The Brudenell Social Club, 15th January 2015
Less of a gig and more of a mini-festival, the lineup represented a herculean – and vaguely daunting – assemblage of brutal metal: with five bands over almost five hours, this was a marathon of brutality in the making. And yes, it delivered on its promise.
Kicking off early (6:50 early), Gloomweaver get things going to a suitably thunderous start. The trio – a configuration of bassist, drummer and angry nihilistic shouter – bring a heavy trudge and some monstrous grooves from a dark place and call to mind Godflesh and early Swans. Interlaced with classic doom tropes. From amidst an ever-reflecting labyrinth of infinite delay, the heavily processed vocals are delivered with force.
In contrast with the confrontational stance of Gloomweaver, Mountains Crave offer a more atmospheric approach to both presentation and the music. Swathed in a dense smog of smoke, their songs gradually unfurl through lengthy passages of a more delicate nature before erupting into cataclysmic mayhem. Swirling, expansive post-metal sections collide with pure black metal fury, and there are heavy hints of Neurosis to be found in their sound as they unleash a fierce, primal howl from the depths of ancient swamps and forests. If Mountains Crave play to convention, they at least do so with total conviction and unflinching ferocity.
With DVNE, it’s all about that snarling, low-slung bass sound. Wait, no: that’s the guitar. They’ve got two of them, and the dual vocals register the upper and lower frequencies while the bass gnaws at your intestines. Packing in tempo changes galore, the songs lurch from doomy sludge to lightning pace black thrash via expansive, epic sections each track features multiple, unexpected and seamless transitions. We’re firmly in progressive metal territory, and this is innovative and technical stuff, detailed, complex, and as fierce as hell.
Nursing my pint and inching closer to the stage as the venue became increasingly full and gilled with an air of anticipation, I felt oddly conspicuous as one of the few without a big beard. Yet for all of the ferocity of the music, I’m always struck by just how docile and thoroughly decent metal crowds are, and the atmosphere in the busy Brudenell reminded me just how accommodating and broad-minded the fans are, and the diversity of the acts to this point only illustrated the point. So many different shades of metal.
But for all that, I’d heard rumblings of division where Gnaw Their Tongues were concerned. By which I mean, a fair few people seem less than keen on their work. But then, perhaps appreciation of GTT requires an appreciation as much of power electronics as anything metal. Until now, they’ve been the studio-bound project of Mories, and only began taking it out on the road early in 2015. Morries plays five-string bass and screams, while his two cohorts twiddle knobs and poke laptops. Which essentially adds up to laptop metal. The drums are all too often buried in the mix, and while power electronics acts like Whitehouse and Prurient offer sharp diction and abrasive lyrical content, and variety and texture respectively, Gnaw Their Tongues’ sample-infused sonic assault grows a shade samey over the course of a fairly lengthy set. And yet, for all that, it was a decent performance, issuing forth a relentlessly uncompromising noise.
Gnaw Their Tongues
And then Dragged Into Sunlight took things up several notches, both in terms of volume and violent force. The foursome are braving a public appearance without balaclavas tonight, but the stage is kept in near darkness – alternating with blinding strobes – and they play almost the full duration of their set with their backs to the crowd. The candle-stand at the front of the stage, atop of which sits a an antlered skull, adds to the theatre and sense of occasion, and if anything, the presentation and cultivated distance between artist and audience only heightens the intensity of the performance. And intense it is – searing, gut-churning and agonisingly intense. That the music hits at three hundred miles an hour with the weight of a Boeing 747 falling from the sky almost goes without saying. That they don’t sit in the ‘extreme metal’ bracket for nothing is a given. That it’s dark, unremittingly harsh is an understatement. But live, it’s all in the execution. Is it mere catharsis when your retinas are scorched and your ears are bleeding? Call it what you like, but Dragged Into Sunlight take everything to another level.
Dragged Into Sunlight
It’s only just January, but I’m wondering if I’m likely to see another show anywhere near as visceral as this during 2016.