up to all the expectations I could possibly have had. Last Wednesday (21st September), I was able to see Laurie and Isaac rip The Horn to pieces, with a crazy ferocious aura on stage. They absolutely killed it, with support from savage new Welsh band Estrons. It’s funny how much power and aggression they have on stage, as in person Isaac and Laurie are the loveliest, nicest guys ever. I remember bumping into Isaac a couple of months ago on a night out in Camden and he was honestly the most genuine, humble guy ever. The fact that they’re so humble and grounded is shown in the principle behind the tour, as they wanted to give back to the venues that helped them years ago, and they absolutely smashed it. Not bad for a Wednesday night in St Albans.
When I found out Estrons were the support band, I was thrilled; the grungy hard-core indie-rock four piece come from Wales, and have an immense, ferocious presence. I first got into the band a couple of months ago when Flying Vinyl sent me a copy of their ‘Make A Man’/’Drop’ 7”, and was blown away by their vicious ferocity and raw, savage intensity from the first note. The band have such an amazing presence- both on record and on stage- and there’s something really special about them. Fronted by Taliesyn Källström, they have a killer energy live which shook The Horn right down to its foundations. The heaviness of their music was what I loved the most, and it wasn’t a perfect refined set, instead it was rough and messy, just pure rock music. Their set lasted a good half hour, and included the singles I mentioned earlier. ‘Make a Man’ is such a sick tune, and Taliesyn’s voice is so raspy and gritty it just brings a whole new life to the track. According to her, the track’s about “the story of a heterosexual female’s battle between desiring a man, whilst simultaneously finding herself having little respect for his self-important ego and misogynistic attitude towards women”. It starts with the guitar on its own, before the drums and heavy bass kick in; it’s such a fantastic head-banger mosh pit type track, with insane vocals too. I’m in love with the presence the band have, and the way Taliesyn seems so effortlessly cool and almost intimidating with her heavy rock ‘n’ roll vibes. Similarly, ‘Drop’ is a crazy rough track too, and probably my favourite. The guitar and heavy ridiculously loud bass is what makes the track for me, alongside Taliesyn’s screams before the chorus drops in. What a way to start the gig as well- Slaves are notorious for having good support bands, just take acts that have played with them in the past like Baby Strange, Wonk Unit and Spring King. And Estrons are one of the best opening acts I’ve seen in a long time. I’d compare their sound to bands like Marmozets, Pretty Vicious and Yak. To buy tickets for their tour, you can purchase them here. You can also check out their Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Soundcloud.
And then for the main act of the night- Slaves. Wednesday night was my 5th time seeing them, and genuinely the best performance of theirs I’ve seen. They absolutely killed it, with an insane set list and just a mental, crazy good onstage presence. They opened with ‘Sockets’, before going on to play a host of tracks from 2015’s ‘Are You Satisfied?’ as well as a few new tracks from upcoming album ‘Take Control’ (which you can purchase here.) Their set was perfect from start to finish, with such a great crowd who were moshing and forming circle pits for the entire duration of the gig. The Horn is a tiny venue, with a really low ceiling meaning it was hot and cramped, which is just what a rock gig is meant to be like. Isaac and Laurie were so lovely too, and kept taking breaks from their set to talk to the crowd and make sure everyone was being treated okay, especially the girls at the front. Laurie, who was wearing his infamous Young Lovers Club ‘hateful’ skull shirt, was on fire throughout the entire performance; his guitar skills always amaze me, especially on tracks like ‘Hey,’ ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Beauty Quest’ and last week was no different. His energy was unfaultable too, and he kept crowd surfing whilst playing guitar, it was insane! Isaac, of course, was incredible too; his vocals literally get better and better each time I see them, and his performance was so raw and hard-core, pretty much showcasing punk-grime music at its finest. The gig was so intimate and personal too, easily one of the best gigs The Horn has ever seen. To think they played there a few years back to just a handful of people to selling out the venue in under one minute is truly incredible, and so exciting as well for rock music! For me, the best tracks were ‘Wow!!! 7am’, just because it’s my favourite track ever by them and they missed it off their Reading set list when I saw them last month. As well as that, ‘Are You Satisfied?’ was incredible too; for that track, Laurie goes on acoustic guitar with Isaac singing along to that without playing drums- this enabled the two of them to stand right on the barrier so the entire crowd could see them. For that track, Isaac instructed the crowd to clear their throats and have a ‘little sing along’ with him. As well as those two, I loved ‘Girl Fight’- despite only lasting 15 seconds, everyone lost their shit in the moshpit when they did it. Like he used to do back around 2012 time, Isaac opened ‘Girl Fight’ with his story of seeing two women fighting on the street- which he says there is nothing ‘more unattractive’ than- causing him to chuck his takeout away. This story telling theme is a bit of a rhetoric in Slaves’ performances, most notably with their insane track ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ And it’s the simplicity of ‘Girl Fight’ which makes it so brilliant. The lyrics- ‘girl fight, girl fight, screams ring out into the night, girl fight, girl fight, makes me lose my appetite, girl fight, girl fight, girl fight, girl fight, I’m not gonna get too close my shoes are new my shirt is white’- go along with the heaviest drumming and guitar I’ve heard in such a short burst of time. Their set list was fantastic. They played three tracks from 2012’s ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ and three tracks also from upcoming second album ‘Take Control.’ Some people worried at first that releasing their second album just a year after their debut came out may mean the album’s been rushed or hurried, losing some of its gritty punk quality on the way. But if you listen to new tracks ‘Take Control’ and ‘Consume Or Be Consumed’, it’s proof that the quality has only gone up. And they started recording around February time, so have had a good seven months to create what’s certain to be a pure intense rock explosion.
Slaves have this crazily unique one-off sound, fusing hard core punk music with grime; but is punk really the right term to use? In an interview with NME magazine Laurie stated “punk is a dead idea. In 1977, when John Lydon was playing gigs in bin liners, everyone in that scene was in it together, they were all part of the same thing. Now, when you talk about punk to someone who doesn’t know anything about the history, to them it’s just a leather jacket and a Mohawk. We don’t want to be called punk because there are far more people who don’t understand it than do. We align ourselves with the original ideas of punk, but punk is just a fashion statement now. Why does our generation always try and relate everything back, when there’s an opportunity there to do something new and original?” with Isaac adding “grime is the real punk of today, it has its own attitude its own way of life.” And their love for grime music is clear, especially from their covers of ‘Go’ by The Chemical Brothers, and ‘Shutdown’ by Skepta.
Speaking of attitude, the two piece have the best attitude on stage- they’re not arrogant or cocky or rude, instead full of life and passion and fire, coming out with the most aggressive ferocious pieces of music I’ve heard in years. Having been into rock music pretty much all my life, it’s safe to say that no band has ever excited me as much as Slaves do. From their lovely humble personalities, to their intense raw powerful tracks, to Laurie’s incredible tattoos and paintings, it’s easy to say they are one of the best bands right now. And as for live performances, well they’re the best live band I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to loads of gigs, including bands like Royal Blood, Pulled Apart By Horses, Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys, but no-one has ever filled me with as much excitement and anticipation as Slaves have, nor has anyone thrilled me as much as they do. With a sold out UK tour and array of festival appearances behind them this year, you’d think that’s it for 2016. But, they have a whole load of gigs coming up, and their second album ‘Take Control’ comes out this Friday (30th September.) And knowing Slaves, it’s going to be fucking outstanding.
Gig rating: ★★★★★
See below for their full set list
- White Knuckle Ride
- Live Like An Animal
- Take Control
- Cheer Up London
- Spit It Out
- Wow!!! 7am
- Rich Man
- Beauty Quest
- Are You Satisfied?
- Girl Fight
- The Hunter
…Or listen to it on the go here: