Saturday 3 May 2014

Live Review : Cattle, Broken DC, True Widow, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK, Monday 7th April 2014

My attendance at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, seems to be a recurring theme of late, this being my third gig here in the last few months.  Indeed I am getting the feeling I am cursed at this venue, (problems with gaining entry, again).  Either that or my mug shot has been issued, based upon my crimes against music during my formative years.  Shit music taste Aaron, sorry mate you’re not getting in!!  

Anyway, problems with entry aside, True Widow presented me with a different proposition,  perhaps not strictly ‘metal’, yet True Widow reached their creative zenith with their latest record 2013’s ‘Circumambulation’, and I thought it was brilliant. With this tour, their second foray across the pond within the last 12 months, I am certain this band could become huge over the next few years, therefore for that reason I wasn’t gonna pass up the opportunity to see this 3 piece in such a intimate setting. 

Kicking things off tonight were ‘Cattle’.  Ingredients, two drummers, one bassist, one vocalist.  Based on this line up, it was evident from the start that they would present unorthodox music, however there was much to admire about them.  Essentially the listener is drowned in sound; distorted vocals seemingly played through effects to gives an ethereal quality, with a rolling bass driving the whole thing, like some whirring machine accompanied by primitive, yet blasting drums.  At times ‘Cattle’ had a drum n’ bass flavour, but at the crux of their noise, is something inherently quirky, with the bass switching from clean to distorted tones within the context of the songs mood and texture. 

Indeed when the distortion kicks in ‘Cattle’ evoke a flavour of early Big Business, but what is most appealing is the fact that this band feels totally unique, inimitable if you will.  There is influence from The Jesus Lizard, with vitriolic vocals, reminiscent of David Yow and a bass style ala ‘Weight’ era Rollins Band.  With the multi-layered tribalism of the drums, bottom end that’s enough to cause fission, it may only have been a short set, but ‘Cattle’ were an ultimately rewarding live act and a band to keep a close eye on. 

Yielding former members of instrumental monsters Capricorns within their ranks, Broken DC, if I am being honest, were not strictly to my taste.  With that in my mind, the music they produced was more or less instrumental, with Kevin Williams’ mixing things up with some vocals.  From the outset, things got off to a good start, with the atmospheric strains of twin guitars, with a kinda post metal vibe, minus the sludge factor but with added grunge.  There was a degree of crunch to their sound at times and performance wise it was energetic, with the drummer being at the centre of everything that was good.  It is was difficult to get a measure of Broken BC, kinda post punk and at times the minimalism of Big Black was also heard in my ears.  For the most part it was very stripped back and raw sounding.  Essentially Broken DC are at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of what appeals to me, but they produced a driving and forceful performance which, on the whole was received with a great deal of appreciation from the crowd.

Onto True Widow then.  I fail to remember what the antecedent was that would draw me to this band, but I had all but forgotten about them, following the release of their second full length, their simply monikered ‘As High As the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth’. Not very dedicated might you say?  Anyway, in 2013, True Widow emerged on a new label and a stunning new record, ‘Circumambulation’ which only served to reinforce, why I so loved this band in the first place.

What is striking from the outset is the sumptuous tone of sound, True Widow produce beautiful music. Ethereal, droning, slow brooding cascades of decadent tones, rich and wondrous.  Why are we covering this, you might say?  Because True Widow are loud in the most epic way possible, which is all the more remarkable given the small back lines of amps.  To you, the reader, it may sound contrived to say, but True Widow’s music is dreamy and otherworldly, just music in its purest form.  The bass booms and the clean tone of the guitar are moody and almost morose. Perfect music for a bleak Monday.

Despite the shoegaze vibe, this is still some of the heaviest shit, you’re gonna hear.  It is that bass, man!!  Fat with a low end that is as thick as tungsten and producing a behemoth tone Conan or even Slomatics would be proud of.  The erstwhile drummer holds everything together immaculately, slow but impacting and full of swagger.  Nicole Estill’s vocals are angelic, wistful and a tone that showers you with euphoria.  As a unit, True Widow’s music takes you off to some distant psychedelic utopia and is perhaps one of the most brilliant aural experiences I have heard.  Nothing moves faster than a heard of grazing cattle, yet that does not matter one bit, because this is music made to slow you down, to engage in and is complete escapism.  There are riffs that punch you in the stomach and this is perfectly juxtaposed against Nicole’s serene voice, acting like the perfect anaesthetic.  When it gets heavy, this is earth shaking stuff and yet at times it feels like the soundtrack to a David Lynch movie.  Think Twin Peaks or Lost Highway.  Transcendent, totally dark and at the same time truly captivating. 

True Widow, produced a measured and graceful performance.  Tonight was all about leaving your woes and troubles at the door and being totally blown away by one of the most sublime and brilliant bands out there.  True Widow delivered on every level tonight and left me feeling rejuvenated and kinda euphoric.  A truly amazing performance.

Words by : Aaron Pickford