Absolva – Trillians, Newcastle upon Tyne 7th December 2017

One of the highlights of my musical adventure over the last couple of years has been developing a new-found love for things heavier. I suspect this was always likely to happen but, thanks to those fine folks at RockSector Records and their truly spectacular SOS Festival, this happened far quicker than I could have dreamt of. Now, to be honest, my musical favourites have always been much wider and varied than many think but it really is a great way to discover new music (tickets on sale now for the eleventh event in 2018 – so do yourself a favour and get some bought) but back to the point of this. On of the headliners in 2016 was Absolva and their set that night really lit the fire within me and has resulted in my OCD taking hold and having to get a copy of everything they have released.

For those that don’t know, the band consists of brothers Chris and Luke Appleton along with Martin McNee on drums and Karl Schramm on bass. As you would expect from Blaze Bayley’s band and a member of Iced Earth, Absolva proclaim what they do as heavy metal and, do you know what, they really do represent the very best of all that is great about British metal music.

Clearly power and might in abundance but, for me to be hooked it needs more than just that. What Absolva produce is the perfect blend of melody, technique and power. Even more to the point, here are a band at the top of their game and enjoying what they do. Clearly not ones for whom the seven-year gap between records and tours would sit comfortably (I suspect Chris would get bored), this year sees Absolva celebrate 5 years together as a band nad the release of their fourth album “Defiance”. The album is without question the best of their work to date and the songs had an immediate impact on first play resulting in  needing to listen on constant rotation.

Tonight’s set didn’t disappoint – blending songs from “Defiance” with others from their career to date (and with the dedication of the Absolva fanbase, they would be very brave not to play some of those ones). With the energy of the band and Chris Appleton’s infectious stage presence the appreciative crowd were with them from the first note to last.

What struck me most, though was the quality of musicianship on show. Chris sure can sing but what a guitarist he is – no reliance on flash and technique (of which he as  in abundance) but with a subtlety of approach that should be more widely recognised. Sure, as a guitarist, I could spot influences but this is no copyist in action. Subtle guitar playing in heavy metal? Whatever next?

Karl and Martin are perhaps the perfect rhythm section – locked in tight and providing the drive to push the band to where these types of show need to be.

Having only seen Absolva as a three-piece before tonight, what struck me is how complete the band are in that format. What I couldn’t believe was the difference the presence of Luke makes to the sound. Nominally there as rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Luke is much more than that – lead vocals in places and providing the twin lead guitar that provides the perfect added edge to the Absolva sound.

As ever, Trillians sound was exceptional and I am so pleased that there are still places like this around the country – make sure you don’t just know these places exist, get out there and attend shows. These are the BEST places to see/hear music and discover new music


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