Koru – Live at the Face Bar, Reading
The roots of KORU can be traced back to Sep 2007 when brain-child of the band and guitarist, Behrad Arian (guitars), being fed up with the lack of decent rock bands with a fresh sound, decided to put a killer band together. KORU was born and takes the name from the Maori word for the spiral shape created by a newly unfurled silver frond fern. This spiral pattern is often seen in motifs from New Zealand and symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace… and the idea of perpetual movement. Fronted up by the Maori ‘Chief’ Roy Hudson, the five piece band also includes Richard on guitars, Steven on bass and Ciaran on drums
If you are fan of classic British Heavy Metal then I absolutely guarantee that you will love this band. I was lucky enough to see them play live at the super FACE BAR, Reading last weekend.
After the rocky intro numbers ‘Play to Win’ and ‘Watch Your Back’ we were given ‘Magpie’. This song has plucky, rasping acoustic chords that will ruffle your feathers long before the sincere verse gets going… giving ‘Chief’ Hudson the chance to ply us with his enormous vocal range. This is the kind of song that makes you wanna stare out of the window and take stock of life and the world. Generous layers of frothy chords create a huge dark blanket of layered sound … and you start to begin to understand the meaning of life’s loves. When the predictable center-piece eventually comes, it creates a warm glow in your underbelly. Those translucent soaring guitars dip and dive like eagles on the wing. The pin-point lead break surge causes your heart to flutter, and you feel lifted and cleansed by the emotional power.
‘Bully’ has some unsettling notes to start us off, but then the riff begins and we head into a song that reminds us of the relentless satisfaction of sounds from bands like Black Sabbath ( or more precisely, Heaven & Hell. ) Then we are set up for something special by a racy bridge leading us to a rattling percussion-lead crescendo of power. This is Koru at their best with the twin guitars duelling, fighting and flustering over dropped chances – they are like two fighting birds trying to gain ground from their ruffled opponents.
‘Medusa’ incorporates an alter-piece of sound that will bring about fond memories of 80’s Iron Maiden – lushly corrugated chords create a crunchy surface for the Chiefs buoyant vocals to blossom, and for some intricate needlework guitar to lace through and loop. The verse is familiar and pleasant, and the lead guitar will bring a smile to your cheeks and wake up the weary head. An eel-like guitar solo suddenly appears and slithers and sleeks it’s way around the song, creating an intense wriggle.
‘Bleeding Guns’ provides an opportunity for the instrumentalists in the band to shine, and so they seize the opportunity at the FACE BAR and run with it. A rat-a-tat of drums provided us with a military riot of noise and colour, as the guitars nimbly gain pace and then burst into a fierce, yet hugely enjoyable, rumble. It would be difficult not to like this number (and several Koru fans at the Face Bar told me that this was their favourite piece.) Immense slabs of bass are laid down in huge portions by Steven Wallis and this sets up the stage for the twin guitars to start their action. You are lead, by the hand, towards the climax that we know is coming, but it’s still a shock when it finally arrives. A wave of steel, fire and hail shoots out at the audience with demonic intensity.
Koru rounded off the set with ‘It’s In the Blood’ that is introduced by a superb percussion solo, and then we came to the end of the concert.. with broad smiles smeared across our cheerful faces and thunder in our hearts.
Koru have all the makings of becoming a legendary Britsih heavy metal band. Come and see them soon and enjoy the experience. And download their excellent album at their site:
© Neil_Mach February 2012