“I can’t stay for more than a couple, I’ve got to go and review Oozing Wound” has to be by far the best reason I’ve been able to give for ducking out of an office Christmas party early. And it was entirely genuine. Unusually, I found myself enjoying the event and, unexpectedly, would have been happy to have stayed longer. Still, I’m well aware how messy these things can get, and am a strong believer in the benefits of quitting while you’re ahead. What’s more, I’ve seen enough bands to know that it’s always better to leave them wanting more. This is an adage Oozing Wound seemingly exist by, judging by their 35-minute, encore-free headline set.
Milling about in the Brudenell Social Club bar for the third time in eight days and surveying the posters on the walls, I wonder if I might not be better off just moving in at the place. It’s a pretty diverse bunch in tonight, which is to be expected given the divergent styles of the lineup, not to mention the fact The Boxer Rebellion are playing in the main room next door.
So, about the lineup: Thank wander on, decked in (almost completely) co-ordinated dayglo shorts, T-shirts and baseball caps and kick out a discordant noise whereby serrated, chanking guitars meld with bubbly, wibbly synths. ‘Petrolhead’, with its refrain of ‘honk if your horny’, set against a gut-churningly cacophonous dirge of a sonic backdrop is something of a highlight. As a band, they’re magnificently awkward and contradictory – as a ‘supergroup’ collaboration between members of various bands, including Irk and Super Luxury, of course they are (Irk’s front man Jack Gordon drums, while Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe, bassist with Beige Palace providing off-kilter vocals and uncomfortable, dry between-song banter). It works well, and as the set progresses they become increasingly cohesive. By the end, I’m sold.
Context counts, and while Cowtown are tight and sound and what they do, this didn’t feel like the right show for them to be the main support. Their brand of grungy indie with keen 80s pop-rock leanings (at one point they lift the ‘oo-wey-oh’ hook from ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’) is about concise, melody-driven songs delivered with precision an energy. Contrast is cool, but as a preface to a mega dose of frenetic US thrash, they seemed like an ill fit rather than a complimentary stylistic juxtaposition.
Oozing Wound hit the stage in a tidal wave of snarling, chugging, glorious guitar noise. Noisey have described them as ‘the Melvins of thrash… or the Mudhoney of metal,” and it’s fair comment. New Yorker have said the band are ‘happy to be a cheap imitation of Metallica and Slayer’, but that’s frankly bollocks and I’d personally take Oozing Wound any day over the bloated grunt of any of ‘the big three.’ The fact is that Oozing Would play hard and fast, demonstrating an appropriate level of brutality, while at the same time, offering a degree of accessibility.
The Chicago trio possess immense power. It may be a smaller audience than at The Key Club last year, but this doesn’t seem to bother them one bit as they pour their all into the set. The bassist scours his fretboard and wrings maximum nose from his instrument and vast FX rack, while Zack crunches out some dense chug on a Flying V. Going back to the pedals, Kevin, who’s a hair-tossing powerhouse, runs his bass through around 20 pedals in contrast to Zack’s two (one of which is discarded a few songs in), and this gives some indication of the balance of power and the source of the band’s immense sound. Strumming the fretboard with intense fury, the bass sounds like three basses and two guitars, and really drives the sound. The drumming’s not too shabby, either. Really: Casey works seriously hard, and his timing is faultless.
When they do slow things down a bit, they deliver an immense wall of sludge. When they pick up the pace again, the strangles, shrieking vocals ratchet up the intensity in a tumult of frenzied classic thrash noise. What sets Oozing Wound apart are intelligent structures and precise, well-placed breakdowns. That, and the fact they’re phenomenally tight: there’s no slack during the songs, and no let-up throughout the set. There’s no conversation, either, just-heads-down focus on delivering all-out power.
After agreeing to play one more song at the end of the set – drummer Casey is drenched in sweat and looks like he’s run a marathon – they ignore calls for an encore. It’s a fair call. Intensity beats duration, and Oozing Wound bring it and then some.