Eternal Gray is a creative death metal act from Israel, and they've just released their debut CD - Kindless. If you have interest in any kind of death metal then be sure to check them out, and you can learn more about their motives and inspirations right here:
Eric: How did Eternal Gray get started?
EG: Eternal Gray members first met as fill-ins in for the band Betrayer in which I already played, they were known from previous bands from north and central Israel, and were brought together to perform with lead vocalist Tomas Lindberg (former At The Gates) in the summer of 1999.
Due to the success of this performance, we continued to play together keeping Betrayer alive and the music hard & heavy. A year passed, professional differences between some of the members grew, differences about what kind of metal we should play.
Eventually the band separated in the summer of 2001, in a final farewell concert with Rotting Christ, a band with which we had previously played with in the winter of 1998. During this show the separation of Betrayer was announced, as was announced that the rest of the band will stay together as Eternal Gray.
As Eternal Gray we decided to record our debut album, in the best and most professional manner, so we flew to Sweden to record it at the renowned Abyss studios, with Tommy Tagtgren as our sound engineer.
The title was chosen to describe the album, meaning two things: first "kind-less" as in not very kind (or simply brutal), and second was "kind-less" as a unique album which has no kind like itself.
Eric: What would you like listeners to get out of your lyrics? Is there any particular message you are trying to get across?
EG: I guess it's reflecting us as we are. We didn't tell something new to anybody, we are just reflecting our reality. Each and every one of us can interpret the lyrics to its own direction. After all, life is very complex and what are making life to be so, are us. The lyrics are both insane and real.
Eric: What inspires you as an artist?
EG: First I can say that everyone of us came to Eternal Gray with a different history in metal and music in general. Of course we appreciate many bands and artists in the metal field and we try to combine what we like with what we are. I can take a wild guess and say that the situation in our region is quite helpful but then again, that's not our main issue at all.
I served the army for 3 years at the IDF paratroopers and all the experiences I've been thru there inflicted on my music.
But yet, Eternal Gray goes for the psychotic way and twisted mind that happened to be in everyone.
Eric: How in the world did you manage to take such a tired genre and give it renewed vigor?
EG: We only did what we think a good Death Metal should sound like and tried to combine different styles of metal in it, such as Nevermore, Meshuggah, Morbid Angel and stuff. Our new material that we are currently working on is much aggressive, psychotic and Eternal Gray style, which we're uprooting in the band and hopefully the audiences.
Bottom line; we are playing what we feel so I guess we are a bunch of unrestricted vigorous persons.. he he...
Eric: Can you give us some insight into your songwriting process? How do you start putting songs together, and how does each member contribute?
EG: We usually start with the music. Each of us writes alone at home, which is good for us because metal is not exactly the "lets jam and see what happens" kind of music.
Of course we do that once in a while but most of the time it doesn't work. Usually I write the music while imagining a big church (great reverb) and a bunch of I don't know whom praying there. While thinking of it, the pray percolates my mind and transferring into notes, than I'm converting it into Metal. Often I'm writing riffs that is fun to play, some fast, technical, etc...
Eyal is writing most of the lyrics and Roy is very thoughtful and kindconcerning the blasts we are dropping on him. Usually it starts like: "Hey Roy, listen to a new part! (I'm playing, Roys eyes starts falling, smiling miserably and saying: no, you can't do this to me!!")
But he likes it and we try to play it. It's really important to know yours and your colleagues abilities when youwrite. Another important thing; in order to prevent four minds arguing about the style, songs and structure, at Eternal Gray only one person says the last word in which is final. That's working for us pretty good.
Eric: Your drummer scares me. I don't know how he can drum so intensely and still have the brainpower to function normally. Is he a savant?
EG: If you'd know him in personally, youd scare some more.. (-: Well, Eran is no longer at Eternal Gray. Actually he went playing jazz in the US. He's a very talented person and I agree he's doing a hell of a job on Kindless.
We have a new drummer as you know, when we auditioned some new drummers they had to play something out of Kindless. We found absolutely nobody until we auditioned that 16 years old boy Roy. He just said, "Ok, lets play Sins in the process of creation" (Opening song of Kindless) and he just played it so well, the rest is obvious.
Eric: What do you hope to accomplish as a band?
EG: As for the next few months - we are working on some new hellish songs and would like to be signed for our second upcoming CD. We feel ready now; in the last year we've learned and experienced a lot about the industry, about ourselves.
Right now we have the energy to strike the earth with Eternally Gray music.
We have a lot of things to offer the world and we need the chance to do it, so we need a good deal with a normal budget to rehears and record our new CD.
Bottom line - I'm looking to accomplish a full satisfaction of the audiences when listening to our music.
Eric: Have you started work on a new album yet? What can you tell us about your future aspirations?
EG: Ok; Our new songs are, lets say, darker, the atmosphere is floating around all the time, we play some polyrhythmic parts (usually short parts) which we combine through the song, we've upgraded the speed of the grinds and doubles, yet keeping the mid tempo parts and evil\sad feeling through the chorus.
We are trying to keep it as interesting as we can while not turning it to something that will confuse the listener.
Eric: Can we expect to see you live in the US anytime soon? Where else are you planning on touring?
EG: That of course depends very much on the label, as I said we are ready for it.
As for other places, I guess Europe is a good place to hang in and go on tour.
Eric: Is there anything else you'd like to share?
EG: As long as we live, we will do our best to keep our way of life, continue playing Death metal and provide the best for you all!
Keep supporting the scene; don't forget that in Israel you all can find some great metal bands as Nail within, Salem, Lehavoth, Vultures and many more.
For more info, comment or anything else, you're all invited to visit us on our website: www.eternalgray.com.
Icon Of Coil
January 19 2003
~photos and review by Uncle Nemesis
Tonight, electro-label Cryonica Music brings us the London date of the joint Icon Of Coil/Assemblage 23 European tour. Both bands command a strong following among London's EBM-heads, and with the addition to the bill of Swarf - who have a pretty respectable fan-base of their own - it's no surprise to find the 500-capacity Underworld heading for a sell-out. A lengthy queue builds up outside the venue as the advertised doors-open time of 6.30pm draws closer. Or, at least, we *think* the doors-open time is 6.30. That's what it says on the flyers, but the tickets say 7.00pm - and, in fact, it's gone 7.30 before the queue starts to move. All this, and it's pissing with rain. Not, it must be said, a great start to the evening's entertainment. The bands had better be good tonight to make up for the fuck-about on the door!
I'm at the bar, getting the drinks in, when I hear Swarf start up in the stage-area round the corner. I abandon my pint on the bar (and there aren't many bands who would induce me to do something as drastic as that!) and rush down the front to see them do their stuff. One or two things have changed in Swarf-World since we last encountered the band. They've signed up with Punish, a new label formed by Cubanate's Marc Heal, and all sorts of plans for new releases and extensive tours are, apparently, in the works. However, exactly when we can expect all this good stuff to start happening is a little unclear. For now, it seems that Swarf are maintaining a holding pattern. Tonight's set is as cool and as groovy as we've come to expect from the band - and yet, it's essentially the same set they've been playing for a long while now, with the exception of one newie, 'Supine'. This is definitely up to the Swarf-standard of quality. It has that freight-train rumble in the rhythm, and that neat little melody dodging the careering wheels of the boxcars. If this is a pointer to the new material that's coming up, then I think we're going to be impressed. And yet, an yet. It's slightly worrying that we're only allowed to hear this *one* new song, and the only piece of product the band have to sell on the merchandise stall is their 2001 Wasp Factory release, the 'Fall' EP. It's high time Swarf started to push forward and realise their undoubted potential. Memo to Punish HQ: Quit yer slackin'. It's time to get busy!
Now, last time I saw Assemblage 23, headlining at this very venue a few months back, I wasn't impressed. On that occasion, Tom Shear, who to all intents and purposes, *is* Assemblage 23, simply fobbed us off with a karaoke act. He had no band, only a random mate standing near a keyboard. Not actually *at* the keyboard, you understand, just *near* it. The lyrics were merely barked out over the backing track. In short, it wasn't exactly A-for-effort stuff. Fortunately, tonight Assemblage 23's show seems to be a little more 'for real'. There is a band, of sorts, which includes an energetic electro-drummer and a keyboard player who looks disturbingly like the big brother of Elrond from The Lord Of The Rings. The focus of everyone's attention, however, is Tom Shear himself, who throws himself into the performance with great gusto. The music is essentially school-of-VNV Nation EBM, and the lyrics seem to plough the same furrow of overwrought emotional intensity that VNV have made their trademark. Frankly, Tom Shear's principal influence isn't difficult to spot. Bizarrely, while I'm down the front taking photos, I happen to glance behind me and suddenly I'm confronted with Mark, VNV's drummer. Aha, I think. The master has come to check on the progress of the pupil! Even more weirdly, Mark is singing along! His approval is shared by most of the crowd, who seethe with enthusiasm, and even put their hands in the air without being asked (surely the ultimate accolade for any EBM act). But as so often with bands of this sort, I'm left feeling a little detatched from it all. To me, it all seems too simplistic and formulaic. That basic four-on-the-floor beat, the simple sequences over the top, the monotone-bark vocals, the hand-wringing cod-emotion of the lyrics...it's all been done and done and done, and it takes more than this to hold my attention.
Icon Of Coil stand out from the futurepop-star crowd in that they actually have a good-looking lead vocalist. Now, you might regard that as a rather flippant comment, but it's also true. In a genre which seems to be dominated by stocky, intense, shouty-crackers frontmen, IoC's Andy Lapleuga is an eye-catching, tall, lean, blond adonis, resplendent in his fetishistic cyber-gear and Nice Boots. You could imagine him on an MTV techno-dance chart show in a way that you simply couldn't imagine Tom Shear or Ronan Harris. He's got The Look, there's no doubt about that. Icon Of Coil as a whole are an impressively slick operation; the music slinking out of the PA with a touch more finesse than the usual stomp-and-shout stuff which sometimes seems to be the hallmark of this genre. Dare I say it, this band has that mysterious thing called pop sensibility. And yet, for all that, Icon Of Coil don't stray too far from the blueprint. The beats wallop, the sequences tumble, the vocals crack out like whiplashes - the band take care to press all the essential buttons, and the audience responds with a show of wild enthusiasm. They're certainly good, but they're not really in the business of pushing the envelope.
It seems the Underworld has extended hours tonight (on a Sunday? Camden Council must've had a collective brainstorm!) so the usual 10.30 finish-time passes with Icon Of Coil still in full flow on stage. Trouble is, although the venue might be staying open later, the same cannot be said for the London Underground, so the audience starts to thin out as people leave to catch their trains home. I'm one of those who has to leave. It goes against the grain to leave a gig before the end, but time and the Northern Line wait for no man. Was it a good gig? Well, for the diehard EBM-heads who spent the most of the night in a moshpit-frenzy, undoubtably yes. But for me, the gig raises more questions than it answers. Is EBM/futurepop going anywhere on a creative, musical level, or are the bands of this genre simply following the same carefully mapped-out route? When will Swarf - who have far more individuality and ideas than most other electronic acts around today - be given their chance to really surge ahead? And - the most important question of all - whatever happened to that pint I left on the bar at the start of the gig?
see all the photos from this show here
Icon Of Coil: http://www.iconofcoil.com
Assemblage 23: http://www.synthetic.org/a23
Cryonica Music: http://www.cryonica.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
291 Gallery, London
January 17 2003
~photos and reveiw by Uncle Nemesis
Back when I was in The Showbiz, there was a promoter's proverb doing the rounds in London: 'If it's not West One or North West One, then people won't come.' And there was a bit of truth in that. In recent years, London's live music venues seem to have concentrated themselves around certain central or north-central areas, to the point where it's sometimes difficult to persuade an audience to travel to less-familiar locations. With this in mind, putting on a gig in a converted church in the wilds of Hackney is a brave move on the part of tonight's promoters, the left-field label Operative Records. It almost guarantees that the usual gig-crowd won't show up. But then, I shouldn't think any of the bands at this gig are particularly bothered about appealing to the usual gig-crowd. This is an altogether more out-on-a-limb experience, and it's going to pull in an audience of hardy souls who probably don't give a stuff about anything 'usual'.
So, having braved the lengthy trek down Hackney Road, past all the handbag factories (Hackney seems to be the handbag manufacturing capital of Europe), we come upon a 19th century church, looming out of the streetlamp-haze in all its all Victorian Gothic majesty. Inside, having negotiated sundry items of conceptual artwork, we discover the gig. It all takes place in the towering nave of the church: there's no stage as such, just a series of wide, shallow, steps rising to the place where the altar once stood. There's also no lighting, except for the flickering images on a cinema-size video screen which rises so high over the bands it threatens to dominate the entire proceedings. It's almost as if the visuals are more important than the music here: are the video images intended to illustrate the music, or are the bands simply there to provide a soundtrack for the film show? Whether by default or design, the conventional set-up of a gig obviously isn't going to play much of a part in tonight's proceedings.
Muffpunch, as I've remarked before, are better than their name. Two besuited and masked gentlemen face each other at a table laden with electronic trickery. They blat chunks of distort-o-noise at each other, as if they're playing sonic chess. One of them steps forward and hammers and scrapes on a piece of metal with a carving knife. It's all surprisingly rhythmic and structured: at first you think they're just making an 'orrible racket, but in fact it's all worked out with more care than you'd initially assume. I'm willing to bet that Muffpunch go through all the same songwriting and rehearsal processes as any other band. It's just that their raw material and end results are...different. There's even a Burt Bacarach cover, which suffers somewhat from an inaudible vocal, but it's a nice idea, and underlines that Muffpunch do seem to have some sort of fractured respect for The Song. Throughout all this, the big screen shows a clockwork toy clown beating manically on a drum: ah, a neat little comment on machine-music, I think wisely to myself. Or maybe they just thought it looked funny. At the end of the set, the two suited figures formally shake hands across their table, as if they've just reached agreement after a discussion, some sort of negotiation-by-noise. Perhaps we should suggest this method to George Bush...but then again, no. He's got *much* louder hardware.
Naevus are a curious outfit. They're about as far away from the conventional notions of a rock band as you can possibly get...while still employing the essential ingredients of a rock band. The line-up fluctuates from gig to gig, but tonight Naevus are a two-piece, with just the core members of Lloyd James and Joanne Owen on stage. The video screen sparks into life again, this time looping still images of stuffed animals and pinned-down insects, jump-cut to resemble bizarre dance routines. Below these disjointed, agitated images, Naevus pick their way with great precision through their dryly disturbing songs. Joanne's bass perambulates its way through the songs with the focused attention of a walker trying to avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement, while Lloyd carefully enunciates the words in a matter-of-fact tone somewhere between a conversation and a police statement. It's certainly not moshpit-music, but there's definitely something here which grabs attention and keeps you intrigued. If Naevus are coming from anywhere in terms of influences, I'd hazard a guess that they're inspired by the more cerebral bands of the 1980s post-punk era: Magazine, Wire. They even have a song called 'Chairs Are Men' which is a *very* Wire-esque title, if you ask me. Naevus don't necessarily make immediate, accessible music, but tonight their songs demonstrate an uncanny ability to crawl under your skin.
Knifeladder are an industrial band. Except you can't just leave it there. Especially not these days, when 'industrial' seems to mean anything from mainstream metal with a few samples thrown in, to light synthpop performed by embarassingly hammy pop-star wannabees. Knifeladder are physical and experimental, more organic than mechanical; they mash up heady rushes of percussion with grumbling basslines, and hollered-out vocals which sound more like a hill farmer calling in his goats than anything remotely rock 'n' roll. Their set is a wild ride, performed in front of an old black-and-white film about the voodoo gods of Haiti, which itself perhaps clues you in to Knifeladder's approach. It's almost as if the band are trying to channel something from 'out there' rather than simply play some bangin' music for The Kids. The venue, splendidly dramatic though it is, tends to dissipate some of the band's energy, however: it all floats up to the roof, far above our heads. In a smaller space, I think the force and fire of the band's performance would be more tightly concentrated, and would rope in the audience a little more effectively. As things are, the crowd stands and watches with great attention, but the music really demands *involvement*, which doesn't really happen here. But for all that, it's a great set - energy-bolts firing off in all directions.
And then it's 2am, and time to wander off into the night. What is the bleakest experience in London? Waiting for a night bus in the early hours of a January morning...in Hackney. But for those of us who are brave enough to strike off the beaten gig-track, tonight's event proves that it's worth taking the road less travelled.
see all photos from this show here
Muffpunch: http://www.muffpunch.com (Ludicrously out of date!)
Operative Records, promoters of the gig: http://www.operative-records.co.uk
291 Gallery: http://www.291gallery.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Death Valley Surfers
January 25, 2003
~photos and review by Uncle Nemesis
Back in the 1980s, I used to see psychobilly bands all the time in London. The daddies of the scene, The Meteors, used to appear on a regular basis as support to just about every punk and goth band on the circuit, as well as headlining their own shows - and there were many more bands of that ilk a-stompin' and a-rockin' their way around the scene. London even had its own bespoke psychobilly club, Klub Foot, which gave rise to the successful 'Stomping at the Klub Foot' series of live albums. These slotted neatly into your collection right next to those classic 'Blood On The Cats' garage/psychobilly compilations - and that was before you'd even started buying the bands' own releases. There was, in short, a lot of it about.
But that was then. Klub Foot is now long gone - the building was demolished and a pink marble office block now stands on the site, the European headquarters of Coca-Cola, no less. How's that as a metaphor for our cultural decline? And yet, against the odds, psychobilly is still alive and definitely still kicking. Twenty years after what most people would probably regard as the genre's heyday, three bands from the current scene descend upon the long-suffering Underworld, and pack the place to the rafters with an aimiable, boisterous crowd.
It's also a very varied crowd, and this is one area where the 'billy scene of today seems to have changed from its 80s incarnation. It's varied in age-range. There are grizzled old 30- and 40-somethings here tonight - veterans, no doubt, of the original wrecking crew - alongside people in their teens and twenties. It's varied in nationality - I hear snatches of Italian and Japanese in the queue outside the venue. And it's varied in sub-cultural style. There are ska fans here, wearing Two-Tone patches on their Harrington jackets; punks with soaped-up mohawks; impossibly glamourous rock chicks who look like they've just stepped out of a Varla magazine photoshoot - and even one cyber-billy girl who's sculpted her hair extensions into a towering synthetic beehive. The range of styles on show is quite astonishing - this music seems to cut across all boundaries and all hairstyles. Why, some people here tonight don't even have quiffs!
So, let's get stuck in to the music. The Hangmen are a classic three-piece rockabilly combo: a Hohner semi-acoustic guitar, a battered double bass, a drum set, and a no-shit attitude. Which, of course, are all the essential ingredients. They pitch straight in to their set and give their songs a right old wellying. Their sound is fast and raw and takes no prisoners, and although the band play it all pretty straight - there are no musical surprises here - the sheer blood and thunder of the music is effective and impressive. They rattle through their 30 minutes like a runaway train, the guitarist gurning and hollering into the vocal mic, the bassist an implacable, looming presence on the opposite side of the stage. Good old rollicking stuff, and a fine way to kick off the gig.
Our middle band of tonight's three, the Death Valley Surfers, have a splendid name and a nifty line in colourful shirts. They look like they're dressed for a day at the beach - except for the guitarist, who looks like he's dressed for an audition with Nick Cave. They play a rumbustious brand of good-time rock 'n' roll - at times lining up for impromptu comedy dance routines, stomping to and fro across the stage. The lead singer is wearing some frankly scary leather shorts, but he has such an air of gleeful confidence that I have to forgive his bizarre taste in fashion. The band ham it up unashamedly, the sax player in particular throwing shapes and striking poses as he inserts his fat parps into the band's rockin' grooves. On the other side of the stage, the guitarist slashes and wrenches at his guitar. He's by far the most 'rock' member of the band...but in a good way. In fact, he looks a little out of place, as if he doesn't really buy into the Death Valley Surfers' good-time ethos. He wants to play the *bad* music! The overall effect is rather weird. It's as if most of the band harbour a secret desire to be Madness, while the guitarist has a barely-concealed ambition to join the Birthday Party. It's an entertaining set, but in the end I'm with the guitarist. I want to let the devil in!
Nekromantix have certainly
let the devil in...and then unceremoniously slapped the old horn-head about
with their monster riffs and crazed, manic, 100mph rock 'n' roll. Now,
one of the criticisms that's sometimes levelled at the rockabilly/psychobilly
genre is that nobody's really pushing the music forward. It's all rooted
firmly in those old 50s moves and grooves, and once you've got past the
punky attitude and cartoon quiffs, it's essentially just the same old stuff.
Well, you can throw that criticism straight out of the window when Nekromantix
hit the stage. Sure, they have the classic three-piece guitar/bass/drums
line-up, but the sounds they conjure out of these instruments is something
else. It's a big, rich, dense slab of noise, at times knocking on the door
of the wildest, thrashy-est punk, and at other times giving the metalheads
a good run for their money. Nekromantix play their songs fast, fast, fast,
hammering out great chunks of rock like a quarryman with a pneumatic drill
- damn, at certain moments, you could close your eyes and it could be Motorhead
up there. This is just great rock music, pure and simple. It's stripped-down,
visceral, and as raw as meat. And yet it's not just an exercise in thrashing
out the riffs. Everything is tightly controlled; every beat, guitar-shard,
every bass-slap is placed so precisely in the melee that the music never
loses its shape or structure. The band demonstrate this to great effect
when the drummer sets up a naggingly familiar, skipping rhythm, the stand-up
coffin-bass thumps in some just-so notes, and the guitar starts scratching
away over the top. Nekromantix are doing 'Bela Lugoisi's Dead'! Now I've
heard everything! Wild and wonderful stuff, and when it's all over
I stumble out of the gig with a stupid great grin on my face. Nekromantix,
I salute you. May your quiffs never droop!
see all the photos from this show here
The Nekromantix page on the Wrecking Pit site: http://www.wreckingpit.com/psycho/bands/nekromantix.php3
Death Valley Surfers: http://www.deathvalleysurfers.co.uk
The Death Valley Surfers on the Wrecking Pit site: http://www.wreckingpit.com/psycho/bands/death_valley_surfers.php3
The Hangmen: http://freespace.virgin.net/l.dolan/Hmenbiog.html
Stomping At The Klub Foot - a snapshot of the 80s psychobilly scene: http://www.nervous.co.uk/shindex.htm?http://www.nervous.co.uk/reviews/mayo513.htm
Varla magazine: http://www.varla.com
This gig was an in-house Underworld promotion. This is the venue's new website: http://www.theunderworldcamden.co.uk
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Earth Loop Recall
Upstairs At The Garage, London
Friday January 31
~photos and review by Uncle Nemesis
Flag Promotions' Friday night gigs in the small attic room over the Garage have previously been billed as 'Club Noir', but this time round the club name seems to have been dropped. Does this mean that Flag have acknowledged that these events are, when it comes right down to it, just plain old gigs, pure and simple? Well, whatever the philosophy behind the presence or absence of the brand-name, tonight we have a line-up of five bands of such radically different styles it's almost as if Flag plucked five names out of a hat at random and called the result a gig. What the hell: that's one way of doing it, I suppose.
Lupine are an odd assortment of individuals. They look less like a band than a random bunch of people who almost seem to have wandered on stage by accident. The guitarist is a beefy punk bloke, riffing away like a good 'un, while a skinny bassist in a beige singlet hides in the background. There's also a female backing singer in a mega-corset - but the real visual focus of the band is the lead vocalist, who sports spooky make-up and a frilly shirt which looks rather worryingly like it was half-inched from Nosferatu's wardrobe. He belts out the lyrics (most of which seem to incorporate schlock-horror fetish or vampire imagery) in a stentorian bawl, while maintaining a permanent foot-on-the-monitor pose throughout the entire set. At regular intervals, he throws his head back to keep his shaggy mane out of his eyes. He's obviously got this movement down to a fine art: I haven't seen anyone toss their hair with such debonair aplomb since I saw the Charlie's Angels movie. The music is fairly straightforward riff-and-holler stuff, driven along by a standard-issue bom-chucka-bom-chucka drum machine. It's entertaining enough in its way, although over the years there have been many, many bands in the goth scene who've done more or less this kind of stuff, and I'm not sure that a certain talent in the hair-tossing department is sufficient to elevate Lupine above the herd. However. They're still a very new band...sowe shall see.
[Postscript: after the set, I was approached by Lupine's lead singer who asked me to write a good review, to make up for the fact that the band had apparently been 'stitched up' by Meltdown magazine. Did I agree to his request? You decide!]
Earth Loop Recall are something different. Apparently, they're the latest signing to the Wasp Factory label, who are billing the band as the heirs to My Bloody Valentine's crown. That's enough to grab my attention, and I'm pleased to report that the band don't disappoint. There are three people on stage, on guitar, guitar, and keyboards, with a one-off appearance by a Deathboy bassist on one song. The music is dense, layered stuff, guitar-lines laid down like sediment. The band have the knack of building and building and building their songs, throwing in more and more until you wonder how much further they can take it. When the music eventually arrives at some sort of climax, a point of resolution, the release of tension is almost physical. This is good stuff: the feeling that the band are pushing, pushing, pushing their music until it breaks through a weird, intangible, barrier, is highly effective. The stage-left guitarist is also the only man I've ever seen who can play a Flying V without looking like a prat - and that's a recommendation in itself. Yep, Wasp Factory have picked a winner here. I only hope the label is aware that Earth Loop Recall have potential to make waves in the world of alternative music in general. One of the bizarre traits of Wasp Factory is that the label seems to aim itself almost exclusively at the goth audience, even though I don't think they've ever had a goth band on their books. It would be a great shame if Earth Loop Recall were shunted into the goth ghetto by their label's strange marketing policy. If I see the band suddenly playing a host of goffclubs, while ignoring the alternocircuit, I will be most annoyed. Earth Loop Recall are too good for that!
I find it hard to get a handle on the Scary Bitches. How seriously are we meant to take this band? The principal members are a couple of elaborately-attired women, all decked out in fantastical headgear and crazy costumes. Their show is more of a theatrical presentation than a set of songs - which does beg the question, how much attention are we supposed to pay to the music? Or should we simply regard the band as something akin to the comedy musical interlude at a Christmas pantomime, when Widow Twankey and her sister Twinkie come out to amuse us while the scenes are shifted behind the curtain? The songs themselves have a heavy-handed humour to them, as a glance at the titles reveals: 'You Always Eat The One You Love', 'Lesbian Vampires From Outer Space' - these are just as funny (or not) as the titles suggest. Let me shoot straight from the shoulder here. Once you've got over the costumes and the rather over-contrived craziness, there's not actually that much of interest to the band's music. It's all pretty much straight-down-the-line bluesey rock. The guitarist riffs away - she's strictly rhythm, she don't want to make it cry or sing - and, in truth, I suspect that if you stripped away all the Scary Bitches' costumery and tomfoolery you'd probably find a perfectly straightforward pub-rock band lurking beneath. I'm afraid that for me, the Scary Bitches come across as a novelty that very quickly wears off.
Pro Jekt are a relatively new outfit who've picked up a decent amount of interest on the UK scene in a fairly short time. The band name is not a typo - there really is a space between the Pro and the Jekt. As I'm sure you can guess, this came about because a certain US label objected to the band's choice of identity, so the gap had to be added to avoid confusion - and legal action. Frankly, I can't blame Projekt (the label) for objecting to Projekt (the band); and in any case, the P-word is so overused these days that it hardly counts as a brilliant band-name idea in the first place. There are already bands called Project Pitchfork, Project X, Cyber-tec Project, New Project - and, of course, everyone's got a side project! Still, here Pro Jekt are, legal gap firmly in place, on stage before our very eyes. And what are they like? Actually, rather good. They look like a bunch of diehard rockers, and there's certainly an element of hard rock-metal sound in the music. But Pro Jekt's secret weapon is the addition of banging dance grooves to the mix. Instead of a drummer, the band has a programmer/electronix-wizard lurking at the back of the stage, who feeds thumping great dance beats into the musical mish-mash. It's a real collision of styles, but, incredibly, it works. The bangin' beats drive everything forward in a full-on flow, while the guitar and bass slap a layer of good old rock over the top. The singer commands the stage with great presence, and the audience is won over. A thought occurs to me: I'd like to see Pro Jekt support Mesh - the two bands have more in common than you might at first assume, and it would be amusing to see how all the Mesh-fans react to a band who have that same dance-floor sensibility, but who also know how to rock. Surprising stuff.
Synthetic have been quiet for a while, but now it seems they're back. They have a new album in the works, and they're ready to hit the gig circuit again. I'm pleased to report that the crazily disparate elements which make up the three-headed Synthetic-monster are still present and correct. Paul Five does his OTT guitar-hero act, leaping and posing all over the stage, while somehow managing to remain absolutely in control of the music all the while. Sarn V is a reassuringly sensible presence on electronics, but it's Tim, on vocals, who grabs most of the attention. He's dressed in a bizarre combination of Dickensian rags and cybergoth style, a dreadlocked street urchin from the back streets of a future city, and he flops around the stage like a demented rag doll. He raps out the lyrics in a clipped English accent, while lurching and tumbling around the mic in an apparent state of other-consciousness. It's amusing (and, occasionally, rather alarming) to watch Tim progressively losing it as the gig unfolds: he really does seem to take himself off to other planes as he throws himself - literally - into the music. And yet Synthetic's ability to write a nifty pop song, with a cool dance-floor beat and some nicely layered guitars, is always well to the fore. This band is a precarious balance of randomness and control, but they haven't fallen off the tightrope yet. Long may they continue to teeter, that's what I say!
see all the photos from this show here
Scary Bitches: http://www.scarybitches.com
Pro Jekt: http://www.steamhead.com/projekt
Earth Loop Recall: http://www.earthlooprecall.com
Flag Promotions: http://www.flagpromotions.com
Upstairs At The Garage: http://www.meanfiddler.com/version1/upstairsat_thegarage/index.asp
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to