Right now it would be pretty impossible for me to try and pick a favourite band or artist as it would be like asking a parent to pick their favourite child. All I can say is that there are loads of bands who I’m high on right now and Mallen are definitely one of those bands. I was a big fan of their EP which was released a couple of months ago so watching them get loads of good reviews and rock the O2 in Birmingham with Martyr De Mona the other week gave me that kind of ‘proud father’ feeling.
The thing that really makes them stand out to me is their simplicity. There are no gimmicks they’re just an old fashioned rock band with a great rhythm section, monster riffs and quality vocals.
It might not have been the most difficult task given the size of the venue but the band sounded absolutely huge here. Welcome To The Edge got things off to a real barnstorming start, the energy coming down from the stage was fantastic, it’s the kind of energy that could only be matched by giving 30 primary school kids unlimited access to the chocolate isle at Asda. Legacy was up next and as you’ll know from my review of the EP I’m not the biggest fan of this song but I must report that it’s grown on me a little. There was an extra umph that the song carried live which has softened my stance towards it a bit.
The first track not from the band’s debut EP was Jack Of Cards but it was still classic Mallen. The description that you see flying around is that they are ‘Alter Bridge but with female vocals’ and as much as I hate to follow the crowd that soundbite is pretty much spot on. The rhythms and riffs are glorious and the vocal from Kelly stands up live without a shadow of a doubt. Rise To Fly was one of my favourite songs from the aforementioned EP and I probably love it even more now. It slots into the pandemonium really well, it’s slower and mellower, not quite a ballad but it’s in that kind of territory. The obligatory guitar solo soars brilliantly high, I could feel it through the table that I was delicately perched on.
Up to this point and frankly right until the last note sounded this performance absolutely flew by. This was not only due to the quality of the music but the performance as a whole. Everything was really slick and really professional. The set flowed really well, the little chats with the audience didn’t go on too long, the whole thing was just on point. These guys are serious about their work and it shows. There’s a lesson in there for bands and artists alike.
Rise To Fly might not be a fully-fledged ballad but Owes You Nothing unashamedly is. Imagine a classic rock ballad in your head and that’s exactly what this track sounds like. It swept and swirled around the stage in typically grandiose fashion with peaks and troughs, pace changes and vocals ranging from gentle and reserved to ‘I want to bring down the walls!’ Songs like this aren’t everyone’s taste but I’m all for it, plus it gives the set as a whole a better flow and sense of journey which is what a performance should be all about.
However, things wouldn’t stay mellow and slowed down for too long, as soon as the applause from the audience died down Kelly gave a rallying cry for ‘More hardcore shit!’ and God damn the band delivered. Pull The Trigger was the heaviest thing that the band played and it’s just a straight metal tune. A great bassy intro led straight into riffs that thundered along like a runaway freight train, as the saying goes everything had just been turned up to 11. The track closed with an awesome drum solo from Mr Thomas Crowfoot which was captured on video so you can check it out below. Sometimes these things come off as self-indulgent but this was awesome and everyone there was into it as Crowfoot drummed his ass off.
Penultimate track Your Enemy was just another badass rock tune with an awesome guitar solo and some really gritty and passionate vocal work but by this point I wasn’t expecting anything less. The night was brought to a close by Ride which also closes the EP that I keep talking about. It’s got multiple phases and seriously killer drums, it’s a real blood and guts song and the band left everything up on the stage as prolonged applause filled the venue and signalled the end of the night.
Front woman Kelly- Jane is probably the most unassuming rock front woman I have seen in my life. She’s slight of frame and pretty quiet but for those 40 minutes or so while she was on stage she dominated it. It was a surprise in the best way. There was passion in bucket loads and she got totally lost in the music which was awesome to see. The musicianship from the guys with her was first rate and the audience just lapped it up.
There will be bigger stages and bigger audiences to come but those 4 guys made a real impression on so many last week. They’ve got quality music, a great rapport with their fans and they give it all when they perform. As a music fan that’s all I want and with Mallen you will not be disappointed.
All photography comes courtesy of RM Photography aka Rich Moss aka Frontman of the awesome rock band Stone Broken.