Crud World Domination Enterprises give you

Dillinger Escape Plan
Cult of Luna

Manchester Hop & Grape / Academy 3


(reviewed by MWJ)


Try as I might I don’t seem to be getting to gigs on time. What’s with all these professional, prompt 7.30pm starts? Wasn’t like that in the old days, you’d be standing outside shivering at 10 while the 7th support band was still sound checking, etc. etc.

So, saw the second half of Beecher’s set from the back (at least that’s where the bar is) of a sold-out, packed out Hop and Grape, or Hemp and Grape would be seem more appropriate from the sweet smell in the air. Reprazenting the UK on this bill, they certainly cut a sharp tune, angry hardcore blending with more melodic breaks. There was some pleasingly heavy riffing that seemed to fit well with the next band up, but also the manic energy displayed by the musicians suggested some of the headliners influence as well. Left handed, finger-plucking bassist scores bonus points. There was plenty of variety in the few songs seen to catch the attention, and they seemed deserved of the hype they’re getting up the UK metal/rock ladder.

I’ve raved enough about Cult of Luna in previous reviews (brainwashed yet?), the main reason I’m here tonight, and they’re still that good. Like ghosts in a fog, cold, stark blue backlit, drifting ambience drawn out for ages, when is it going to kick in, you know its coming, still not yet, bit longer, wait, …bang, a colossal grinding riff drops like a daisy-cutter and the hoarsely screamed vocals like a searing blast wave.

All most can do is smile wryly in the face of the impending doom and nod hypnotically when the apocalypse is unleashed. And they’re now a 7 piece with a "sound engineer" bringing an occasional extra guitar (that makes 3+bass!), snare or tambourine (yes there is some subtlety in there) to the mix. The live mixed keyboard/effects add an almost psychedelic vibe at times. The chug-tastic "Arrival" is probably their peak amongst the 4 1/2 epics they get through, but we’re also treated to an unreleased track, 6 minutes of build up, 6 minutes of destruction, working on the basis of one riff, the perfect blend, practically an instrumental but for the final topping of an anguished verse at the end. Then leave ground zero to Noam Chomsky sample on the hell to pay from the corporate states taking over the world.

I’d heard a couple of tracks and seen a video to expect chaos from Dillinger so wasn’t fooled by some brooding intro. Sure enough, it all goes berserk when they get going; the hard-man / front man is on/in the crowd in seconds, a rabid vocal attack. Guitars are whipped around violently, behind the neck playing thrown in as a casual extra. The music moves as rapidly and awkwardly as the musicians, genre-defying probably but extreme jazz-core I’d call it, and they really lead the field in this niche they’ve created. Ian Stuntface described it as though they’d set up to play at the top of some stairs then someone had pushed them off!

They break from furious hyper speed hardcore onslaughts to complex scale runs to soulful mellow(er) parts and back again. While some of this is quite stunning it also brings a bit of a problem for me, in that I can’t say which song I like, or whether indeed a whole one is enjoyable as so much happens so quickly its hard to get a catch a hook or hand onto one amongst the chaos, apart from the songs I’ve heard before, like Under the Running Board and When Good Dogs Do Bad Things of their recent collaboration with Mike Patton. This is probably just me and my slow brain, as the fans are definitely fervent in their appreciation, and there’s a good natured rapport between the band and crowd. There’s even shouts for their recent Justin Timberlake cover but they avoid inflicting it upon us. All in all I’ve enjoyed seeing them but am not sure I’m enthused enough to want to see them again though, they are a challenging aural experience which in itself is an achievement worthy of respect.

(review + pix by MWJ)

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