An interesting line-up as ever put on completely free at the Unicorn saw many heading out of the centre of Camden and trooping up the hill looking for some bleak and black extremity. First up were Barshasketh all the way from Wellington New-Zealand although somehow they have found themselves displaced to the slightly less exotic climate of Edinburgh. We had encountered their ‘Sitra Achra’ CD earlier this year via Todestrieb but even this could not have prepared for the nasty savage sound and massive velocity that span out the speakers as they got their set underway. Guitars went for it hell for leather and drums were unrelenting. Vocals were spat out at throat shredding, barking pitch and there was amidst the maelstrom sharp guitar parts with some compelling depressive textures about them. They sounded both angry and depressed. The bassist did not stick to the small confines of the stage but took to the dance floor posturing with back to the audience playing watching the rest of his band. This left those in the audience somewhat nervously backed up, either not wanting to get in his way or just simply not wanting to get too near the devastation and despondence which was now being dished out in equal measures. It was quite a unique mix although parts reminded of Nachtmystium and Leviathan at full flight with the maudlin parts adding a touch of the tomblike caress of Xasthur. Songs were dynamic and flung out with fury and precision juxtaposed with an air of wrist-slitting finality. The set culminated with the singer throwing his guitar down, looking manic as he yelled into the microphone and barking out the last of his vocals before leaving the stage. Obviously they did something right looking at those gathered around the merch stall.
Hordes may have been a new proposition musically but looking at the band containing members of the scum drenched Birmingham underground it was noted that they included miscreants I had seen on stage before including vocalist Drunken Duncan Wilkins of Fukpig, ex Mistress and Anaal Nathrakh live amongst other bands. They decided to play in near darkness apart from some visuals behind them which I instantly recognised as being Guinea Pig 2 Flower Of Flesh And Blood. That should give you some idea about just how nasty, vile and intense their sound was, yes they did actually manage to match the on-screen depravity. Scummy and sludgy riffs slewed out with feedback, slow drum pounds and gurgling vocals and in a welter it seemed like everything exploded like a powerful bomb. Intense was the perfect description as crust, grind, sludge and black filth musically collided along with the hollering vocals. It was a complete and utter annihilating destruction ritual and I quickly found myself revelling in it although realising that without even noticing I had downed my cider had to take a quick break to the bar where the music followed punishing every part of the pub. It was again one of those sets that was so in the face it had most taking three steps back from the stage, fuck that I was going to go deaf standing next to the speaker and embrace the violence. Despite some slower leaden grooves there was little in the way of any let-up and as things culminated to entrails being pulled out on screen the strains of the main theme from Cannibal Holocaust were left to contrast and fill the void left by the assault. Perfect!
Caina have been out of action for a while and have not played any shows for four years so there was obviously a lot of interest here. I had a chat with Andrew Curtis-Brignell just prior to him going on that he was very nervous about performing live again but was going to find it a cathartic experience getting back on stage. As for what he was going to do, it was described as no songs but an improv performance. Having heard a couple of albums I was not sure what we were going to get anyway as how does a one man black metal act really manage to emerge from the bedroom (so to speak) and convincingly play on a stage? There are reasons why many similar artists either do not ever do this or at the least gather a live band around them something that Andrew had chosen not to do. Instead he was surrounded by effects pedals and the sole centre of attention and yes he did look suitably uncomfortable. Drone and feedback built up with elements of noise and occasional rabid screams into the microphone. Distortion bled out and pedals and effects were utilised to hit frequencies previously unknown to mankind. It was both uncomfortable to watch and to listen to and it was obvious after a few minutes that not everyone in the venue knew what they were witnessing and found themselves more at ease chatting and moving further back into the bar area. Long elongated guitar tones with a semblance of ambiance filled the ears and things reverberated and looped over themselves with the occasional screams from the vocals. There is not a huge amount more to say and no I did not last the full set by any means finding it all a little too self-indulgent and painful to watch. I would ultimately and being polite say that this really did not translate to a live show and tonight was certainly all about the first two bands, still Caina proved an interesting and intriguing proposition.