See also: Interview with Lower Slaughter
I’ve waited 18 months or so to see Lower Slaughter, much longer for Henry Blacker. Neither band play live that often so coming tonight is a must. The Old England in Bristol that hosts regular gigs of this sort, it’s small, literally a back-street joint so there will only be about 50 or 60 people here. Everyone’s very mellow and approachable, even I manage to get chatting with a complete stranger about music for about half an hour or so over a pint.
If ever there were a good example of why people should make the effort and see support bands Pohl are it. They are a two-piece Bristol band and make a beautifully painful progressive metal racket, it has a hint of the Ruins about it but much harder (a much more forceful delivery that their tracks on Bandcamp too). They start pretty tentatively but this is followed by so much animation during the second track that the guitarists glasses fly off and end up by the toilet door. By the third number they seem completely locked together. The guitar playing is all wonderfully technical riffs while the drumming is super fluid throughout the set which ends all too soon. I’ll be seeing these guys again.
Somerset’s Henry Blacker do not fuck about. Considering they’ve been putting the hard yards in playing live and recording for years you wouldn’t be able to pick them out in a police line-up; they are so unassuming and unpretentious for a rock band. There is close up of Joe on the cover of his new book though so he won’t be able to hide for much longer.
As you would expect the set is packed with huge sludgy stoner riffs that pile upon you with an awesome weight. I’d not really expected the sheer attack of them live though it’s just relentless, seeing them is definitely an event. Tim’s vocals are delivered with a snarl or in the case of ‘Shit magus’ withering distain… If you are going to employ a magus of such staggering ineptitude as the one in this song what is there left to do other than shake your head and say ‘Fuck sake’. They follow up with Cag Mag, it’s unfortunate the song title always reminds me of someone I once met who had a vigorous cagoule fetish. As with most of their songs though the subject matter is far more sinister than a man’s over developed affection for nylon waterproofs, ‘It’ll turn you inside out, coming off the flesh, an uninvited guest’ you get the gist.
Lower Slaughter open with the first three tracks from their new album, ‘Gas’ in particular is a psychological killer as a beginning. Doom guitar and vocal despair on the intro breaks into an insistent challenge and fuck you to the oppressor, I don’t think they were expecting it. For all the introspection and fierceness that Sinead brings to the delivery there is no getting pass what an uplifting experience it is to watch them live. Yeah it takes strength to pick apart life’s shit but look what happens when you come out the other side. Sinead makes an appeal during the set for everyone to look after their mental health; do therapy, be mindful, take meds if you need to. Wise words.
It’s difficult to comprehend that all four of them are together so seldom they move forward as one at all times. Trying to pin down the direct influences on the sound of the band is an exercise in futility. Punk attitude, noise, classic 70’s cheesy guitar, some nicely detuned guitars plus lots and lots of heavy riffs, so much is brought it it’s best to just soak it up rather than pick it apart.
They finish with Caliban And The Witch / Tied Down from the first album both of which are delivered at full intensity and 1000 miles per hour before curfew. I thank Sinead afterwards and she says she’s just glad if a few people like, I tell her everyone fucking loved it.
Joe Thompson’s Book ‘Sleevenotes’: