Live Review: The Great Old Ones @ The Kraak Gallery, Manchester, 06/01/2013

Supported by Terzij de Horde, Burial + Wode

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In the dark intertwining back alleys of the Northern Quarter its safe to say I’ve lost faith in locating my destination. “I’ve fucking been to the place twice before”, it doesn’t help, the area is completely non descript. Luckily, before too long a man apparently sat in the middle of an alley sees our predicament and points at the venue about 5 feet away. How the hell would you know it’s here? No sign or acknowledgment of existence beyond a black door in a black alley of a side street. The Kraak Gallery is already fairly busy with a mix of people, ranging from trendy looking folk with hair from the 40’s and shirts that would make better curtains to a man who appears to have lost his way whilst hunting large game. The roof is draped with cargo netting and a ram’s skull sits on top of the drum kit, looking off the currently vacant stage as people stand idly or sit on the strategically placed couches waiting for the first band WODE.

The four piece from Manchester have an unrefined and elemental sound that fits well with the different aspects of their sound. Bastardized punk noise breaks up bleak and hypnotic interludes, for a minute or so at a time lulling, droning riffs with cold melodies and almost lethargic rhythms in the vein of Drudkh or Walknut absorb your consciousness, before being snapped back to the living with a more obnoxious kick of old school black metal punk fueled aggression, vocals drowned in filth and reverb. The crowd look transfixed for the entire set ands it’s apparent why. Despite not being around all that long or being very vocal about their goings on, (online at least) the band seem to have people interested. My only previous experience of the band was a gig at the Ducey Bridge, where it was so loud I thought I could feel the end of my spinal column wobbling my brain, and the only thing to be heard was a dull feedback that seemed to be coming from my chest. I’m glad to say with the band playing at sonic levels compatible with humans, they played a high quality set with a freshness that will hopefully continue vitalizing the UK black metal scene.

Veterans of the underground Burial are next to shake things up, injecting a significant amount of brutality to the night. Shredded minor chords, vaguely human twisted vocals and a relentless percussive assault paint a picture of morbid terror before being wrenched into heavy, ominous stabbing groove, that could pulp flesh into snotty little pieces of quivering meat, dragging you through the audio equivalent of murder on acid. That doesn’t sound very nice you might think, well, it isn’t, and that’s what’s nice about it.

A guilty pleasure of watching the ‘orrible trio was some trendy looking fellow that shouldn’t have bothered pretending to be interested in music for the night getting up on stage, unaware that his obnoxious and foolish behavior would see him ejected from it, quite violently. He hit the floor in front of the crowd with all the dignity of our scaly sea dwelling brothers, he got himself up, feigned aggression and skulked away quietly, realizing his existence was that of a fashionably dressed, well groomed exterior.

Although not attracting quite as much attention as some of the other bands, Burial’s loyal base of ferocity loving blackened death nuts were ever present, as is going to be the case with a gig like this in Manchester. The band’s material from their new album stood out as exceptionally grim and viscous in the overall destruction of their set. Purchase it and be smite into hell fire.

Terzij De Horde are a discordant bunch from Holland, with a style that would struggle to be any more oppressive. The negativity in their noise, projected through tangible distortion, is a mix of doom paced misery that plods, portentous, into frantic deranged riffing. When the band changes the pace there’s a strong punk influence but this doesn’t lose the apocalyptic vibe that the slower section’s builds. The vocals are all out continuous savagery for the entirety. The structures of the songs are similar in the way they mix between looming misery and then back into chaos, projecting the image of a joyless utopia that has an increasing number of people absorbed.

The band close with a song in tribute to H.P Lovecraft and as a introduction to The Great Old Ones, the band whom they’ve toured with. The bands compliment each other’s styles without treading on each other, Terzij being on the rougher, nastier side of things.

The Great Old Ones collect themselves on stage and play a simple introduction involving one guitar and effect that would be fitting for a decent, downwards, through endless pitch black narrow stairwells, into the weird and horrifying world of H.P Lovecraft. Despite there being three guitars in total when they kick in, the sound is clear and precise in timing. The layers are well utilized, frequently playing three different things at once. This doesn’t complicate the sound though, there’s no competing or over complicating needlessly with melodies and leads, the only crowding being in a physical sense on stage, maybe dodging the odd headstock. The band play music that building up, transcends to a powerful level using the layers of guitar and crashing drums; the crescendo comes and then fades away to minimalist foreboding notes and chords rung out into nothing. The style, although relevant of black metal, probably owes more to “post” styles, which is still too much of a generalization for the dynamics of the band. The dual attack of vocals are tortured rasps that fit well and emphasize the music; unfortunately lyrically I’m lost, but The Great Old Ones capture an atmosphere that could easily represent one of Lovecraft’s desolate and ancient cities, harboring all sorts of mind-fucking weirdness and malignancy.

The shouts for one more at the end of the night spoke for the quality of the band and the night in general at a great little venue that should be better used. People left happy and drunk, spilling across the various surrounding bars while I was forced to consider a far more evil prospect, waking at 7.30 to go to work after two weeks off, a terrible end to an awesome night.

Michael Collins

Originally published for ‘CLDH’.Check them out here

Click here to view photos from the night (Facebook)

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