Irish trio Murdock return to mainland UK
The Macbeth is not a venue either of us had visited until this year, but with Nightshift Promotions seemingly taking up residency at the modest Hoxton pub, it’s one we plan to come back to several times over the coming months. This evening’s entertainment comes in the form of 5 bands with varying degrees of the hardcore bent about them.
Brighton quartet hate fuck open the night, and everything about their demeanour generally says “we don’t give a” – including the words from their actual mouths, pretty much. They’ve an easy stage presence – but perhaps a little too easy; throughout the set they could hardly be described as playing their hearts out, and whilst that attitude seems to be their M.O., it’s a little hard to stomach for me.
Their raucous, discordant hardcore is energetic, but the guitarist is sloppy – not such a concern with this kind of punk, but even so it’s noticeable. A high point is the drummer, however, who embodies the scatty energy of the genre; wild looks, fast beats and freedom – but he’s tight, and certainly a saving grace for the band.
Their last song ups ante and its discord is tangible. It would be great if there was more like this.
South Londoners Ithaca are next to take the stage – or mostly take the stage, as the case may be. Both diminutive frontwoman Djamilia and one of the pair of guitarists remain on the floor of the venue for the duration of the set. Whilst there is a love within hardcore circles of the ‘floor show’, the configuration of the venue, with it’s narrow pinch point around the bar, means that it’s very difficult for anyone not in the first couple of rows to actually see what these two are getting up to. The Macbeth’s stage is certainly not the biggest, but given the relatively small amount of movement emanating from the stage-bound guitarist and bassist, there was probably enough room for all of them on stage.
Musically, they spit out a jagged, mathy brand of hardcore, with off-kilter discordance bringing to mind early The Dillinger Escape Plan. There’s also some fairly weighty chugging at times, which might suggest the odd early Metallica album lurking at the backs of the record collections of some of the members. From what we can see, the tracks are delivered with a sincere fury, they contain heaps of character and some very pleasing moments.
However, the band seem a little let down by the drummer, who doesn’t look particularly comfortable in his role and can be seen counting out loud as he plays. On a number of occasions, the momentum gets sucked out of the tracks by a seeming lack of fluidity in this department, which is a pity as there’s plenty in Ithaca’s sound to be enthusiastic about.
Svalbard‘s blackened hardcore combines lots of tremolos with an epic ambient vibe akin to Devil Sold His Soul. There are some really tasty, groove-laden sections, but others subvert expectation – they speed up when you expect them to go slow and vise versa, creating a weird sort of tension. Whether you like that or not, it’s quite clever and some great attention to detail in their songwriting.
Often utterly cacophonous, there’s not much definition in guitars, and the drummer keeps up a fierce pace. There’s also some very black metal elements to compositions that are really, really good in places – but not consistently so. For me there’s a bit of waffle – sections that go on a little too long – but overall a strong, varied performance.
Pariso give us probably the most straightforwardly heavy set of the night, setting off at a blistering pace, before reigning in the tempo for some properly brawny riffing. This fast and frantic/slower and beefier combination reminds me of the metallic hardcore movement of days gone by – and bands like Beecher in particular – that seems to have been largely overtaken by metalcore. Perhaps it is splitting hairs to make this distinction, but as riff after riff bursts out of the PA, it feels appropriate.
There is a particularly respectable crowd watching the band, but almost everyone, it seems, is content to stand stock still and listen. Once again, the singer is down on the floor, so I have literally no idea what he looks like, but even with him (presumably) getting in people’s faces, there’s virtually no movement in the crowd whatsoever.
However, their short set is jam-packed with impressively chewy riffs and a strong sense of dynamic control, making it a varied and engaging listen. Further investigation showed that the band have teamed up with Svalbard for a split release that is definitely worth a listen, and captures their splenetic attack in fine form.
Certainly the band I was most excited to see, Irish trio Murdock are about to release an album via Basick Records, and after a couple of years of teasing, I’m about ready to bust. This is definitely one to see from the front.
The main reason for this is to get the best possible view of drummer Ronan, who is absolutely something else. If you’ve seen videos of him you’ll already be aware of this, but to see him in the flesh is jaw-dropping – his speed and technicality is utterly ridiculous, and even for a non-drummer, slightly emasculating. God damn.
I believe this is new bassist Rob Powderly’s first show with the band, after joining in January. He lives in London, but seems to have slotted in with no trouble at all. In fact, the set’s only problem comes with a technical issue with Aidan’s second guitar, which necessitates a couple of long pauses, clearly to his frustration – but it doesn’t hamper things too much at all. Renditions of new single “Deer Noises” and as well as “Brain Face” and a variety of cuts from Dead Lung - played furiously and even faster than their recorded BPM – go down well with the crowd. I’m very excited to hear it in recorded form.
Before long it’s all over, and everyone’s left feeling a little sweaty – again, despite not much movement. Midweek blues maybe?