A nice mellow post-black-gaze gig tonight not that anyone told the drinkers in the pub next door who are having a right old ding dong of it with the police as many turn up. First on the stage tonight are Krawwl from Ireland who consist of past and present members of the much missed Altar Of Plagues, Abaddon Incarnate and Malthusian amidst others. Tonight they are fleshed out by the familiar face of Sam Loynes of Voices on guitar and they quickly fill the venue with sound that’s bleak and weighty. Riding on its crest there’s a shimmering post rock feel with meandering fretwork which then explodes with driving drums and high pitched vocal yells. By contrast are clean harmonic vocals from the other singer, dour in delivery but perfectly placed in line with a drop in the musical ferocity. Songs are long intricate and involving with plenty of emotion, moments of violence counterpoised by others with a thousand yard gaze. The venue gets busier and the music continues with no real pause between songs / segments all flowing seamlessly together. At times things move into massive muscular rock outs with long gaps between vocals. The third long passage starts with a tribal drum thump and arcane sharp guitar work, a bit post punk in composure. The clean vocals join in and I am pleased things focus on these as I am not convinced with the more penetrating high vocal clamour and prefer them. Everything combines heading towards a massive peak and as silence descends again it gives us a chance to take a deep collective breath. An interesting first encounter and no doubt one that will evolve with time.
It’s been a long while since I last saw Falloch and have just had a brief chance to give their new album This Island, Our Funeral the once over. They have a new vocalist since the first album and with more experience under their belt seem to be a lot more centred and composed on stage this time around. There is no need for them to ask the audience to move forward, they already have standing watching like zombies sizing up their prey. Vocal croons go towards the roof, guitars glisten and drums beat slowly, it’s mournful and evocative. There is a forlorn and epic feel about the performance, huge instrumental surges bristle away. An acoustic shine leads in to ‘For Life’ and there’s a huge melodic sheen of gossamer etched fret work which has us swaying along. Heartfelt is a good way to sum the show up and it’s one that really transcends genres, although possibly too light for the extremists and too heavy for the commercial masses, one that unites us all here. They also know just how to conclude a set and do so with a powerhouse charge that sweeps us away and again leaves close to gasping.
Fen may not be able to hear themselves fully on stage but they sound absolutely massive for those of us in front of them and play a set that has people commenting about it being one of their most brutal shows to date. A guitar flamenco etched weave enraptures as the band move from an acoustic refrain into a momentous driving barrage that’s oh so sweet, oh so savage. Vocals correspond moving from clean to feral as they are unleashed, the sound is crystal clear and everything is defined perfectly for us. There’s something about Fen that gives you a false sense of security, the way they draw into a comfortably numb zone and then rear up and bite your head off. It’s such a shift of force it’s like being like thrown off a very steep cliff. They are unleashing a new song tonight from forthcoming album ‘Carrion Sky’ called Menhir – Supplicant. The album arrived for review a few days ago but I have not had a chance to hear it yet and in a way this makes first exposure to the track all the more intense as it is a completely savage and windswept barraging force. Downing tools into a lush gloomy acoustic part it has us swaying before a savage yell from the vocals has it surging back in and battering away hell for leather. From the new to an old favourite as the unmistakable strains of Exile’s Journey take us into a heady conclusion which sees people getting really into a frenzied head bang session at the front. This is going to be a difficult one to follow!
After masses of space for a trio it seemed like the quintet of Lantlos fill the stage as they came on co-ordinated in black shirts. They force us down a wind-tunnel of sound as they gear up into opener ‘Intrauterin.’ After a fearsome start they move away into a polar opposite space taking us into a blissful trance one that brings to mind a certain band and thoughts of an albatross coasting across the sea. It’s close to taking us to nirvana before jagged ferocity and roaring distempered vocals hone in again. They seem to coast along effortlessly, hitting a groove and surfing along on it. There is a pause and we are informed by that this is the band’s first UK show and they were sorry but would have to try their best vocally due to sore throats. There seemed no problem at all with the delivery of them, the clean harmonies and more savage roaring parts sounding spot on. We were taken back in time to the 80’s and the 4AD land that some of us grew up in and it was a more than comfortable place to be. The audience all seemed really into things as the band unveiled no less than the first four cuts of new album ‘Melting Sun.’ At times it did get a little bit too lush for my tastes but I was happy to go with the flow as we move dreamily through their enthralling soundscapes leading from Azure Chimes to Jade Fields. Again it was a case of not having listened to the album more than a couple of times which made it all the fresher here and it was really easy to lose yourself in its multi-hued folds before leaving in ‘Bliss’ back to the real world and the dank confines of the Northern Line
(Review and photos © Pete Woods)