Live Review: Deafheaven & Touché Amoré w/ Portrayal Of Guilt | SWX, Bristol | 29/09/19

Photo: Kieran Gallop | GLK Media

Whilst it may be a Sunday evening, a time typically reserved for rest and quiet contemplation, Portrayal Of Guilt (9) are anything but gently pacifying. Majestically riding high following the release of their most recent EP Suffering Is A Gift, the Texan quintet are both severely violent and callously contemplative this evening. Drawing inspiration from authentic Nordic extremity before marring it with potent and subtle modern hardcore, the vicious wall of sound the Texan group conjure this evening is ravaging on a sub-atomic level. With lacerating tracks such as ‘Humanity Is Frail’ and ‘Moral Decay’ piercing every punter like a callous and surgical lobotomy, it becomes perfectly clear why this band have become hailed as the future trendsetters for modern intensity.

However, what separates them from their peers and contemporaries within modern musical extremity is their refusal to employ the tired and cliched traits commonly associated with blackened hardcore. Quietly reserved and lost within the tempest they channel tactfully, the group bask within an atmosphere of tortured dread and authentic misanthropy that is intricately dense. As ‘Your War’ guts the SWX like a house fire, Portrayal Of Guilt prove to be authentically bleak, holistic and genuinely exciting. Truly, the recent and borderline hyperbolic lofty praise surrounding this act is to be believed.

Photo: Kieran Gallop | GLK Media

In regards to sound and aesthetic, the post hardcore legends Touché Amoré (9) are ever so slightly contrastive in nature to their blackened counterparts this evening. However, in terms of emitting pure unfiltered emotion they utterly unparalleled. Performing their ceremonial debut ...To The Beat Of A Dead Horse in full in celebration of it’s tenth anniversary, Touché Amoré’s set is served in frantic, yet composed short bombardments of outpoured emotion, with the group’s documentation of personal struggle resonating with masses gathered. With punters blowing their voice boxes out in passion to timeless genre staples such as ‘Always Running Never Looking Back’, ‘History Reshits Itself’ and the rallying cry of ‘Honest Sleep’, the influence of ...To The Beat Of A Dead Horse can not be denied. Whereas many post-hardcore records may lose their poignancy with the passage of time, Touché Amoré’s full length long play has aged like the finest of wines and has never sounded more relatable or current.

As the group finish their sprint of the album before diving into content from Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me and their most recent full length Stage Four, this proves to be a set that allows an introspective look into the history behind one the most influential acts within the genre of post-hardcore. It’s a set that highlights the growth in skill the band have experienced over the past decade, and as the group perform their most recent single ‘Deflector’ to applause and commendation, it’s clear that this collective’s evolution is only set to continue. Capping a mammoth 23 track setlist with the crushing emotion of ‘Skyscraper’ and the outpouring confessional of the signature ‘~’, as proved by gleaming faces and by career fans fawning over the performance of rare deep cuts, this evening may have indeed played host to what may very be the definite Touché Amoré experience.

Photo: Kieran Gallop | GLK Media

Opening with the blackened grit and filth of their most recent offering, 'Black Brick', Deafheaven (9) are crushing this evening, with the group entertaining and animating their grinding blackgaze tendencies with stampeding ardour. Whilst some have expressed concern that their respective sound might contrast drastically with Touché Amore’s musical offerings, Deafheaven’s refusal to comply with black metal norms or aesthetics allows these bands to perform back to back fluidly. Compared to Touché Amore’s marathon 26 track set, Deafheaven’s six track setlist may feel a touch minute, in essence. However, each track track within this set stands as colossal monuments of sonic obsidian, towering and sprawling monuments to extremity and the hidden beauty within blackened intensity.

'Black Brick' blends into the withdrawn rancour of New Bermuda's ‘Brought To The Water’, with it’s galloping speed and fierce grandeur washing the SWX with beautiful calamity. However, it’s content from Ordinary Corrupt Human Love that captures the imagination and attention of the venue this evening, with such material darkly showcasing the dynamic power this extraordinary act hold dear. The stampeding nature of the colossal ‘Honeycomb’ ignites the venue in dark ecstasy, before arresting the populace with it’s supple, almost delicate post-rock sensibilities. In vein, the towering ‘Canary Yellow’ see’s the San Fransisco genre dynamos mar their blackened traits with contrasting yet endorsing dynamics, with the Bristolian population standing utterly captivated by the masterful performance happening before them.

However, even with Deafheaven’s abandonment of black metal tropes, a performance of the blossoming wonder of ‘Worthless Animal’ demonstrates the group’s ability to apply blackened traits to sounds and ideals not associated with the genre or relative aesthetic. Closing the evening with the euphoric, life affirming blackgaze rush of ‘Dream House’, Deafheaven prove that not only are the naysayers simply astray with their claims, the group are indeed still global influencers of modern black-metal tinged beauty. A wonderful evening of left field and forward thinking intensity.

Photo: Kieran Gallop | GLK Media


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