Into the Pit: 177: Senser – Live at The Underworld – 27-July 2013

I will, I promise, be covering another new band at some point in my reviews, rather than another returning. Although in Senser’s case, it is more a case of continuing to plug away, with a fifth album over a near-twenty year period, even if there have been downtimes and lineup changes along the way.

In addition, this show was the only non-headline show of the tour, with Senser bizarrely being second-on-the-bill to DJ Sid Wilson (of Slipknot fame). As much as I like Slipknot’s earlier material in particular, my friends and I who attended this show had no interest in his set, so left for the pub post-Senser.

There was one other band as well as Senser, though, and that was Manchester-based death metal band Ingested. The early-ish start to the show – not to mention some pretty awful early-evening weather – perhaps meant that they played to a rather more sparse crowd than might be expected, but they weren’t too bad as it goes. Chugging riffs, roared, nigh-on unintelligable vocals, and they were nice and heavy. Exhortations to the few in the crowd to create a circle pit were ignored, mind. Nothing too original – I’ve seen many death metal bands in my time – but certainly as part of a new generation of death metal bands, I’m sure they’ll do fine as their career develops.

Senser setlist

Resistance Now
No Comply
Witch Village
Break The Order
Time Travel Scratch
2 3 Clear
Age of Panic

I think it is fair to say that Senser don’t really need to prove anything anymore. A long-time well-drilled live unit, having seen them a couple of times in recent years (including probably the only gig I’ve ever seen on a boat – as part of the End of The World Show II, on the MS Stubnitz late last year), I think I had a pretty good idea what to expect.

Even so, I was a little surprised at the set. The recently-released new album, To The Capsules, was featured fairly prominently (four songs), of course, but what was interesting was that some old favourites were the ones jettisoned to ensure the set fitted into the alloted forty-five minutes. I take this as a positive thing – a band confident in their new material, and so no longer reliant so much on their oldest material.

And so they should be – the new album is great, for the most part, and certainly the catchy recent single Witch Village (straddling the line between metal and hip-hop very well, and despite the title, is hugely political in tone) and the blistering, punky Break The Order, during which one of the biggest moshpits of the evening erupted. Also of note were the couple of songs from the previous album How To Do Battle, which are frankly two of the best songs Senser have done – a seething, rampaging Resistance Now (where current second vocalist iMMA really shows her vocal skills and value to the band), and then the explosive power of 2 3 Clear…and it did have me wondering how they didn’t get wider attention from those two songs alone.

Maybe it’s because, whether we like it or not, the press have moved on from Senser’s “heyday” in the nineties, and so many see them as a relic of the past. More fool them, in that case – clearly the new songs are now easily the match of that time, and to add to that, some of the original Senser anthems don’t half have the feel of prescience about them now. In a week where some rather unpleasant moves against “illegal immigrants” in the UK, which appear to have included racial profiling at stations, the anti-racist fury of No Comply still holds true, as does Age of Panic, while I don’t think Senser will ever be allowed to leave the stage without a blast through Eject at the end of the set.

Fashionable or not, playing under DJ Sid Wilson was probably a good move – certainly the crowd was rather younger, for the most part, than the last couple of Senser shows I’ve attended, and I’d like to think that this night introduced them to a load of people who won’t have heard them before. Rap/metal crossovers aren’t exactly “cool” anymore, but frankly I’m long past caring if something is cool or not. The fact is, Senser are still a great band on record and live, and if only they were given that bit more airtime in some corners…

Leave a Reply