Full Of Hell and Disciples Of Christ’s European tour rolls through London
NB: lineup changed but not reflected in poster
I’ve been raving about the headliner of this bill ever since I saw them supporting Circle Takes The Square at the Underworld last summer. As if possessed by a host of demons, the MD/PA quartet held the audience completely rapt. It was an exhibition in stagecraft, and one that I’d be mad to turn down again – especially if it dangles free entry and the cheapest pints in Camden in front of your face.
Shows at The Unicorn are always without charge, marking it as one of the best North London venues to try out smaller bands without the gamble of a ticket price. With six bands on the bill tonight, it would have been rude not to get into this spirit wholeheartedly, so I was in and a pint down by the time openers Charlotte Light And Dark - seemingly named for the fictional book about Six Feet Under character Brenda Chenowith – take to the stage, a bit later than expected – and there’s a fairly decent crowd gathering already.
The first couple of tracks necessitate nervous restarts thanks to some complicated strumming/drumming patterns, which guitarist Humza and drummer Harold get a little tangled over. It’s unfortunate, as it’s a characteristic that blights their set a little bit. The songs have heart, and are ambitious in their execution, but the issues disclose either nerves, or perhaps a little practice – or at least recent stage experience. I also can’t tell if the guitar makes me uncomfortable in a good way or a bad way – there may have been an out-of-tune element to them, but that’s sometimes deliberate in this genre.
Elements of admirable bands like The Fall Of Troy, Circle Takes The Square and At The Drive-In creep in to their passionate screamo: clean tones are utilised; tempo is changed often, and frontman Darran Nolan’s screams are caustic and frenzied.
The last song falls apart a little bit around a bare, stripped-back section, which is a shame, but this is clearly a blip in the performance, and not one we’d see repeated.
I was unsure about Northerners Iced Out at the beginning of their set, but they really drew me in. They’re relatively simplistic at first glance, with the music built around the repeated and sometimes plodding riff patterns of guitarist Adam Kennedy, but there are subtle intricacies abound, and a unity between the quartet that is powerful and effective. Frontman Chippy is wild-eyed, wild-haired and engaging, forging into the crowd often and bulling around. The music works on a primal level, injecting filth and riffs into a receptive crowd, who respond in kind.
Up next are former Iced Out collaborators Razoreater, who conspired together on a split last year, and things really get going here crowd-wise. Their set essentially boils down to crusty riffs played at two speeds that are either like wading through tar or stirring as fuck. With the lights casting a bloody red haze over the band and crowd, the mosh pit was stirred from the outset and didn’t let up. As such there’s a real energy throughout the set, and both band and crowd feed off each other. Feedback hums constantly as they storm through a set reminiscent of the likes of Trap Them and Entombed – they’re angry and dripping with some kind of viscous venom – perhaps a mix of sweat and
Fourth up are Liverpudlians We Came Out Like Tigers, the first of the bigger names on the bill, and they’re like Orchid and Ampere had an angry, anti-facist baby and gave it shark teeth.
Frontman Simon Barr is seen sound checking a violin, which ends up adding some extra intensity to the band’s sound in a simple fashion. It’s used sparingly though, and is all the more effective for this restraint. Its second use in mid-set song “Careworm“, from this year’s Ever-Crushed At Pecket’s Well, strikes rhythmically like a heartbeat. Mykle Smith’s bass in this track is powerful, and in fact is a highlight all round, adding a heady foundation to the emotive hardcore. Fabian Devlin’s delay-heavy guitar is mournful and emotive, and the song’s crescendo is huge.
Another track towards the end makes great use of four way screams between the whole band. Barr takes some time between songs to espouse the band’s fierce politics, which take on a very “fuck the right wing” vibe.
The final track has the entire room moving and again is absolutely riveting. The drums pound whilst Barr’s screams mix with Smith’s singing, whose voice is mournful and bittersweet. It’s apt that this song brings the set of the night so far to a close.
D.O.C. – which stands for Disciples Of Christ – are cacophonously, trouser shittingly low. The band’s music reverberates throughout the room and back into the pub, leaving little space for air or even a cogent thought. It’s heavy and it’s angry and it’s depth-plumbingly deep. The vocalist, whose name I can’t find anywhere, crouches to roar into his mic, and it’s apt that he does so; it feels more guttural as a result.
Impressively, they’re only a trio, and so to be probably the loudest band of the night is no mean feat. There’s also a distinctly metallic tint to their sound that will likely have drawn in those in the crowd more interested in metal than hardcore.
And so Full Of Hell take to The Unicorn’s modest stage to round off the evening’s entertainment. They don’t particularly look like they’re capable of rending your soul asunder by way of your eyeballs – they’re just average dudes – but that’s exactly what they do; totally and utterly.
It’s a whirlwhind of noise and bodies from the outset – the crowd are right up for this – but on stage it’s a lot more calculated than you might think, given the sonic maelstrom produced. The four piece’s mastery of their craft in creating huge walls of feedback, which batter and bludgeon like a drunken stepfather. It has legs too; this doesn’t let up for one second, and it’s exhausting.
Vocalist Dylan Walker is just an extension of this noise. His voice, guttural and coarse, mixes with the wail of Spencer Hazard’s guitar; it’s like gargling tar. Rhythm duo Dave Bland (drums) and Skylar Hoffman (bass) are less about providing a steady undercurrent, and more about punctuating the cacophony with depth and tribal malice. In the faster, grindier sections, they set a blistering pace, and it’s what you might imagine the soundtrack to demons mating might be like; a hellish Kenny G.
It’s the perfect end to a smashing evening, and a great reminder that I don’t go to nearly enough hardcore shows. Neither do you, so next time they roll through town, make sure you don’t miss out.