Thou / Gruel / Moloch – Bradford 19/06/09
1in12 Club, Bradford 19/06/09
Dig this crazy shit you dirty beatniks…a dope-laced Trans-Pennine road trip to the heart of the North’s most infamous nest of anarcho-crust in order to witness three little doombands of differing brilliance but equal heaviness. Yay! So off we set in the big silver estate, upholstered in cat fur, blasting out Acrimony and Hawkwind, racing over the barren hills of the Lancs/Yorks border, whirling around the abandoned mills of Bradford until we found the place where the cider ran like fermented apple juice and plumes of fragrant herbal smoke rose from the cobbles like dragon’s breath in Mordor.
Moloch were loud and nasty, as I hoped they would be/should be. Lead screamer Chris planted himself on the floor in front of the stage and strained his big bearded head like a lumberjack being fist-fucked in the woods. There’s nowt new about their squealing sludge but there doesn’t need to be. They have a great name and a filthy sound; they are heavy hardcore slowed down for a doomed-out bonged-out crowd of losers and they kicked ARSE. Particularly new drummer Henry. He looks like Terry Nutkins (legendary balding otter-fucker from kids TV) gone wrong, and he hits the drums very hard indeed. I couldn’t take my bleary eyes off his ferocious bursts of rhythmic violence. Shit hot. Moloch were cool, and watching them made me drink my cider fast.
Out of the three tonight I was anticipating Gruel the most. I had received a CD copy of their new double a week previous, and it simply blew me away. Watching them is like being hurled through time and space to another dimension where science never got off the blocks, and Jesus was buried and forgotten forever. Gruel are more crust than sludge, and possess a strong identity that pays worship to almost forgotten bands like Antisect and Icons of Filth. Their landscape-blasting mutation of pulsing dub-bass, crunching six-string doom-drenched grandiosity and hoarse rasps from the syphilis-riddled gob of the man in the cowl all mix up to spew forth some of the grimmest and most pulse racing music that these ears have heard in a long time. Crust-doom is reborn for the 21st century, and its name is Gruel. 40 minutes of condensed double lp – sheep jaw bones, booming drums, blood dripping from the ceiling, a very fine seven foot staff of gnarled oak and more dry ice than “Carry On Screaming” – this is what we fucking want!! Well, it’s what I want. Everyone liked it or loved it. Gruel are the missing link I was looking for, successfully straddling Hammer films, heavy dub, British crust-punk of the eighties and Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”. Med-evil. Get it?
Thou caused a minor, or possibly major controversy, by only playing for just under twenty minutes. They were excellent of course – great ripping slabs of tortuous punk-sludge rage, and Bryan’s inhuman sub-Black Metal vocals and intense stage performance was mightily impressive, but it was seemingly over before it had begun. Deliberate pretence (you could be right Slug of Nantwich) or just plain jet-lagged? They did look impossibly young; two were very tiny youths whose guitars looked like they were the size of cellos at the side of their matchstick frames. Maybe it was past their bed-time? Anyway, I loved ’em. Prolific band; cerebral, angry, intense about everything they do, beautiful album sleeves. Can’t knock the Cajun misery-midgets. I would be interested to know if they play similar super-short sets on the rest of their big tour. Do write in and tell us. Anyway, Gruel should have headlined. I can see these chaps on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ in a few months, waving sheep skulls and squirting blood at the tossers in the audience. Pagan-tastic. Anyway, a splendid night of skull-fucking volume. Back over the hills for a mug of cocoa and a cheese sandwich at Lee’s house. Hurrah!!
Scribed by: Adam Stone
Photos by: Lee Edwards