USA Nails / BELK / Cannibal Animal – Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 6th November 2021

Posted: 11 November 2021 in Live
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Christopher Nosnibor

The last time the once-ubiquitous Blacklisters graced us with their presence in Leeds was back in 2017. A lot has happened since then, including some substantial geographical ones for the bandmembers. In fact, there was a time when it seemed as if the band was no more: following the release of Adult in 2015, things went quiet, bar the unexpected release of the Dart EP in 2017 via Too Pure. The arrival of Fantastic Man in 2020 came as a surprise. A welcome one, but a surprise nevertheless. Consequently, tonight’s double-header with associated / offshoot ace USA Nails is a cause for excitement: their fifth album, Character Stop, released just last month is a truly outstanding example of the angular / mathy / noise genre. And what a lineup!

In a late change to the advertised schedule, Care Home’s debut is shelved, with the band replaced by Hull noisemakers Cannibal Animal. Sound-wise, they’ve changed a bit from when I last saw them back in 2018 – less swamp-gothy, more post punk in their leanings, less claustrophobic and with more breathing space in the songs. Yet for all that, it’s very clearly the same band.

Cannibal Animal

Cannibal Animal

The set lands with a throbbing drone before they power into some hefty chords. They’re not pretty, sonically or visually, but Christ, they kick ass. Strolling basslines and wandering spacious guitars shifting into ball-busting riffs. Busting bad moves throughout Luke Ellerington makes for a compelling and charismatic performer as he leads the band through a set that sounds like a collision between Pissed Jeans and The Fall.

The guy from BELK seems to have got his dates wrong and has come dressed for Hallowe’en – or at least made-up for Hallowe’en. The Leeds act are a screamy thrashy guitar and drum duo. They’re as heavy and fuck and there’s a mental moshpit from the off. Shifting pace and dynamics nonstop, it’s primitive and brutal with full on frenzied riffery and screaming vocals. Everything about their sound is abrasive, jarring, angular, although at times it’s a shade thin, and they possibly would benefit from some bass.

BELK

BELK

USA Nails don’t only benefit from some bass, but place the bass at front and centre to powerful effect. And that bass has that ribcage-rattling tearing cardboard sound reminiscent of Bob Weston. The emphasis may be on attack and hard volume, but they fully exploit the dynamics of these. The two guitars are often still for the verses bar feedback, bursting into life for the choruses. Along the way there are some expansive bass-led spoken word stretches that call to mind The Fall, with frequent forays into hardcore punk. It’s a strong set that flips between sub-two minutes and longer workouts, and it’s all killer.

Nails 2Nails 3

USA Nails

With the last train to York departing at 23:13 and Blacklisters not due on until 11pm, I was presented with the option of disappointment or sleeping on a bench. I gather that they were good, though, and just hope we don’t have to wait another four years.

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