Posts Tagged ‘Temple of Boom’

Christopher Nosnibor

Arriving at gigs in Leeds drenched is becoming not so much a habit as the norm for me by the looks of things. But unlike recent jaunts across the border to West Yorkshire, where I was caught in torrential precipitation, we’re in the middle of a heatwave. The humidity is off the scale, it’s rammed like a cattle freighter, and I’m not convinced the air conditioning is functioning in the vestibule I find myself standing. Consequently, I disembark with my shirt completely saturated ahead of what I know will be a warm gig in Leeds’ best venue for all things metal. And hot on the heels of Thou and Moloch on the same bill, tonight’s is another absolutely killer lineup.

Things are off to an abrasive start with harsh electronic duo Soft Issues. Gnarly electronic noise fizzes from the PA before hammering beats kick in. Samples fire off all over between the distorted, pain-filled screaming vocals and they’re switching patch-leads with mechanical precision as the mess of treble and pulsating lower-range synth oscillations grind forth. It’s relentless, repetitive, and brutally industrial, and there may be hints of NIN but this is way, way harsher, the obliterative wall of anguish-filled noise closer to Prurient than anything. It hurts.

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Soft Issues

Whipping Post’s goatee-sporting bassist may be wearing an REM T-Shirt, but there’s no Shinny Happy People vibe here. He churns out some strong, strolling basslines that provide the solid foundations for some gritty hardcore racket reminiscent of Touch and Go’s early 90s roster. Theirs is a sound that’s nicely angular, dirty, and dense, with lurching rhythms and no shortage of attack.

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Whipping Post

If things are already warm (and I’m so grateful cans of Scrumpy Jack are only £2.50 as I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it), then co-headliners Bad Breeding really turn up the heat, blasting in at 150 miles per hour with their brand of raging grindy hardcore. A band whose album liner notes and essays posted on their website reference Mark Fisher and American Psycho while dissecting the politics of Brexit while substantiating points with figures on GDP and a host of verifiable statistics, there’s some qualifiable intellect beyond the blizzards of rage they spew out on stage. And the force with which they do it is monstrously intense and gives rise to some energetic – but extremely well-natured – moshing. And yet again, I’m reminded that the nicest audiences are to be found at the most extreme shows.

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Bad Breeding

For a number, Bad Breeding are the headliners, and fair play. They were storming, and moreover, Uniform are a whole other kind of intense nasty. Their debut, Wake in Fright was a non-stop shoutfest with a pounding drum machine and raw, ragged guitar assault fused into a nightmarish sensory overload. The Long Walk added live drums to the mix, but in retaining that raw, unproduced approach, the sound didn’t change radically, but instead stepped things up a notch. So this was a band I’d been absolutely busting to see live.

And fucking hell, they know how to deliver. Perhaps it’s because the studio work has a live, immediate feel that on stage they replicate it so well – only with the added bonus of being able to see the sweat and the whites of their eyes from the front rows of a venue like this. The set explodes with ‘The Walk’, and it’s nothing short of devastating. Bloody, brutal, raw, it excavates the depths of nihilism and paranoia. They burn straight into ‘Human Condition’, the album’s second track, and it’s pulverising: everything’s overloading, and Michael Berdan’s wide-eyed, rage-spewing delivery is as menacing as hell. Everything blurs and melts with the heat and the blistering intensity of Uniform’s wall of noise. To complain it’s a bit one-key is to miss the point completely: Uniform savagely drive at that seem of gnarly, shouty rage that takes the template of snotty punk and distils it into something that’s so potent it could make you want to puke.

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Uniform

They piledrive home the end of a scorching and frankly punishing set with – I think – a brutal rendition of ‘Alone in the Dark’. I’m already lost. There’s no encore and we filter out. I’m drained, a husk, and so, so happy.

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Christopher Nosnibor

And yet again, after a soaking on my way to see Interpol in Leeds a fortnight ago, the heavens open to deliver a truly tropical downpour, a torrent of fair biblical proportions in stepping out of the station. It’s way to wet to have my phone out to sat-nav to the pub I’ve arranged to meet a mate in, so I take hasty refuge in The Scarboro Hotel.

It’s not hyperbole or dramatic scaremongering to say that this is climate change in effect. It’s been stiflingly hot, we’ve experienced high winds – which is why I left my umbrella at home: Poundland brollies and strong gusts don’t go together – and light showers and some flash downpours. But this precipitation isn’t so much a cloudfall as a monsoon, and as frustrating and mood-despoiling the soaking is, the bigger picture is that this is a sign of things to come. JG Ballard’s 1962 post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel The Drowned World is rapidly looking like future reportage rather than speculation.

It’s a good thing I’m heading to Temple of Boom in my drenched state. Live music invariably proves itself to be a mod-lifter, or at least the best conduit to a window of escapism, and never more than a night of full-throttle metal. It’s a genre I’ve come to appreciate almost exponentially over the last decade after spending years completely disinterested and dismissive. The irony that I considered metal somehow juvenile and primitive isn’t lost as I realise I’ve grown to grasp the sheer diversity of the – infinitely fragmented – genre, as well as the benefits of untrammelled catharsis as a form of therapy.

The tip I’d had ahead of the show suggested Vonnis were pedlars of fairly standard grindy thrash, and musically, this is fundamentally true. It’s all in the delivery, and I’m wondering a day on if their front-man’s antics were the result of drunkenness, insanity, or a combination of the two. Their Facebook bio records a history of ‘dislocated shoulders or open leg fractures’ and a ‘disregard for any kind of personal safety’, and they deliver on that. Tonight’s set found this guy piling up (and falling off) monitors, stumbling wildly, stripping from his boiler suit to socks and boxers and ending the set on the flor in front of the stage with his head in a bin. The whole thing was demented, and was a real horrorshow car-crash of a performance – but it was utterly compelling.

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Vonnis

Bismuth are compelling for all the right reasons, bashing out some monumental noise with drums and bass. By which I mean BASS. Arsequaking bass. Head-shredding bass. Immense bass drones that sound like Sunn O))) and Earth circa Earth 2. Simultaneously. Bass channelled through a pedal board the size of a cruise liner to the point it no longer sounds like bass. An age separates the trike of every chord, every explosive, punishing beat. Bismuth grind it out, low, slow and heavy, but with the full frequency spectrum: bass that sounds like a full band lineup with everything up to eleven, or even twelve.

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Bismuth

Tanya Byrne’s vocals range from a delicate and emotionally-charged melodic to full-blooded howl of pain: it’s all integral to Bismuth’s sound and intensity, and the set concludes with Tanya out in the audience, on her knees, shrieking and howling into a wall of feedback. It feels like the purest catharsis, and the entire room is on edge and close to breaking to bring down a devastating finish.

Whereas Bismuth’s sound is textured, detailed, and atmospheric, Moloch go all out for blunt force trauma. Lumbering riffage provides the backdrop to rasping guttural anguish. There’s something about the vocals, which register in the higher regions, and the way they contrast with the shuddering downtuned sludgefest. There’s also the complete lack of pretence or even any real kind of show involved.

“Hiya, we’re Moloch,” says Chris Braddock as he takes the mic. Cue a wail of feedback before everything crashes in and continues to grind away at a gut-churning crawl for the next forty punishing minutes.

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Moloch

With three guitars dominating the six-piece’s instrumentation, Thou have texture and density completely covered. And despite the fact they’ve been going some fourteen years with only two changes to the lineup, they still appear remarkably youthful. The ever-informative Encyclopaedia Metallum locates them in the bracket of ‘Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal’ and lists their lyrical themes as ‘Despair, Revolution, Societal collapse, Death.’ This does nothing to convey the intensity of their albums or the kind of performance they deliver – or, moreover, the nonchalance with which Bryan Funck – wild-eyed and grey-bearded – delivers his velociraptor vocal scream.

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Thou

It should be harrowing, hellish, but is precisely the opposite. To witness a band so finely-honed, channelling everything into a powerful and relentless piledriving assault is a beautiful and uplifting thing: elating, life-affirming. As they thunder through an immaculate set, I find I’m no longer in the room and everyone else has melted away. There is nothing but this moment, in which I find my mind is empty and I am floating, detached, wired into the music alone. Time stops and the sound becomes everything.

Christopher Nosnibor

For those who aren’t fans of extreme music, it’s often hard to see the appeal. ‘How can you listen to that, let alone enjoy it?’ is a common line of questioning. Often, the response can be boiled down to a single word: catharsis.

The one thing that always strikes me about events like these is just how friendly the atmosphere is. The fans are friendly and many, like me, seem shy and reserved – until they completely go mental in the moshpit. And it’s in this context that extreme music makes perfect sense. I may be nursing bruised ribs today after my quest for photos landed me in the line of danger but never once did I feel in any way threatened: it’s all freaks, outcasts and oddballs together in a safe environment.

What had initially been booked as a standard date on the UK leg of Full of Hell’s tour metamorphasised into an eleven-band extravaganza when circumstances dictated a change of promoter. And there wasn’t a weak act on the bill, and the first couple, Cheap Surgery and Hoof Glove both stood at the punkier end of the musical spectrum than the screaming metal end. It’s not so much that it was welcome to be eased in gently as a positive thing to be treated to some musical range: it’s not as if either was light or poppy, with Cheap Surgery evoking the spirit of bands like Penetration. Hoof Glove, meanwhile, are a band of two halves with a metal rhythm section onstage and an electronic noise duo at a table in front of it. Processed-to-fuck female vocals add a different shade of intensity to a grainy noise reminiscent in places of the abrasive angst of Xmal Deutchschland.

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Cheap Surgery                                               Hoof Glove

A close-cropped screamer in a Crass T-shirt leads the full-throttle attack of Hex, and it was midway through their confrontational, fiery set that the slam-dancing commenced, hinting at the shape of things to come.

Led by the Throat may look like four ordinary guys, but they’re the first band to bring the full-on snarling metal assault to proceedings, and they bring it from the first bar of their tight, powerful set. As he paces the stage, the singer emanates a malevolent energy that’s as powerful as his patterned shirt is tasteless.

I can’t remember when or where I last saw Groak, but I remember them being good, and this evening’s performance confirms my memory is correct. Singer / guitarist Ben Southern is wearing a Rudimentary Peni t-shirt and the band’s sludgy, dirgy churn is propelled – slowly – by Steve Myles’ crushing percussion (how many bands is this guy in?). This is music dredged from the pits of the lower regions of hell, and pretty much as intense as it gets. Or so you’d think. But it’s only 6:30 in the evening by the time they leave the stage, and we’re not even halfway through the lineup.

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Groak

Masters of Powerviolence Lugubrious Children, who released a spit EP with Groak last year are up next, and they’re punishing too. The trio bring the power and the pace, and the result is carnage.

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Lugubrious Children

It only gets better, and more intense, with Gets Worse. Very much a beards and long shorts band, they’re bristling additional strings, with a massively overdriven five-string bass bringing the low-end that grinds below a pair of seven-string guitars. And all of those stings are downtuned and sludged to the max. A single power chord sustains for a full minute before the juggernaut chug slams in. This is a full-on, balls-out racket that draws together the slow trudge of Godflesh and the tearing frenzy of Napalm Death to devastating effect.

Famine are one of those bands who just get better with every outing. Having seen them grow from a snotty two-piece into a thunderous, ferocious gut-ripping threesome who are tighter and more ferocious with every show. My notes from their set are sparse and only semi-legible, but in front of a home crowd, they’re assured and received the violently rapturous reception they deserved.

I’d been recommended Unyielding Love by a friend whose opinion I very much respect, and they didn’t disappoint, taking the snarling gnarliness to a whole other level. The seven-string guitar and five-string bass congeal into a thick glutinous sonic slime with optimum low-end. It’s driven by rapid-fire drumming that’s hard enough to crack any skull, and overlaid with brain-shredding electronic noise. Their relentlessly savage set can be perhaps defined as the sound of a goat’s skull being dragged underfoot about the stage echoing amidst a heavy organ drone, before processed reverby vocals erupt into a howling vortex of noise. And tat all actually happened, in real life.

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Unyielding Love

I’ve no idea who I saw performing a ‘secret set’ in the Meatlocker (the venue’s second stage, still draped with original plastic curtains because it was absolutely fucking heaving and I’d had a few beers by this point but they were intense and loud and brutal. But Full of Hell… Fucking hell. I’d run into Dylan Walker shortly before the set and was struck by just what an affable guy he was. On stage, of course, it’s another story: blasting ear-bleeding electronics and brutal vocals with a violent energy amidst a raging tempest of the harshest grindcore around, live shows don’t come more intensely visceral than this. How much of the set was lifted from the latest long-player, Trumpeting Ecstasy, I couldn’t say: I was too busy avoiding flailing feet and flying bodies, and clearly, the pain in my left side tells me I failed somewhere during the mayhem. But this…. THIS is catharsis.

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Full of Hell

I stopped to have my photo taken with some random strangers on my way out: they liked my hat. I may have drunk too much beer, but in the main, I was hitting the cool night air elated and exhilarated, and on a different plane from the one I had arrived on.

Christopher Nosnibor

Temple of Boom is the epitome of the underground venue. Not in geographical terms, but in that it puts on way cool gigs you have to be in the know to find out about. And you have to find the place. Even on my third visit, I found myself wondering if I was in the right place, as I wandered barren streets lined by warehouse units and esoteric businesses with reinforced steel roller covers festooned with graffiti over their doors and windows, and had to double-check the so-inconspicuous-as-to-be-almost-secret entrance. And stuff happens when it happens. 8pm start means there’ll be someone behind the bar. The first band may be on at 9, perhaps half past or whenever. But that’s the thing with the underground. It’s not mainstream, it’s not out there in the public domain, and you have to seek it out and invest some effort to reap the rewards. Arrows of Love are a band who justify any such efforts.

I’ve seen Arrows of Love on three previous occasions. And I can’t get enough of them. From the moment I heard the dirty, low-slung bass thud of ‘Honey’ I was hooked. And as a live act, they’re something else. Their shows are wildly unpredictable, cathartic celebrations of beautiful chaos during which anything could happen, and often does. So very predictable, they aren’t. They’re as likely to set the place on fire as to crash and burn. And that is every reason why they’re the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll band going right now. They really do exist on the edge.

The Franceens (predictably) kick ass when they finally take to the stage shortly after 10pm. Their energetic, choppy, punky indie is infectious in its own right, but live is where they really kill it. Guitarist / singer Dan Oliver Gott races into the crowd on a number of occasions, exuberant, larger than life. They’ve got songs, and hooks, too. Delivering high–octane rock action from beginning to end, it really is hard to fault ‘em.

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The Franceens

Scrawny leather jacket wearing skanks Ming City Rockers look like a rock band. By which I mean, if you were to gather together every stereotype of the last 40 years and distil it into a single act, it would be Ming City Rockers. The singer sports wildly backcombed hair and looks like he’s stepped out of a Chris Morris sketch, while the lead guitarist looks like she’s wandered in from an 80s fancy dress party where she’s gone as Strawberry Switchblade, but in Ian MacCulloch’s coat. If they were half as good as they think they are, they’d be awesome. Revelling in rock ‘n’ roll cliché only works with a heavy dose of irony, and if you’ve got some really strong songs. The red-lipsticked bassist has nice teeth though.

Ming City Rockers

Ming City Rockers

 

Arrows of Love are close to unveiling their second Bob Weston mastered long player, Product, mooted as being quite a progression from the squalling grunge racket of their debut, Everything’s Fucked. On the evidence of ‘Toad’, which they’ve recently put up for streaming, they’re venturing into even murkier, noisier, more angular, territory. They’re also showcasing a (relatively) new lineup: in replacing drummer Mike Frank and singer / guitarist Lyndsey Critchley, Craig Doporto and Alex Brown have got a major task in prospect. I did briefly meet them before they played, and like the rest of the band, they’re lovely people. It turns out they’re also bloody good on stage and possess the energy and charisma that’s so essential to the band’s style.

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Arrows of Love

It’s gone midnight when they take to the stage, and Nima Teranchi is rocking the Jaz Coleman look with untamed dark hair and utilitarian boiler suit (which makes a dazzling contrast with bassist Nuha’s electric blue locks and rather more slinky stagewear). He’s not low on intensity when in front of the mic, either, and the second they strike the first chord, everything about the band crackles with manic energy, and exude an ineffable magnetism. They’re beyond – and above – mere ‘cool’. Yes, they put on a show, but it’s not merely performance: there’s something almost transcendental about an Arrows of Love show, with five people completely immersed in the music and the moment.

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Arrows of Love

I soon realise that while trains between Leeds and York are good, there’s nothing between 00:45 and 02:15, and with a 6am start looming, I’m going to have to bail early. But then ‘early’ is relative…

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Arrows of Love

I manage to squeeze four songs before having to peg it, and while I’m itching to know what they’re going to do next, I’ve already seen enough to get a handle on the fact they’re on blistering form, and seriously loud. They’re already bigger outside their homeland, and may yet to really crack the Leeds scene and the north more generally, but shows like this can’t fail to build their reputation, and it’s hard to believe that Product won’t see them explode. If ever a band deserved global cult status, Arrows of Love do.