Black Breath/The Mire/No Coast/Chronos at Brighton Hydrant, Monday 11 July 2011.
Words: G. Lukes
Photos: Gemma Shaw (http://gloomylightsphotography.co.uk/)
Have you ever seen John Carpenter’s “The Fog“? The movie depicted the town of Antonio Bay being invaded by the ghosts of dead sailors. Leprous cadavers assaulted a seaside resort on their centenary, terrorising the residents and raining death on their parade. Now, I can’t claim to have been there on that particular night, but I imagine the horror must have been somewhat akin to what it felt like the day Seattle’s Black Breath hit Brighton town, sullying the sunny coast with their murky brand of crossover, vomiting pestilence on your ice-cream and leaving a big steaming turd on your deckchair.
Tonight, four support bands have been solicited with preceding the debauchery. Weary that bill’s so abundant with acts can be either a blessing or an endurance challenge, we arrive too late to assess which category Here There Be Monsters fall into. So instead, we begin to sink our first beers of the day to the strains of Chronos treading the boards.
The band launch into their pounding, rumbling set; a mix of soaring post-metal riffs and pummeling hardcore reminiscent of Devil Sold His Soul. The Kent group are early into their existence but already seem to be heading in the right direction. At times, the building walls of sharpened riffing and the use of serrated vocals even manage to evoke luminaries such as Amen-Ra. They brandish a hefty fusion of light and shade and, while their song writing is currently lacking somewhat in impact and presence, their live show makes up for this with the sheer exuberance of their performance. An engaging prospect, you can take a listen at http://chronos.bandcamp.com/
According to the times plastered on the venue walls, No Coast have a set scheduled of only twenty minutes. I’d be surprised if they barely scratched past half that mark with their brand of old school , grinding screamo and fastcore. Sticking largely to the template set by the innovators in the nineties, any criticisms remain pretty much the same as those levelled at the pioneers of the genre; namely a general lack of variety. That said, the longer compositions manage to showcase enough promise and even hints of diversity. If the likes of Orchid, Reversal of Man and Combatwoundedveteren float your boat, and make your trousers tighten in excitement, these are one act to keep your beady eyes on.
Talking of tight trousers, the hipster Deathstar must have been close by with its tractor-beam cranked up to full, judging by the appearance of the freshly-packed crowd as The Mire take to the stage. As for the band themselves, born from the ashes of Bossk and Centurion, the former’s hallmarks are brazenly etched all over the sound. The band churn out a sludgey post-metal style similar to “Celestial“-era Isis, combined with the spacious, epic guitar work of Cult of Luna and peppered with choruses that wouldn’t sound out of place on a melodic post-hardcore record. On record, the band churn and glide, but live they seemed flat and grounded. Perhaps it was where I was standing, but the vocals didn’t seem to hit the mark and the riffs lacked moxie. Following the ferocity of the previous bands, they appeared to lack that knockout blow.
There was certainly no pulling of the punches as far as Black Breath were concerned. They hit the stage with impact and drove headfirst into “I Am Beyond”, the grooving riffs and monstrous second-half breakdown inducing whiplash for the majority of those in attendance. The crowd may have waned slightly over the course of the set, but those that remained showed their appreciation between songs as a scant but vibrant pit erupted erratically in front of the stage. The full sound mix really benefited the band and their pitch-black take on thrashing hardcore, as they exploded through a set splattered with scuzzy, crust-laden riffing. They tore through the majority of their debut full length, “Heavy Breathing”, including the tremolo-laden “Escape from Death” and the anthemic “Eat the Witch“.
Black Breath were one of the most horrifically enjoyable bands I’ve had the displeasure of watching this year. This is one act that lives up to the murmuring buzz that has built up on the underground scene. By the time it’s over, the smothering miasma began to recede along with the feedback. Meanwhile, the band disappeared back into the night and rode out, ready to ruin Manchester’s day. Watch out, there’s a fog coming.