I wasn’t going to blog about last night’s Loma Prieta, Bastions and Monolithian gig in Bristol’s Exchange – I’ve never had a chance to properly check out the bands, and I’ve got no desire to do an NME and criticise bands I don’t understand for the sake of it. John Rostron tweeted a really good example of how not to be a critic yesterday – a review in the London Evening Standard of the 6 Music Prom, which was both lazy (only actually mentions 1 song in the whole review) and a bit lazily offensive (Cerys Matthews sang “something in Welsh” – top notch research). There’s very little to be gained by wilfully telling a band they’re rubbish (though my friend Scott once pledged to write a letter to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers telling them just how rubbish they were when they played Reading because he felt they needed to wake up and sort themselves out).
But I did blog about it – mainly because the first band I saw after missioning it from Cardiff were Monolithian, who were amazing! They were heavy (and the lead singer was hairy) as hell, despite there being only 2 of them (bassist and singer and drummer) – I thought of them as a bit of a metal Death From Above 1979. Their music was stripped back to the bare essential heavy bass and straight down the line drums, with vocals that reminded me of Down. Awesome headbanging too.
Now I’m no longer buying Kerrang! it’s fair to say both the Wave and it’s UK Swell equivalent have passed me by. But Bastions smashed it up and showed why I should be paying more attention. They started their set as they meant to go on – with intensity. The first song involved muted guitar and shouting without a mic. There was a bit more contrast in the vocals (which ranged from speaking to screaming), plus their frontman made the most of being the only 1 tonight who wasn’t also playing an instrument by charging hard and jumping between the edge of the front of the stage and the drums at the back. Their song In the Shadow of a Mountain brought questions to mind about where they come from – Anglesey, which is not far from Snowdonia. North Wales isn’t traditionally known for its hardcore, but I’m gonna have to check it out in the future if these guys are anything to go by.
Last but not least was Loma Prieta, who were reminiscent of Slayer at times with their Skate punk beats and metal chords, but then their swift rhythm changes meant their was a massive contrast in what they did. Drum fills were intentionally dropped so that the beats changed starkly, but they somehow managed to keep their live sound really tight. It was probably one of the most memorable endings to a gig I’ve seen, where they used a loop pedal to keep their sounds going, with each band member leaving the stage 1 at a time. It was pretty disconcerting as no one was quite sure if and when the gig had finished, but it was startlingly effective.