Big Business @ The Key Club, Leeds, 21/11/2014

+ Black Moth + Blacklisters 

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When The Cockpit in Leeds closed down earlier in the year after 20 years in the business, it was a day of sadness for not just myself, but for many. The venue had been a hub for indie and rock in the city, hosting many gigs across the years which indeed saw many bands pass through en route to greater arenas. Sadly, it was deemed beyond economical repair and so the venue, situated underneath the busy railway station and affectionately resembling an air raid shelter, was closed down to perhaps the surprise of some. Indeed it was held in high regard and anyone who ever passed through that venue’s doors for a show will attest to that.

 

It seems endemic of the fate that seems to await many rock and alternative venues in this day and age, but in true testament to the adage that rock will never die (unless you’re Gene Simmons of course), venues tend to spring back up, in the big cities at least, and this is true of the Key Club, launched by former owners of the Cockpit, itself located where resided the club’s former Bassment and Subculture venues, in which I saw Darkest Hour years ago, and played as a member of a band respectively. Not much has changed about the place, bar the stage being moved from the back of the venue to the front, and a balcony overlooking the main floor now walled over, so you can’t see who’s off for a quick slash any more. Not that you’d want to anyway. Still, it holds some good memories for me and so I’m happy to see it back in use.

First up tonight are Blacklisters, whom are thankfully more focused on the task at hand than when I last saw them at the Brudenell Social Club supporting Dope Body. I want them to succeed at their craft and they aren’t too shabby tonight, even if the crowd aren’t too enthused at this point. The new material they play fits in neatly with older material including their destroying  rendition of Kasabian’s ‘Clubfoot’ and ‘Trickfuck’. Then there’s Black Moth, a local quintet who’ve made a few waves recently on bigger pages than this one. Their frontwoman adds a swagger to their proposition which isn’t exactly unique – driving dirty rock riffs amidst a slightly occult tone – but they know how to get a crowd going and there is enough life in their songs to consider them potentially outgrowing the confines of venues the size of the Key Club.

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Black Moth

Big Business, much like the Key Club owners, had their hand forced somewhat as back surgery for Scott Martin resulted in the guitarist sitting outside the band’s UK tour, which is currently ongoing as they support Mastodon. Alas, it’s the original two-piece of Jared Warren and Coady Willis, of Karp, Murder City Devils, the Melvins and just about anything righteous, who turn up, announcing themselves in showbiz style, before getting into material from their latest release, ‘Battlefields Forever’. It’s at frenetic pace to begin with, with ‘Chump Chance’ and ‘No Vowels’ quickly getting out of the traps before a fun run through ‘Hands Up’, which the front rows of the crowd duly take part in by raising their hands skywards to its refrain. The set seems a short one – only seven songs, which even an extended version of ‘Just As The Day is Dawning’ hardly filling up set time, but for whatever brevity the band make up for in effort and energy. Warren pumps out the low grooves and Willis just goes all animal like always, making this performance a particularly righteous one by the time ‘Lonely Lyle’ stomps to a conclusion.

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During that last song I rocked out a little too hard and my glasses flew off my head. Alas, they were found minutes later, trodden on and no use to man nor beast. Ah well. It didn’t detract from an enjoyable evening as neither did the rain that poured into the night.

Peter Clegg

XII Boar unleash cover of Motörhead’s ‘Damage Case’

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It’s always good to see a UK band going from strength to strength despite the ignorance of the masses, and XII Boar are a fine example of such exponence, having released several killer EPs and singles including this year’s 7″ ‘Truck Stop Baby‘. The band have now revealed a previously unreleased recording from that record’s sessions, in the mold of a tribute to the legendary Motörhead’s ‘Damage Case’, hallmarked by the trio’s wicked blend of sludge, stoner rock and blues, marks of which are left all over this version. It rocks from one style to enough, dropping into the bluesy section with an ‘eins, zwei, drei, vier!‘ and the result is emphatic enough for this to be considered one of my favourite Motörhead covers around.

The cover is available on their Bandcamp page and can be streamed and downloaded for free. You can stream it below here too. Get on it!

Live Review: Yob + Pallbearer @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 7/9/2014

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The date of this gig coincided nicely with the oncoming on my 30th birthday, for which I used this gig as sort of a celebratory gift. Indeed, to be able to go and witness two bands in their prime such as Oregon’s Yob, and Little Rock, Arkansas’ Pallbearer, is one of the best tickets a fan of such bands could ever ask for, and it’s no surprise the fans are gathering in droves outside the Brudenell Social Club, a top busy venue that’s been hoovering up the best gigs to LS6 in the wake of inner city venues closing.

I must say admittedly I didn’t go inside early for BongCauldron, who were lined up as the opening act for tonight’s double header (sorry lads), but judging from how they sounded from outside the venue they sound proper tight as a band and maybe next time I won’t leave it til nearly main event time to enter the venue. Really not like me at all but I don’t do nights out very often these days and I guess I got lost in the catching up.

That said, the headliners are the reason everyone is here, and a good proportion of that can be attributed to Pallbearer and their rapid rise in the ranks of heavy music. Now touring in support of their second album ‘Foundations of Burden‘, the quartet plough through a five song set that excites existing fans and surely scooped up many more in the process. ‘Watcher in the Dark’ sounds particularly devastating tonight with that opening riff, although the shredding solo is drowned out by the mix on offer. For the last two tracks they delve back into their rapturously received debut LP ‘Sorrow and Extinction‘, with closer ‘Given to the Grave’ proving to be as soul-crushing as always. This band do not waste riffs, and not a riff is wasted on the audience. The twin harmonies between frontman Brett Campbell and guitarist Devin Holt compliment each man considerably, but its the way the group harnesses their individual weight into a collective focus that highlights why they’ll soon be headlining their own tours outright on a regular basis.

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Pallbearer

As a trio Yob don’t quite fill up the stage with such a presence as their contemporaries, but not that it’s ever mattered. Just because you number only three doesn’t mean you can’t make a thunderous noise and Yob over the years have evolved to make some of the most expansive and weightbearing doom ever heard. This is in evidence tonight as they dedicate the majority of their setlist to their new album ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend‘, and it’s a joy to hear the new tracks in the surroundings of the Brudenell. ‘Nothing to Win’ sounds particularly excellent, with the rolling drums stirring up a cauldron of tension with one hell of a release with the chorus, and ‘Marrow’ sounds absolutely majestic in a live setting. Just as it appears they’re done, members of the crowd shout for more and responding to one or two shouting for ‘Quantum Mystic’; they duly oblige, ‘by request’ and drop into the long time staple of their set, finishing off in style and making sure no one leaves the Brudenell shortchanged.

My camera packed up before I could get any decent pictures of Yob, sadly. All in all though, a top night and a complete show of excellence from two bands at respectively different points in their careers, pushing ahead at the forefront of doom metal.

Peter Clegg

Water Torture – Pillbox

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Water Torture
Pillbox
Nerve Altar

The Buffalo powerviolence trio Water Torture recently dropped their debut full length ‘Pillbox’ into the world and if you’ve been following their early adventures, mapped across various EPs and split releases, this record marks the fruition of true promise and then some. ‘Pillbox’ is seventeen tracks long, and its refreshing in its variation – it can loosely be described as grind/powerviolence but barely any two tracks are the truly the same. Numerous tracks and passages of the album see noise elements swathed between low-end sludge grooves and guttural grind, often tacked onto the end of short blasts of despairing energy, almost like white noise or the dying noises of a machine, and occasionally marked as single tracks of pure noise, e.g. ‘Product One’, a cavernous, drenching wall of howling noise. Not too dissimilar from the approach of acts such as Iron Lung, and fans of that sort of stuff are bound to get into this. Indeed this makes for a much more dynamic grind album – not just stuck at one pace, but taking in sludge and dark acoustic elements – the track ‘Creature of Repetition’ is free of noise and grind elements and owes more to classical in its foreboding arrangement. Having cut their teeth on numerous split releases since forming in 2011, ‘Pillbox‘ is the record that should really get people to sit up and take notice of Water Torture. A band willing to take risks and make primal mechanical animals of us all.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Pillbox’ here
Pre-order the vinyl LP here
Stream it below:

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Bongripper – Miserable

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Bongripper
Miserable

Following their split adventures in 2013, with hardcore/grind mob Hate and British doom compadres and everyone’s new favourites Conan, Chicago, Illinois’ Bongripper step back into their own shadows with their latest new album ‘Miserable’ comprises ‘just’ three tracks; ‘just’ because the shortest times at 17:48, while the album closes with a monumental 28:25 monolith. And that’s not without mentioning the supreme Mike Miller artwork, which combines to make a thunderous stallion of a record.

Bongripper have always been one of the most compelling instrumental doom bands to listen to, because this know how to harness a riff and then some. ‘Endless’ is a positive reminder of this – that first riff is thick and chewy like beef biltong, the second a sweet doom chugger – but of course I could go on describing every riff and it would get a bit tedious. Simply, Bongripper still retain the knack of knowing when to dispense with one riff and move onto the next of their seemingly abyssal stack of them, moving from a sense of grooviness to one that sounds ominously evil, and this one is no different, eventually culminating in near enough white noise. ‘Descent’ is equally malevolent, with some of the most thunderous booms ringing in from about nine minutes in, before dropping into a spacey, cavernous outro than perfectly sums up the songs title – it feels lonely, foreboding, even despairing, how you should feel when descending the depths. ‘Into Ruin’ caps off the whole thing with some superb headbang-inducing riffs and more low end crawls before unexpectedly alley-ooping you with a fast stoner-thrash section before dropping back into another tormentous riff. I just love how much they can pack into a song like this when their minds are at it.

This has been available for a little while now and I strongly urge you to check it out if you haven’t already. Links are below – you can stream the whole thing too and you too will find yourselves descending into ruin endlessly.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Miserablehere (download); or here (CD – vinyl presently sold out)

Stream it below:

Official site
Official store
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Bandcamp

Nightfell – The Living Ever Mourn

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Nightfell
The Living Ever Mourn
Southern Lord/Parasitic

Nightfell is a new band comprising of its two core members Todd Burdette (Tragedy, His Hero is Gone) and Tim Call (Aldebaran, Shadow of the Torturer), collecting here as Nightfell, a two-piece project which has recently released their debut album ‘The Living Ever Mourn’. As members of some of their respectively critically acclaimed and loved underground work, you would expect Nightfell to meet those high standards, and ‘The Living Ever Mourn’ doesn’t let anyone down. It’s a mix of Burdette’s and Call’s collective experience, leaning more towards Call’s doom worship in more ways than one, but underneath some of the trudge and plaintive mood is some ripping riffs and thunderous strikes. The guitar tone, particularly during the shredding, has a whiff of Amon Amarth about it, though you won’t find any odes to vikings or Norseology here. Burdette’s vocals are often deep growls if not guttural and connect with some wicked moments – yes, the black metal ‘ugh’ is often overused but even in its sheer simplicity, it boosts the first part of ‘The Last Disease’, which moves at a fast if not quite frenetic tempo before shifting into a slower dirge to finish. Much of the material here works in pretty much the same manner, barring ‘Empty Prayers’, an incredible dirge featuring clean, chanted vocals, a heavy, almost weeping riff, occasionally punctuated with a bit of slide for that added punch. They could have made that song twice as long and it would still be perfect. And ‘Altars To Wrath’ is one hell of a track that twists and writhes its listener into enduring pain. I’m not sure whether this will be a one-off project from Burdette and Call, but I would be happy for more Nightfell in future. Splendid stuff.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘The Living Ever Mourn’ here
Stream it below:

Bandcamp

Fange – Poisse

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Fange
Poisse
Cold Dark Matter

Fange are a trio from Rennes, France, specializing in dirty, harsh, downtuned sludge, with ‘Poisse’, their debut release, exemplifying what you’d expect to hear from a band of such description – indeed the amount of quality sludge and doom I’ve already heard this year is meaning have to really pore through the fibres of each release. ‘Poisse’, I’m pleased to say, is among the better ones. They feature drummer Baptiste Gautier-Lorenzo (of Brain Pyramid) in their line-up, but this is far from the psychedelic retro worship of that band, and instead what they do is in no way trippy or upbeat. Fange are jarring, viscous and thoroughly oppressive in nature, striding firmly amidst stomach-churning riffage and noise elements. They do nod to certain allowances of atmosphere (the awesome feedback/noise intro to ‘Cloches Fendues’ sets the tone brilliantly), while the start of ‘Ammoniac’ sets off on a ripping hardcore punk tangent before settling back into what the band does best. And they do it really well – it’s not original (not much is these days) but its succeeds in creating a downtrodden vibe. The band’s name translates as ‘mire’, which is quite appropriate considering the depth of groove, fuzz and snarl, amidst a swirling brew of discordant aggravation existing in the interminable void they create. Check out the stream below and enjoy some of the harshest noise to come from over the Channel.

<p style="text-align:right;”>Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Poisse’ here (name-your-price download/limited CD)
Stream it below:

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