Sometimes, you really should do your homework before going to a gig! On this occasion, I was familiar with three of the five acts beforehand, and was particularly looking forward to seeing the two heavy acts bookending the bill – especially as one was unveiling a new line up and the other I hadn’t seen live in something like two years… but, nothing quite prepared me for what went on in between, as I shall now reveal…
Openers Shrouded are very much the youngsters on the bill, in every respect, and tonight sees them debuting new bassist Jordy Thompson (brother of Scimitar guitarist John, who, with his bandmates, is along to over much-needed moral support), who looks suitably apprehensive. Despite having only had a handful of rehearsals, he has fitted in well so far, keeping the bottom end of the quartet’s technical death metal sound tight and grounded, and adding a suitably darkened demeanour to the melodies and sharp, punchy riffs. Frontman Dani Kansanaho also looks slightly nervous – highlighting the fact that the band, as whole, do still need to work on their stage presence, especially between songs – but they take another brave step in unveiling a new song, ‘Hymn of Flawless Darkness’, which demonstrates how their ability in the writing department is progressing. And there is no debate as to their superb technical ability, especially in the interaction between Kansanaho and Shane Hughes, while Scott Neill is coming on leaps and bounds behind the kit. This is a young band with a long road to travel, and a lot of lessons to learn along the way, but thankfully they seem well-prepared for the journey.
PM’s Belfast team had previously come across Disconnect at the Poser Holocaust one-day showcaser down the road in Lisburn earlier this year, and so knew what to expect as their wails of electronically-triggered discordant noise evolve into deep, throaty battering rams of punishing, bass-fuelled psyched-out, industrial sonics punctuated by blasts of unearthly extreme vocal possession. The instruments grind and gyrate over the synthesised rhythms and effects, producing an almost trance-like state among those closest to the stage, but one which also triggers the right neck-nodding and knee-jerking synapses.
A table-filled with effects pedals, mixer decks and various other paraphernalia marks the set up for the one man noise machine that is knifedoutofexistence. The south coast artist describes what he does as “audio dyspraxia”: certainly what follows for the next ten minutes or so is a noiselab of monotonous loops and turns of eardrum-destroying slasher movie FX. The result is something akin to the worst acid trip Hunter S Thompson could imagine, washed down with a serious dosage of 1000% mescal, and then waking up to discover the worm is still alive and crawling around inside your brain somewhere! In other words, just complete noise for the sake of it! Then, to confuse matters even further, Unyielding Love set up behind the aforementioned table, which has now been enhanced by the addition of various chains, rejected electronic whatnots – and a soldering iron!
It turns out that this is a collaborative set, with the band’s vocalist basically joining in on what had gone before (despite the inordinately long delay in between), but adding his own touch by hammering his mic continuously into a mesh of chains! It’s all a bit weird for this hardened metallian, who likes his music more of the meat and two guitars variety! However, when the band do actually get around to playing, they produce something resembling grind-edged post-industrial hardcore punk; and, in among all the noise, the bassist proves that he really does know his way around his instrument, as he introduces a slightly mis-matched sense of musicality to the proceedings.
Like most of those present, however, your humble scribe is here to witness Ceaseless Blight make one of their rare live appearances. With the gig now running seriously behind schedule, the now stripped-down quartet waste no time and eschew all niceties as they set up – they don’t even bother to line check – before their nihilistic black metal soundscapes paint bleak pictures of organic darkness which match the conditions outside the venue, where gales are howling and snow is threatening to fall for the first time this year. It has been almost exactly two years since PM caught a dose of the Blight live, and some things have changed in that period… The image is slightly different for a start, with what minimal amount of corpse paint they previously had used now confined to the make up bag, and there is a new leaner set up – oh, and frontman Raab has also grown a rather impressive Scandinavian style beard.
The sound has also changed, taking on a more Norwegian style twist to BM, as they embark on an early morning ritualistic summoning of the genre’s darkest demons. They are technically precise yet warm, their concise melodies, and their nuances of tone, counterpointing the intensely focussed performance from the towering frontman, yet retaining an eerie undertone of the potential to be fully unleashed but wisely restrained.
All in all, an interesting evening, highlighted by the sets which opened and closed proceedings.
- Photographs by The Dark Queen. All content © PlanetMosh 2015.