Farewell tours are always worth heading down to, even if you don’t know the artist in question all that well. I’d missed Swiss quintet Kruger by a hair at the Ouch My Generator! show with Oathbreaker and Coilguns last October, and with this their last European tour, a former colleague suggested this was something I shouldn’t miss.
The evening’s show was moved last minute from The Macbeth in Hoxton to Camden’s premier free venue The Unicorn, which served my purposes much better – although I’m too late to catch The Day Of Locusts.
I do arrive in time for Old Man Lizard to get going however, and I’m almost immediately glad I did. Although only a trio, there’s the immediate presence of Gav Senior’s beautifully big, fuzzy bass, marking this as some kind of stoner outfit – and not only that, but one with distinctly progressive leanings.
The sound is generally gorgeous throughout, and hits hard without losing clarity or tone. Frontman Jack Newnham’s harsh barks contrast his more dulcet tones nicely, reveling in songs about eating cabin boys and the man who had an evil face on the back of his head – a song that comes mid-way through the set about Edward Mordake, an unfortunate nineteenth century man with an extra face on the back of his head, which according to folklore whispered the most horrendous, evil things to him until he killed himself aged 23. Horrible as that sounds, the song is awesome. It’s built around a gorgeous central proggy chord progression worthy of frontman Jack Newnham’s gorgeous guitar.
It’s a great start to the evening, and not one I’d normally listen to, so a nice surprise.
Kruger take the stage next, and it’s less a musical performance and more like a ritual. Vocalist Renaud is like a priest, ‘blessing’ and kissing 80% of the audience at some point or another during his frequent forays across the room. It’s all ever so slightly hypnotic.
Drummer Raph utilises a strange mix of death metal and hardcore styles which sounds simple enough, but when you watch him you’re not sure how he’s doing what he is, and it’s intriguing. Combined with Blaise’s bass, it creates a really low base on which the band build their sound.
The guitars are a little ill-defined at times – whether this is intentional or not is unclear – but it creates an overall cacophonous hardcore dirge – like doom with pace. Unfortunately Renaud is too far back in the live mix to be heard clearly. It’s not a massive problem as he makes his presence known in other ways, but I’m informed by my informant that this is not how it’s meant to be.
And finally we come to dutch outfit Monomyth – a proper prog band and no mistake. All instrumental, they utilise keys, guitar (double necked plus a more conventional single necked), bass, drums, laptop and various other pedals and gubbins.
They’re built very much on the 70s prog model so beloved of Opeth now. Songs build patiently, but rely on your patience for the payoffs, which are admittedly impressive. There’s no crowd interaction – the music is almost non-stop, which allows them to build atmosphere with their music, and in combination with some nice lighting it’s very effective.
They group are all accomplished musicians, clearly; guitarist Thomas’ solos are noodly and satisfying in a Hendrixian way, and there’s never a hair out of place from any of them. It’s perhaps a little fret-watchy for my taste but accomplished and well considered nonetheless.