It was a particularly wet and unforgiving Sunday night in the capital, but with UK DIY Post-Metal heroes Light Bearer making a rare UK headlining appearance, the promise of new and currently unreleased Manatees tracks and the chance to catch Astrohenge on home turf, this show was not to be missed.
Due to leaving work and arriving with just enough time to grab some well-earned falafel and lager, we unfortunately missed opener In the Hills, arriving just in time for Astrohenge to kick the night off proper.
Having never seen Astrohenge in the live setting before, but knowing of various members involvement in Necro Deathmort and Yards, anticipation was high. The band knocked out a variety of Mr Bungle meets Mastodon riff histrionics in front a small but interested crowd. The set was peppered with enough atmospheric moments to captivate fans of all the other bands, but also delivered a keen sense of fun with circus stylled, odd-time signature riffing that started the night off in fantastic style, especially on a rainy Sunday night such as this.
Next up were Manatees, who although headlining the rest of the tour played third out of five tonight. Last time I saw Manatees was at the Camden Unicorn some years ago, and at that time they were searching for a new home to release their 3rd album, Helvellyn. Tonight, playing mostly cuts off of the new record, Manatees were on fire, their legendary volume and atmospherics providing a stunning account of what is to come with album number 3. A faster, almost hardcore influenced track broke out mid set worked perfectly in its placement, offering a lively alternative to the usual stunning sludge melodicism’s, and the eerie Queens of the Stone Age meets krautrock ending was both pummelling and surprising in its groove. Without a doubt *shelsmusic have made a fantastic choice letting this long awaited record see the light of day in early 2014.
Having been non-plussed with Erlen Meyers debut released this year, we decided to watch the French bands set from the balcony. With what appeared to be a giant widescreen television stage left displaying artwork of varying degrees of hopelessness and an impassioned performance they captivated a large portion of the crowd, although this reviewer was left unfulfilled, feeling that they are, in the flesh as on record, Will-Haven-lite with just a little too much monotony to find truly captivating. With more work on varying the elements of their tracks however, I’m sure Erlen Meyer could become a truly great force in metal.
Next up were Light Bearer who I’ve been fortunate enough to see twice in London this year (the first at their Silver Tongue release at the Urban Bar). Not often making UK appearances due to geographically scattered members and with the promise of a far higher sound quality than the Urban Bar, a sizeable crowd stood awaiting the coming onslaught.
On record, Light Bearers mammoth albums often top 60-70 minutes, filled with lush orchestration and long ambient/noise interludes that wonderfully set up each track and offer rest bite from the emotion fuelled sludge pummelling. Live is a different set-up for the band, with only a short time to fill and with lengthy songs, the band go for the jugular. Whilst recorded material is often close to Post-Metal, live the band breath an impassioned post-hardcore air, as close to crust and hardcore in its delivery as it is to Cult of Luna’s atmospheric restraint.
Airing material from both their debut Lapsus and this years’ Silver Tongue the band traverse the quiet and serene moments of the albums and also the glorious post-metal riffage they are perhaps better known for. The band seems to escape the pitfalls of bringing their highly conceptual recordings to the live stage by offering an all-encompassing performance full of dedication, atmosphere and ultimately joy.
Massive props to *shelsmusic and Patrice at the Underworld for such a rad Sunday evening. Be sure to check all these bands recorded material and support your local scenes.
Words : Richard Powley
Photos : Yvonne Schirmer
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