Triple threat in Tufnell Park featuring Trepalium
Having heard only a single lick of one band on a bill before going to see any of them is sometimes a risk. I’d been assured of the quality of the headliner thanks to Simon’s glowing review of their new EP Damballa’s Voodoo Doll, but sometimes risks need to be taken.
Alas, neither of the opening acts – offer very much of interesting. With openers The Brood, nothing stands out in the music. There’s nothing particularly bad about them, but nothing to differentiate them from any other band of this style. The vocalist in particular makes a good go of it, but announcing song titles in a growl and calling for unwarranted enthusiasm doesn’t warm me to them. Still, the majority of the less jaded crowd of 30-odd seem to enjoy it, and more power to them.
Similarly, Hole In The Sky, whilst trying to make the most of the limited room available to them (with the headliner’s punishing kit taking up much of the rear of the stage), but much more energy is needed. I found myself zoning out on more than one occasion, and whilst some sections threatened to do something, they ultimately failed to deliver. Topped off by a vocalist rooted to the spot, I think a bit more time with the drawing board is needed.
Trepalium almost immediately show why they were worth the entry fee alone. They are bigger, better, and just more alive than either of the openers. Vocalist Cédric Punda, bedecked in skull makeup, fronts a troupe of talented and overtly capable musicians.
From the opening bars, their songs leap from the speakers with enthusiasm, eliciting more than just polite nods from the crowd. The groove is just phenomenal; rooted in jazz and a kind of tribal dance music, every beat, bounce and boogie is hammered home with metal’s trademark conviction. This is truly enthusiastic music – something that, even if you don’t like metal, you could find common cause with and find a beat to dance to.
Much like the voodoo vibe Trepalium seek to espouse, there’s magic to the ritual. Drummer Sylvain Bouvier’s dual bass drums thunder away – it’s so very loud – and the guitars are absolutely alive with energy.
Trepalium have an angle, and they do it very well. I can only imagine that, with a full brass complement and a decent sound system that this would sound even better. Even though it outstays its welcome so very minutely – there’s a tinge of repetition as we approach the end of the set – it’s so polished and punishing that you cannot really fault it.