Ulcerate + Lunar Mantra + Deus Vermin @ Audio, Glasgow

Thursday, 18th April 2019
Review By: Pete Mutant

Two nights of metal in a row at Audio in Glasgow, having been thoroughly entertained at Jungle Rot’s gig the night before. Tonight, we had something entirely different to contend with; nearly at the opposite end of the spectrum as we were getting a mix of some blackened death a la Deus Vermin, some more atmospheric black metal from local titans Lunar Mantra and the technical exploits of the highly cerebral Ulcerate who were coming all the way from Auckland, New Zealand. Basically, they were coming from one of the furthest cities from Glasgow in the world and it had been several years since they last visited the city, at the same venue no less.

All three bands were to be firsts for me but I was very much aware of all of them. I had heard good things about all three of the bands, the quality of their live performances, and I was excited at the prospect of seeing all three in one night. They each had something a bit different and it made for a high quality billing with plenty of opportunity for something different to emerge. Being the third gig at Audio just this week, and another to go the next night when Saint Vitus came back to Glasgow, I wasn’t expecting there to be too much of sizeable crowd there tonight, and many of the faces that were there the night before took the day off but there were a few regulars.

The billing was set to start late and finish rather late too. The doors didn’t open until 20:00 and Deus Vermin [4.0/5] were punctual, starting ten minutes after the doors opened. More punctual than I expected. In fact, I missed the first minute or two of their opening track because of my lack of trust in advertised set times. When I did arrive, absolutely devastating heaviness was being distributed as two lights beamed from underneath the drum kit which obscured most of the band’s features. There were around 30 people there to soak up this barrage of music which was impressive from the start.

We went straight in to the second track, ‘Disdain’, which started as a very dark and abyssal arrangement as big chunky chords broke into some droning high notes. This created a very weighty atmosphere which would then be crushed by the band’s quick changing arrangements. Nothing stagnated or remained static as each member of the band did their own thing which culminated in this deranged sound.

Songs like ‘Worms’ and ‘Swarms’ kept the atmosphere shifting and the heaviness going strong. The chords would lash out over the more textured picking as AL’s vocals would boom over the maelstrom. The drumming was rather smashing too but the set was nearing its dramatic end as ‘Planetary Illness’ brought the first of the night’s performances to a triumphant close.

Lunar Mantra [4.0/5] brought a different edge to the aesthetic on stage. Incense, skulls and ritualistic banners completed the sights and smells before the sound would join. The four piece from Glasgow kept developing the atmosphere, built from the backing track until the sound would explode with crashing walls of slashing guitars and some stellar drumwork. The bass added a tinge of groove as we worked through the several modes of ‘Stellar Catacombs’.

Exortivm took the charge and brought the music to more far reaching realms as P.T. maintained the coarse rhythm. The horns would be thrown up and the crowd would respond with a roar of approval. The elongated chants and the ringing of a bell formed a hypnotic aura around the band as the other elements would build until the breaking point. They could be viciously heavy at times and it was hard to keep up with the rapid chord progressions at times but it all compounded into some fine atmospheric black metal.

‘Genesis’ is a cracking EP and we were getting a live rendition of it, but it was a different experience live than on record. The clean opening to the last track threw me off a little as it burned slowly until the distortion took over and the forces combined brilliantly. There was a massive barrage during a break and it was all becoming even more hypnotic. That was a fine introduction to this band’s live performance and left me looking forward to much more from the band. The ritual finished and it was on to the next and final act of the night.

Ulcerate [4.5/5] took to the stage and, by looking at their gear setup, you could tell that this was going to be a mad set. Madder than I could have conceived in actuality: once they started playing, it was mesmerising in itself to watch them operate their gear. Guitarist Michael Hoggard looked like he was manipulating the Hadron Collider constantly. His foot work was exceptional as I was sucked in watching him deftly tap from pedal to pedal, on/off switch, move and repeat then other side of the board, on and on

What really caught me in the headlights the most was the skill and technique of drummer Jamie Saint Merat; a saintly name for a saintly drummer. He displayed mad technical flourishes without looking panicked or too heavily concentrated for that matter. Even bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland appeared to be using the inner workings of an atom bomb himself whilst traversing the frets and booming out his vocals.

There’s no new music to speak of really but we were getting a high quality set that intertwined perfectly. Each song complimented the other and, like the previous bands, nothing stayed static as each song progressed and broke then subdued, built then broke with a seamless execution despite all the efforts and concentration requirements. ‘Abrogation’ was a behemoth of a track as was the next track, ‘Soulessness Embraced’, which had these heavy connections that blasted mercilessly to the point where I thought a kidney had been dislodged. And that wasn’t anything to do with the cans of Stella.

‘Everything Is Fire’ started off in a rapid fashion but went into some bottom-end heavy goodness before Michael Hoggard brought out his tapping skills to accentuate the music further. We were winding down now, well, set wise, but the music was still furious, technical but atmospheric as well. A very different sonic experience from what I was used to seeing and hearing, but a very good one all the same. It was a proper mix of extreme music and a successful model for a tour of the island as a whole. Forces were allied with a foreign invader that invaded our ears and our minds to leave a distinct impression worth remembering. Saint Vitus were next but I was taking the day off, peace out.

Setlist

End Of Hope
Dead Oceans
Extinguished Light
Clutching Revulsion
Abrogation
Soullessness Embraced
Cold Becoming
Everything Is Fire
Shrines Of Paralysis
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