The North of England may be a bit shit, rain may constantly mope down from a concrete grey skyline, it’s not as affluent as the nation’s capital and it’s far removed from the sun baked deserts where stoner rock once crawled out from in a haze of marijuana and mescaline. The North of England may be a bit shit, but I’m a proud Mancunian and this is a city which is full of surprises that further distil within me that innate patriotism. Arke are one of those surprises. Their music was born here, under a raincloud in their Ancoats rehearsal room and elsewhere, yet it sounds so authentic, the grease smeared grooves and rhythmic grit that are their foundation embodying everything we’ve come to know and love from the Stoner Rock Movement. More so however, they colour those sounds with their own character and moodiness – sludgy auras more befitting of our overcast weather – and you just can’t argue with the results.
It’s a tough early set that they play here tonight, yet thankfully a decent enough crowd has made the effort to witness their noise mongering. Take that as testament as to what this band has achieved thus far. So as far as support acts go then, their muscular song writing and fatter-than-a-sumo-on-cheat-day phonetics are both a perfect match for Torche’s own signature sound as well as oozing enough of its own individuality to give predictability a kick up the arse.
At times they swim downstream, ‘Katastrophe’ sharing a kindred, slow stomping groove as some of tonight’s headliners more expansive work. ‘Pandora’ wades through a slow-paced, discordant rancour, the lyrics almost storytelling and they guide you towards a series of enrapturing and eccentric crescendos.
The true magic happens though, when they make a U-turn and head upstream, ‘Fassbender’ – getting only its second airing – merges fast, sharp song writing which orbits around a strong gravitational melody before veering off course into a prog-infused doom outro. Indeed, Arke may have an inherent understanding of what makes a good stoner rock song tick, but they bastardise that blueprint with lashes of other musical styles. From Taz Dirania’s superb Neil Fallon-esque holler to Rob Sutcliffe’s anus tickling six string bass work which accounts for much of those excellent progressive left turns, their resulting sound is a collage of different inspirations. As ramshackle as that may sound however, this amalgamation of styles comes out sounding tidier than a nun’s fanny.
They draw from the booming riffs of Sabbath, the wackiness of Melvins, the thick bluesy sludge of
and more. They’re fantastic musicians and they sure as hell know how to make you move. New Orleans
Words: Phil Weller
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