Posts Tagged ‘Temple of Boom’

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.

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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.

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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.