The Body / Voe / Headless Kross / Buried Sleeper @ Audio, Glasgow 23/04/2014
Sometimes, a night can be exciting for the most trivial of reasons. First off, having The Body come to town was always going to be a highlight of the week (hell, it’s a highlight of the year, to be honest) but there is also the fact that, with the exception of the always-excellent Headless Kross, all of tonight’s bill are new to me. After two years of seeing the same bands working a constant rota, this is a delight in and of itself.
I enter Audio just as Glasgow’s Buried Sleeper are setting off on their first quarter-hour journey through the lands of Sabbath and Sleep, a head-nodding swirl that builds into slow-striding megaliths of metal while maintaining a heady atmosphere running concurrent to their impressive physicality. While the guitar work is perfectly apt, verging on post-metal yet without the overbearing heaviness, their rhythm section dominates and orchestrates where their two lengthy compositions bend and curve. The drums are incredibly light at points yet unremittingly powerful when needs must while the measured, catatonia-inducing bass work actually adds to the psychedelic undercurrents rather than grounds them. It’s a pleasant change from the usual riff-merchants that populate these days and their mix of warmth and concrete physicality is both well-executed and intriguing.
Not that riffs are a bad thing, mind you. It’s something that Headless Kross have made their trade in the past few years and those hefty wedges of stoner-doom aren’t getting any less attractive. They’re EyeHateGod at half the speed, but with Buckfast-fuelled sadness instead of speedball-rage, a tractor-pulled sightseeing tour populated with grimy down-tuned woe, hazy solos, screams of loss and desperation and three blokes with beards emitting severe heaviness and outré vibes. They also take the two-long-songs-make-up-for-six-shite-ones approach although they move through enough realms of sound, from heavy-lidded trips to moments so metal that there should be a Viking invasion going on, to render shorter songs obsolete anyway. Much like Buried Sleeper, they have created their own niche between the realms of doom and psychedelic metal, and they sound like they’re prepared to defend it with lethal intensity.
If Buried Sleeper dipped their toes in the waters of post-metal earlier tonight, Voe are practically drowning in them. They face the back of the stage, shrouded in foreboding and darkness, and with an air of very loud desperation, they excel both at weaving tranquillity from delicate melodies and at summoning vicious earnestness with each descent into guttural sludge. While they steadfastly oppose the lysergic tones of the first half of the night with their earthy aggression, there are some moments that it becomes a little much; the vocals in particular are sometimes that little bit too raw and don’t match up to the divergent approach that they’re taking elsewhere. Still, it’s not a happy world out there and for a negative primer for tonight’s headliners, Voe are obviously a good choice.
After this, it takes a while to get things set up for The Body and when they do take the stage half of the band are missing, drummer Lee Buford now replaced by Matt Melon from Philadelphia’s Pissgrave (as he has been for the entirety of their European tour). It’s of little consequence when the samples start up and the duo break into their monstrous, disconcerting assault on the ears, Chip King’s shrill howls of pain almost as affecting as his guitarwork. To be honest, though, it barely sounds like a guitar, distorted and cracked as it is to the point of self-implosion.
The wail of an air-raid siren heralds The Ebb And Flow Of Tides In A Sea Of Ash, a thunderous onslaught of dirt-encrusted tremolo and cannon-fire percussion that sounds even less like an actual song tonight. The Body are more of a nihilism machine, pouring out gallons of despair that’s so pure that it could be considered a tradable commodity, and they sound so all-consumingly huge that the fact that there’s only two of them seems an impossibility. Despite being brought in for the job, Melon is assertive and determined in his drumming, nailing every strike with ferocious precision, and his controlled chaos sits well with the band’s unique aesthetic.
Whether it’s down to their situation or perhaps it’s just how they work, it’s over as soon as it begins, with their four songs taking up almost the same time as they did in setting up. Still, it’s hardly a disappointment, and the intensity with which they vent their bile means that they’ve already crammed in as much as most bands could in an hour. On record, there’s no-one quite like The Body and they’ve shown that the same applies to them in person. It’s an assault that’s so direct, so distinctive, that there’s no point of comparison. It’s just punishing, and even with such adverse conditions, they’ve delivered a blinder of a set.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes
Photos by: Alan Swan (www.facebook.com/EdinburghGigPhotography)