Pretension within music is a notoriously ambiguous concept; after all, for every person driven into a post-orgasmic trance by Mogwai they’ll be another two asking where the vocals have gone. But then there’s pretension and there’s Ephel Duath. No doubt their game plan (I’m guessing it’s to cover every single musical genre known to man within the space of one song) is admirable but they execute it in such irritatingly smug fashion and with such little flair that it’s hard to feel anything other than murderous intent towards them as they wank over their fret boards. Everything about this band seems arbitrary, from the ‘I’m made, me’ singer screaming over everything to the trombone player who does little more than play single notes at random intervals. I’m sure someone somewhere in the world will say they like Ephel Duath; I’m also sure that someone will be lying when they say this.
If Ephel Duath are at pains to stress their total non-conformity, Poison The Well are apparently intent on doing the exact opposite. Initial impressions are hopeful as they open with an instrumental that owes more to Spaceman 3 than it does to Black Flag, but the band visibly lose confidence once the first shouts of “play some old stuff” are heard. With that in mind, they rush through a set of brutally effective hardcore that dutifully encompasses such crowd favourites as ‘Botchla’ and the ubiquitous ‘Nerdy’ but one that never strays far enough away from a mosh-worthy breakdown to be truly satisfying. On this evidence Poison The Well are an excellent band who clearly have a genre-defining album within them. Unfortunately their set also highlights why, bound as they are by such a narrow-minded scene, they may never release such an album.
Such worries have been pretty much irrelevant to The Dillinger Escape Plan since the release of their brilliant debut album ‘Calculating Infinity’ and the band are very much aware of this. As a live act they’re robotically precise, flitting between time signatures with telepathic ease whilst hurling themselves at the monitors that hang (more than slightly precariously) above the crowd. Dillinger also seem to appreciate the speed with which they’ve come to represent the black-haired trucker cap brigade and with that in mind, Greg Puciato dedicates a stunningly corrosive rendition of ‘The Mullet Burden’ to those in the audience who own ‘The Running Board’ EP. Despite this, the night belongs to the new material which seamlessly blends staggeringly technical hardcore with freeform jazz and industrial atmospherics whilst never losing sight of a cohesive song structure (take note, Ephel Duath). And as the nuclear bomb blast of ‘Sugar Coated Sour’ closes the set in suitably unhinged fashion it’s starkly apparent that, in an industry obsessed with the soulless fashionista demographic, Dillinger are the most important band around.