Tag Archives: doom metal

Review: Monolithian’s The Waning Moon

The mighty Monolithian have finally returned and they come baring a new 26 minute mini album called The Waning Moon. The blackened doom two-piece still manage to floor me with their enormous, devastating take on doom metal and with The Waning Moon they’ve even managed to cross over into new and unfamiliar territory.

However, before we get to said territory, opener Crone kicks things off and reminds us exactly what makes Monolithian one of the best low tempo metal bands out there. This 6 minute monster of a tune has a preposterously huge riff and a pounding rhythm that will certainly get those invisible oranges raised high. But then we get to the middle eight breakdown and the entire song steps up a notch with a black metal attack that will fuel a serious mosh pit or two. Crone is the sort of song that only Monolithian can make and it’s one of the strongest openings of any doom release.

But what have we here? The next song Nyarlathotep sees Monolithian reaching parts unknown; a reserved, psychedelic take on desert rock that’s expansive, atmospheric and hugely welcome. Monolithian once again manage to prove that despite being only two members strong, they still have a lot of ideas in reserve that can push their music into exciting new territory. It’s here where the album begins to show more variety in the song-writing and it proves that Monolithian are more than just a band who play slow, crushing doom flourished with fast bits.

The rest of The Waning Moon showcases the more familiar Monolithian sound of doom paired with black metal but now with the aforementioned exploration of desert rock, creating devastating slabs of sludgy, bass-lead metal that manages to sound utterly gargantuan. The scale of Monolithian’s music on The Waning Moon is verging on ridiculous, but it’s delivered with such confidence that it’s almost impossible not to lose yourself in.

The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.

9/10

Monolithian’s The Waning Moon is out now and available to buy direct from the band on limited edition purple vinyl.

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Review: Iron Witch’s A Harrowed Dawn

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It feels like Iron Witch’s debut album has been a hell of a long time coming and the journey that the band has gone through has certainly been an interesting one, with quite a few line-up changes over the years. Thankfully, A Harrowed Dawn is still very much an Iron Witch record and it’s probably the most expansive they’ve ever sounded.

On past releases, Iron Witch have definitely straddled the sludgier end of the metal spectrum, but with A Harrowed Dawn, the band have moved into a larger, doomier playing field. This darker, more brooding sound has given Iron Witch a new lease of life and the music on A Harrowed Dawn sounds utterly monolithic when you compare it to the band’s back catalogue.

Songs like Salvation through Nothing get to boast a riff so monstrously gargantuan that it becomes a wonderfully stompy time for all involved. We even get a weirdo, psychedelic breakdown in Machinery of Violence before it unleashes another crushing, mosh-pit riffstrosity. Iron Witch have never sounded so electric and the whole record sounds enormous thanks to the brilliant production job that puts the band’s past releases to shame.

Iron Witch also manage to do that thing I love about the best low tempo music; they don’t compromise playing slow for writing uninteresting songs. A lot of doom bands really bludgeon their riffs to death for far too long, but that’s never a problem with A Harrowed Dawn. It isn’t even that slow of a doom record; songs twist and turn in a surprisingly progressive manner like on the furious Under the Pyre, but Iron Witch always know when to get your attention and beat you with another massive riff. This really is a masterclass in doom metal song writing.

Iron Witch have certainly spent a long time getting to this record and at only 6 tracks long it is a bit slight for a long-player, but those years of writing and touring have turned them into a well-oiled, doom-making machine and A Harrowed Dawn is the realisation of all their achievements so far. This is easily the best and biggest sounding Iron Witch release to date and an essential purchase for any doom fan.

8/10

Iron Witch’s A Harrowed Dawn is out now and available to purchase from Secret Law Records.


Live Review: Sea Bastard, Hooden and Allfather at The Dev 20/8/16

The Dev is one of those venues that was clearly not originally designed to be a music venue. There’s about as much floor space in front of the stage to accommodate 20 people packed in tight, the ladies’ toilets are right next to the stage and there’s two massive speaker stacks situated at the front of the stage, obscuring the band. But hey, you can’t complain too much because tonight they’re hosting Sea Bastard, Hooden and Allfather for the grand old price of £Bugger All.

ALLFATHER
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Kicking things off with their special blend of sludge metal and hardcore, Allfather have been a band we’ve had our eyes on for a while. With two great EPs under their belt, the band take the stage with confidence and command their audience with ease. Allfather sound great live with the constant switch between bruising hardcore riffs and low-tempo, sludgy beatdowns being just as exciting live as it is on record. Allfather get a suitably warm reception which is lovely to see from the audience, and for the opening act no less.

HOODEN
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Things step up a gear for Hooden. The band deals in an aggressive form of hardcore punk that utilises a lot of bluesy guitar work to add an extra layer of punishment. Musically Hooden sound great, straddling the sort of punk sound that isn’t quite Cancer Bats and isn’t quite The Exploited but somewhere in between. Vocally is where the band falls down somewhat. Their vocalist certainly puts in an unhinged and wild performance, but his actual vocals suffer due to this. There’s no consistency here; the vocal phrasing seems improvised and he jumps around between low-end belching and high-pitched yelps and wailing and it’s pretty abrasive on the ears. Hooden put on a great show regardless but if they could reign in their vocalist a tad then they’d really be onto something special.

SEA BASTARD
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This is going to be a difficult passage to write. I don’t like to criticise bands, especially if they feature members of other bands I really adore (Oli used to play in the mighty War Wolf) and that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do here. Sea Bastard just aren’t for me. While their stompy, chunky doom metal is certainly commanding, there’s just not enough going on and it ends up sounding like the band play one continuous song with almost no discernible moments of interest. Sea Bastard structure their songs around slow tempos, a thunderous bass-line and lots of power chords, but there’s a distinct lack of riffs and hooks. It’s almost impossible to tell each song from the next and it just wasn’t engaging me in the way I like.


Review: The King is Blind’s Our Father

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East Anglian groove metal five piece The King is Blind have seen fit to drop their debut album Our Father and it’s probably one of the most diverse metal debuts I’ve heard in some time. Taking groove metal to its extremes, The King is Blind mix in elements of doom and black metal to create an album that’s bursting with ideas.

What’s instantly striking about The King is Blind is their unrelenting guitar work which is consistently exciting and unpredictable. Guitarists Lee Appleton and Paul Ryan-Reader are always prominent in the mix and often deal in a groovy, thrashy playing style that will remind you of bands like Sepultura and DevilDriver. This means Our Father is often punishing yet strangely catchy as the two guitarists manage to conjure up riffs like it’s no problem.

When The King is Blind are going hell for leather, they are one of the most exciting bands in underground metal. Tracks like Bloodlet Ascension, Amen and All the Daemons Are Here are savage, relentless metal songs that are loaded with piss and vinegar. These songs often deal in black metal-style tremolo picking which also adds to the sheer intensity of this aural assault. Enough can’t be said about how visceral and exciting The King is Blind are when they decide to be the heaviest band in the UK.

Where Our Father unfortunately falls down is in its experimentation with doom metal. The one-two punch of opening tracks Genesis Refracted and Fragility Becomes Wrath is unfortunately stopped short by the lurching doom track Mors Somnis. While not necessarily a bad song, slowing the pace this early into the record is strangely jarring. When doom tracks keep showing themselves throughout the record you often wonder whether The King is Blind are dealing with too many metal styles as their sound becomes inconsistent.

Sometimes the addition of doom actually works quite well and it’s during tracks that meld it with the band’s groove metal sound. Venin and Devoured in particular like to change between doom and the faster, thrashier style and it works infinitely better as the impact of the band’s break-neck speed is more striking when it follows a big, foreboding, doom groove.

The King is Blind have made a great debut album with Our Father and it’s clear that a lot of diverse metal bands influence their sound. Unfortunately for the band it means that they have a hard time finding a sound that’s truly theirs and this creates some inconsistency. Regardless, this is a strong start to the band’s career and I’m confident they’ll only get better from here.

7/10

The King is Blind’s Our Father is out now through Cacophonous Records.


Total Rock: Catbird’s Sunday Roasting 17/1/2016

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On Sunday the 17th of January 2016 we finally returned to Total Rock to appear on Catbird’s Sunday Roasting! If you missed our appearance on the show then you can click below to listen to the podcast on MixCloud. Here’s a list of our picks and the time-stamps for each song are listed beside them:

11:59 – SikTh – Philistine Philosophies
42:18 – Boxkite – Cycles
50:29 – TORPOR – As Waves Crash
1:04:23 – Gnarwolves – Boneyard
1:14:25 – I, The Lion – Hold Strong
1:20:21 – Eulogy – Deaf Cult
1:44:17 – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs
1:50:20 – Iced Out – Man’s Ruin
1:53:58 – TEEF – Consumed
1:56:25 – Samoans – Stompbox
2:05:06 – Mage – One for the Road


Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2015

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10) Let’s Talk Daggers – A Beautiful Life

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“Regardless, Let’s Talk Daggers have made one of the most electric rock albums of the year. If you can appreciate guitar music that doesn’t sacrifice technicality for song-writing then Let’s Talk Daggers have delivered a record that does just that and even more. A Beautiful Life is an absolute tidal wave of riffs, tempo changes and yelping and despite the madness of its contents, Let’s Talk Daggers have brought it all together into one cohesive yet exhausting piece.”

Click here to read the full review.

9) Limb – Terminal

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“Terminal is the natural continuation from Limb’s self-titled debut and it’s an infinitely more enjoyable and masterfully crafted slab of hard rock. The band haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to get better on every record they release. The pressure is certainly on for the next release, lads!”

Click here to read the full review.

8) Torpor – From Nothing Comes Everything

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London doom behemoth Torpor wiped the floor with the rest of the doom offerings this year. The long-form nature of Torpor’s songs is beautifully tempered by the bands wonderful song-writing which ebbs and flows in a wonderfully natural way that means that 11 minute monsters like From This Time never outstay their welcome. Every riff on From Nothing Comes Everything is a crushing beast of a thing that demands some serious head-banging. This record is a real masterclass of doom song-writing.

Full review coming soon.

7) Svalbard – One Day All This Will End

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“By the end of the closing moments of Lily, Svalbard have taken you on a post hardcore journey like no other. One Day All This Will End is one of the best punk releases birthed in the UK and Svalbard have mastered an amazingly eclectic sound that’s equal parts angry, beautiful and forlorn. One Day All This Will End is essential listening to fans of post hardcore and a welcoming introduction to anyone looking to explore the more progressive side of hardcore.”

Click here to read the full review.

6) Employed to Serve – Greyer Than You Remember

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“It’s impossible to justify any criticism towards this record. Employed to Serve have absolutely mastered their craft and if dense, bastard-heavy hardcore is your thing than Greyer than You Remember is filled wall-to-wall with some of the genre’s finest moments. The album barely gives you a moment to breath in favour of demanding you mosh harder and it’s almost euphoric in its density.”

Click here to read the full review.

5) xRepentancex – The Sickness of Eden

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“xRepentancex have delivered a debut album that’s so furious it feels like it could tear apart at the seams. The Sickness of Eden is a hardcore record every fan of the genre should own and it’s almost beautiful in its sheer relentlessness. God knows how you follow an album this consistent. Good luck guys.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Press to Meco – Good Intent

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“Press to Meco have delivered an album that showcases exactly what the trio are capable of. It’s a glorious, exciting monster of a record that is stuffed with technical wizardry and choruses so big that they deserve to be blasted across festival audiences all summer long.”

Click here to read the full review.

3) Old Skin – Beneath the Trees

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Old Skin’s debut album was the most bittersweet release of the year because while it is one of the best metallic hardcore albums this country has ever produced, its release also marked the demise of the band. Given away as a pay-what-you-want download to mark the final chapter of Old Skin’s career, this is an apocalyptic hardcore onslaught that never lets up. Old Skin might be gone but they’ve left behind one of the most disgustingly heavy records this country has ever produced and it deserves to be heard by everyone.

Full review coming soon.

2) Oblivionized – Life is a Struggle, Give Up

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“Life is a Struggle, Give Up is Oblivionized firing on all cylinders. This is an unforgiving attack of tech-metal, grind and deathcore that is sculpted with finite detail and it’s not afraid to hit you over the head with a monolithic riff for good measure. This might be an exhausting ordeal on your first listen, but give it the time it deserves and it will slowly unveil a metal record for the ages.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Caïna – Setter of Unseen Snares

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“Setter of Unseen Snares is an album of unbridled fury, bleak atmosphere and eventually, shimmering post metal beauty. This is one of the most diverse and brilliantly executed black metal albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and it deserves to be heard by more than just fans of the genre.”

Click here to read the full review.

Notable Mentions
Monolithian – The Finest Day I Ever Lived, Was When Tomorrow Never Came. (click here to read the full review)


Year End: The 10 Best EPs of 2015

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10) Geist – Faith Healing

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Faith Healing ends with a monologue about the futility of worshipping a God who hasn’t done anything to prove that he actually, “loves you”. It’s a stark, bleak ending to an EP loaded with some of the most unforgiving hardcore the UK has to offer and a timely reminder that we need bands like Geist to provide a visceral release from the shitstorm that is real life.

Click here to read the full review.

9) Boxkite – Self Titled

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“Boxkite have burst out the gates with a hardcore debut that doesn’t mess about. This is 6 tracks of solid, bouncy yet strangely forlorn punk that leaves a serious mark. Anyone looking for the next great UK hardcore band might want to seriously consider grabbing Boxkite’s debut EP while it’s hot; you won’t regret it.”

Click here to read the full review.

8) Eulogy – Eternal Worth

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“Eulogy have hit their stride on Eternal Worth. This is a record that doesn’t mess about and gets straight to the point. This is a laser-focussed metallic hardcore assault that is big on groove and if the name change wasn’t a big enough indicator, it marks an important step up for Eulogy as a band.”

Click here to read the full review.

7) Simmer – Yellow Streak

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“Simmer’s Yellow Streak is a rare gem of a record. The EP is full of soaring melodies and satisfying riffs that are punctuated with a beautifully reflective vocal performance. Even though this is only the band’s second EP, it feels like they’ve already mastered their craft and Yellow Streak might be a defining moment in their career.”

Click here to read the full review.

6) Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Earth Hog

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“Earth Hog is an easy recommendation to make. If you’ve ever enjoyed a riff that might result in whiplash then Chubby have delivered an absolute haven of guitar wizardry. Earth Hog is loaded with some of the best grooves stoner rock has to offer and it’s one of the most satisfying debuts of any band.”

Click here to read the full review.

5) I, The Lion – Run

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“I, The Lion’s Run is a wonderful celebration of riff rock. It’s a gargantuan-sounding EP loaded with some of alt-rock’s most thunderous melodies and it constantly evolves and welcomes new ideas into it’s already accomplished sound. A lacklustre opening hides one of rock’s most enjoyable EPs and I, The Lion need to be a band you start paying immediate attention to.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Iced Out – Man’s Ruin

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“Iced Out have finally found their comfort zone. Man’s Ruin is an enormous, towering beast of an EP that sees the band embrace slower tempos and tunings so low you might soil yourself. Now it’s time for Iced Out to take their sludgecore leanings and finally deliver the sort of devastating album that Man’s Ruin is threatening to. Good luck, boys; we’re looking forward to it.”

Click here to read the full review.

3) Maths – The Fires Courting the Sea

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“Maths’ The Fires Courting the Sea is a phenomenal melodic punk record which manages to cram some of the most beautiful yet utterly pissed off music it can into its 10 minutes. Maths are still one of the UK underground’s most treasured acts and it would be sacrilege for any punk fan to skip on this record. You know what to do.”

Click here to read the full review.

2) SikTh – Opacities

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“Opacities is a fantastic comeback by one of the most dearly missed UK metal acts. SikTh are just as exciting and vital as they’ve ever been and despite the 9 year gap between Opacities and Death of a Dead Day, it genuinely feels like the band have never been away. Opacities has a wonderfully natural progression to it and it sounds exactly like the follow-up to Death of a Dead Day that we all dreamed of. It feels wonderful to finally say this but welcome back SikTh. We’ve really missed you.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) TEEF – Admit Defeat

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“TEEF have put together one of punk’s brightest moments. Admit Defeat is a non-stop powerhouse of grotty violence that’s amazingly memorable despite its aggression. No band in the UK has managed to meld fury with song-writing this catchy nearly as well as TEEF have managed to here and it’s a massive shame that the band won’t be making anymore music. Admit Defeat might be the last TEEF record but as swan-songs go, this couldn’t be any better.”

Click here to read the full review.


Year End: The Best 5 Splits of 2015

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5) Nomadic Rituals/Tome

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“This 14 minute behemoth entitled The Great Dying begins with a gentle, low-end rumble and then unleashes a horrendous, down-tuned chord that could shake a building to its foundation.”

“Clocking in at 11 minutes, Tome deal in a similar, funeral-doom-esque march but their riffs are more memorable in comparison to Nomadic Rituals who use their guitars to build atmosphere.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Yards/Astrid Lindgren/Rites/We Are Dust

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This is an extremely diverse offering of various punk subgenres. Smithsfoodgroup and LTD Records managed to band together UK hardcore punk mob Yards, Polish screamo merchants Astrid Lindgren, Netherlands emo outfit Rites and German metallic hardcore bruisers We Are Dust for this hugely eclectic but shouty offering. Special mention has to be given to Yards who manage to sound more furious than ever.

Full review coming soon.

3) Oi Polloi/Grand Collapse

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What we have here is a double-dose of lairy punk from oiky punk stalwarts Oi Polloi and Scumscene favourites Grand Collapse. While Oi Polloi get straight to the point and generally put together songs that have more memorable hooks (e.g. GCHQFU), Grand Collapse continue to tear a seriously aggressive streak through the UK underground punk scene and songs like Turn Coat are an absolutely vicious riff attack.

Full review coming soon.

2) Samoans/Freeze the Atlantic

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“This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Irk/Wren

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What an absolutely electric offering this split is. Irk continue to blow us away with their groove-laden blend of tech metal and noise rock. There is simply nothing as satisfyingly unique as Irk and you have to make sure you’re exposed to their music right away. London doomsters Wren also put together a hearty selection of doom anthems that encapsulate the bleak feeling of loneliness. This is extremely dark and brooding metal that is perfectly executed. This is an essential split for fans of heavy music.

Full review coming soon.

Notable Mentions
Bastions/Burning Bright – Swan Songs
Employed to Serve/A Ghost Orchestra


News: Mammoth New Pay-What-You-Want Sampler from Smithsfoodgroup Available Now

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Our friends at Smithsfoodgroup have curated an enormous 57 song sampler which you can stream and download below.

This pay-what-you-want sampler features music from Scumscene favourites Venom Prison, Svalbard, Old Skin, Ithaca, Employed to Serve, Artemis, Rolo Tomassi, Eulogy, OHHMS, Oblivionized, Yards and many, many more. This is an absolutely essential download for fans of heavy music that we cannot recommend enough. Hop to it:


Live Review: Crowhurst feat. Caïna, Conjurer and Warren Schoenbright at The Unicorn, Camden 19/9/2015

Power electronics (or noise music) is a daunting and very strange genre of music to get involved in. Pushing heaviness to its absolute extreme, it favours atmosphere and texture over melody. A lot of people are very quick to dismiss it because without melody, is it really music? As tonight’s evening’s entertainment manages to prove, noise music needs a certain level of context to enjoy and if you’ve not been to see live noise show then it’s something we’d highly recommend.

Warren Schoenbright
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The evening’s proceedings begin with Warren Schoenbright, a two piece noise act that instantly set the tone. Drowning the room in darkness except for a single, dangling lightbulb from Daniel McClennan’s drum-kit, Warren Schoenbright created a beautifully minimalist atmosphere through their use of delicate electronics that were punctuated with bursts of fury. The heavier moments of the band’s music were delivered by a blistering performance from McClennan and an abrasive explosion of sharp, white noise from Matthew Pastkewicz. It was masterfully structured as well. The band’s performance played out as a single piece of music with many movements and the addition of McClennan’s drumming abilities as opposed to simply having Pastkewicz use synthetic drums added an engaging performance element to the band’s music. This was an eerie yet vicious performance that cleverly managed to build cautious tension before letting loose. This was a really fantastic start.

Conjurer
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Sadly what followed was an odd booking that didn’t sit well with the rest of the evening’s acts. Conjurer are a death metal band that frequently drop into moments of down-tempo doom and the onslaught of guitar-derived heaviness killed the atmosphere that Warren Schoenbright had worked so well to create. Conjurer are by no means a bad band and they are clearly a very talented group of musicians, it’s just they needed to be on the bill of a death or black metal show to really work. Conjurer felt like a fish out of water and while there was plenty to enjoy thanks to their carefully structured and somewhat bleak sound, they simply killed the atmospherics that had previously bathed the venue in such a carefully crafted way.

Caïna
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Luckily when Caïna took to the stage, we were back in familiar territory. If you’re not familiar with Caïna as a two-piece then you might be confused as to why the black metal act were making harsh noise via a laptop and microphone. When the band tour as just Andy Curtis-Brignell and Laurence Taylor, they become a nightmarish noise act that drag their audience into the hell they create. Taylor stalks the audience with a hugely engaging yet exhausting performance that sees the man spasm and convulse around the room while screaming and howling into people’s faces. It’s a stark, vicious and haunting performance that perfectly complimented the dense wall of electronic noise and beats that were being generated by Curtis-Brignell. When you’re standing in a room being utterly drowned in atmosphere like this, noise music just makes sense. This was easily some of the best performance art we’ve witnessed.

Crowhurst
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Finally it was time for Crowhurst to take the stage. The one-man noise act from Los Angeles easily had the most oppressive sound of the evening. Crowhurst creates a hugely dense wall of sound that rattles its way into your very core. Crowhurst’s music is something you can genuinely feel and it’s this bizarre feedback-loop that keeps you connected to the music. Sadly Crowhurst suffers from not having a stronger performance element as he cannot leave his laptop to engage with his audience in the same way Caïna can. It’s also a shame that Crowhurst’s set is considerably shorter than the others as it would have been nice to spend more time in the crushing atmosphere he was creating.

Despite a booking that didn’t work in the context of the other acts performing tonight, Warren Schoenbright, Caïna and Crowhurst all delivered performances that deserve to be experienced. If you’re still on the fence about power electronics then make sure you experience it live because the dense, haunting atmosphere it creates is like nothing else in extreme music.