Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Xibalba @ Manchester, Star and Garter (01/10/13)

Tonight sees the Star and Garter playing host to two of the best bands currently operating in the hardcore underground. While their sounds may differ, they are united by their unrelentingly heavy takes on the genre. But first, it's the turns of local supports, SWINELORDS (7) and BELOW (7). The former perform a tight set of d-beat rage to a practically empty room while the audience fills out a bit for death metal mob BELOW. An injured frontman limits their stage presence somewhat but a line-up featuring members of local hardcore heroes BROKEN TEETH and SURVIVAL ensures audience interest and they incite the first of many pits over the night. Not bad going for a band with only a demo to their name.

Next, it's blackened Italians HIEROPHANT's (9) turn. Keeping banter to a bare minimum, they allow the music to speak for itself playing highlights from both their self-titled debut and this year's coruscating "Great Mother : Holy Monster". When they signed to Bridge Nine, eyebrows were raised with them being the heaviest band by far on it's punk dominated roster but their output has never been anything less than devastating and, live, they're absolutely ferocious. Taking a base of proper metalcore (the kind doled out by the likes of HANG THE BASTARD and BROTHERHOOD OF THE LAKE) and splicing in elements of crust, sludge, black metal and oppressive atmospheres, they deliver their assault in different ways but never let up on all-encompassing weight.

Finally, XIBALBA (8) take to the stage. Their particular brand of hardcore is purpose made for provoking moshpits and they don't dissapoint. That they roped in Southern Lord wner and half of SUNN O))), Greg Anderson on several tracks on most recent album, "Hasta La Muerte" gives you an idea of just how heavy they are. Having said that, they don't fall into the trap of generic chugging or hardcore cliches. Nor do they feel the need to resort to the needless macho posturing that too many hardcore band rely on. Instead they deliver a set of devastating, beatdown heavy vitriol. Pretty much the entirety of their set speeds by with a few slower, ominous tangents which only serve to highlight how heavy they are at full pelt. Finishing on a furious rendition of fan favourite, "Cold", XIBALBA savage the crowd's ears in the best possible way.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

65daysofstatic @ Manchester, Sound Control (23/09/13)

Space jazz, frantic slabs of synth, hyperactive guitars, freewheeling drums and, um, "a selection of love songs about Paris". WIth that, we're introduced to the crazy world of THE PHYSICS HOUSE BAND (8), Brighton's answer to THE MARS VOLTA. Having first caught the attentionof the math-rock world through their inclusion on last year's "Sea Monsters 2" compilation, they signed to Blood & Biscuits for the release of their debut EP, "Horizons / Rapture" in February.With only one EP worth of material to choose from, it's a testament to thei versatility the amount of musical ground they cover across their set. High octane tracks like "Abraxical Solapse" get the criminally sparse crowd moving while they also touch upon more plaintive, chin stroking moments on the likes of "Hollow Mountain".

The venue fills out substantially for main supports, Australian post-rockers, SLEEPMAKESWAVES (7). For their first time in Manchester, they already seem to have a decent fanbase over here. Signed to Birds Robe, in their native Australia, they're label mates with 65DOS but their take on the post-rock genre is closer to RUSSIAN CIRCLES with subtle dance elements of tonights headliners. While some of the subtleties of the record may be lost in the live environment, they make up for this with their energetic delivery. Heavier riffing rubs shoulders with long form melodies and across their sprawling tracks they create beautiful soundscapes. They may not be peddling the most original sound but they're one of the best bands currently in the scene.

Despite the other bands' best efforts, for most of the assembled crowd, tonight is all about 65DAYSOFSTATIC (8). Their set is a perfect balance between rock guitar, dance beats and swirling ambience. Their latest album, "Wild Light", is only a matter of days old but their confidence in new material shines through making up a large proportion of tonight's setlist. Their confidence isn't misplaced either, new tracks are recieved just as warmly as classics like "Retreat! Retreat!" and "Radio Protector". Next year, their debut album and modern classic, "The Fall Of Math" will be a decade old but tracks aired from sound just as innovative and exciting today. 65DAYSOFSTATIC truly are a one off in the world of math/post-rock and, in the live environment, they consolidate this with a captivating set.