Despite this late October evening playing host to one of the first true chills of the impending winter, as Armed For Apocalypse (8) tear into their set the temperature within The Crofters Rights suddenly peaks to volcanic levels. Presenting a rapturous amount of heft and density within their primordial groove, the Californian punishers charge through material from last year’s Palm Reader EP with so much density it’s a surprise the foundations of this venue don’t crumble from the sheer force. It’s a pulverising wall of sound, with the hulking and down tuned riffs of tracks such as ‘Worlds Beneath’ and the title track of the aforementioned EP aurally assaulting the South Western populace with carnivorous and stripped down savagery.
Even with the group crossing the great Atlantic for this run of dates, their second UK tour of this year, the trio are clearly more than at home on our shores, with their guttural riffs and shifting, blistering tempos evidently appealing to the early arrivers. Closing with a delivery that see’s the pharynx tearing vocals of Cayle Hunter piercing the fibre of every punter in attendance, whilst Armed For Apocalypse are by no means strangers to our nation, this will be the tour that shall imprint their namesake into the subconscious of the national scene.
Displaying a more nuanced, artistic and introspective shade of metallic extremity, the recent hype surrounding Earth Moves (9) becomes swiftly understandable tonight. With the group now being just weeks away from the release of their second long play Human Intricacy, the quintet perform with energised yet agonised zeal, a factor that only animates their pained and deeply intimate craft to a level that becomes unescapable. With content from The Truth In Our Bodies and The Absurd Man romantically reminiscing the devastating work of artists such as Envy, Have A Nice Life and Glassing, it’s impossible not to be dragged into the pained and agonised hellscapes that Earth Moves manifest. Yet despite such atmospheric companions, the group’s intimate and ravaging work is only intensified by the flawless incorporation of expertly interweaved black metal, shoegaze and post hardcore sensibilities.
Even with the brilliance of performed material from their discography thus far, it’s material from the upcoming Human Intricacy that truly showcases the phenomenal skill that the group project artistically. With it’s firsthand aural misery and charred, black metal shimmering, the yet to be released ‘Catatonic’ stands as a key moment within this set. With additional bestial roars from Conjurer’s Dan Nightingale, the impassioned performance of progressive anxiety stuns the inhabitants of the Crofters into silence. Whilst countless artists have tried to amalgamate exposed and raw emotional atmospherics with ravishing extreme sonics, Earth Moves are clearly one of the few who can execute such an endeavour effortlessly. If this performance is any indication, Human Intricacy could well and truly be a late stage contender for the album of the year for many a connoisseur of metallic intensity.
Since the release of their debut Mire in early 2018, many followers of extreme underground metal have heralded Conjurer (10) as being the future of British heavy music. It’s a sentiment that’s been shared and expressed thousands of times throughout the past two years, with the Midlands four piece having spent the last year bringing their sonic desolation to fields afar, such as having just recently annihilated the states alongside Revocation and Voivod. However, this set just solidifies such a sentiment. Performing to yet another sold out crowd, Conjurer are not only utterly unforgiving and uncompromising this evening, they are simply flawless. Whilst the band still adhere to their respective DIY roots on this run, every aspect of their live show, from the sound engineering to the lighting, has been tailored to ensure that their status as future genre leaders is unquestionable.
Opening with the immediate and instant assault of ‘Thankless’ prior to casting aural and atmospheric dread with ‘The Mire’, the strength, intelligence and composure Conjurer hold collectively becomes evidently forefront. Even despite the capacity of this grass roots venue, this performance and production could easily be hosted within some of the more larger and lofty venues within Bristol city centre, with the flawless mixing and complimenting lighting resulting in an experience that truly makes Conjurer’s work physically tangible and intimidatingly palpable. However, what is unexpected is the fact that tonight plays host to the band performing their entire discography in full, with unprecedented performances of ‘Behold The Swine’ and the scathing ‘Scorn’ igniting both glee and jubilant aggression under the light of dissociating strobes. With such tracks serving as snarling and gripping aural weapons, to witness these tracks being given new life live is utterly phenomenal, with Conjurer pumping new found energy, creativity and confidence into such material.
With the raging, feral ‘Wretch’ and the vividly crushing ‘Hadal’ inevitably being the cause of an outbreak of crippled trapezius muscles the following morning, it’s difficult to estimate just what heights await Conjurer. With this production and performance, the group have well and truly proved themselves to be the future of creative extremity and it’s clearly only a matter of time before intimate gatherings such as this are just a cherished memory. The future belongs to Conjurer, and they clearly have both the means and intentions of brutally seizing it.