This was a special show for me, as I was really excited to see Horror Vacui perform. I've been following them closely since their debut LP "In Darkness You Will Feel Alright" in 2012, and this is the first time they've toured the states. I have also sporadically been in contact with them since about the same time, so I was looking forward to actually meeting everyone in person (the whole band was super-cool and chill, thanks to them for putting up with me!). There is a review on this blog of the aforementioned debut, and there will be a review of their new LP for 2014, "Return Of The Empire" which will rank highly on my best of 2014 list, I reckon. Anyway, onwards!
First up was Brooklyn, NY's Statiqbloom, one of Fade Kainer's many projects. It seems every time I go to a show, he's performing with a new act! I am familiar with his projects Batillus, a killer doom metal band with heavy electronics (think Godflesh slowed down with Genesis P. Orridge providing gristly electronic noisy overlays); and Theologian (whose material I have to catch up on!), a noisy power electronics group of much industrial might. Statiqbloom might be my favorite of these projects, it sounds to me like 'Remission' era Skinny Puppy for its rhythms and hallucinatory nature, mixed with the harshness of Dive and a touch of Belgian EBM like Front 242 in the beats and bass lines. Fade always gets animated live, his vocals (whether augmented with effects or not) are commanding and he screams like he's excising some splinter from deep in his psyche. He is able to make laptop management, button mashing, and knob-turning look exciting and sexy the way rock and roll has affected playing the guitar. There was a projector show as well with some great imagery, black and white and just blurry enough to disturb, as you couldn't always quite tell what you were looking at. Furthermore, the imagery was occasionally more static-like, as in 'tv snow' lending a disorienting element that I appreciated. I certainly recommend seeing any of Fade's projects live, but especially this one!
Next up and also of Brooklyn, NY, were the Bootblacks. They brought a catchy darkwave/post-punk sound. The vocals were melancholic, reminiscent of Chameleons UK, Joy Division, and early Depeche Mode. The guitar was more noisy and deftly moved from lead to accent in the songs, I could sense some Bauhaus in there, especially in the noisy, proto-shoegaze finish at the end of the set. The drumming was original and also reminded me of Bauhaus, in that there was lots of variety in time-signatures; the drums were always as fast or as slow as they needed to be to propel the song but often did so in a rhythm less traveled. The real hook for me were the synth lines, also reminiscent of Joy Division but more-so New Order, mixed with early Depeche Mode yet again. The synth lines are very hooky, and seem to get their barbs in deeper each time I hear them, so listener be wary!
Finally, it was time for Bologna, Italy's Horror Vacui. Horror Vacui are a deathrock band in the vein of early artists like Christian Death and Fields of the Nephilim, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and early Bauhaus in that they still have punk aggressiveness and dirt along with excellent melancholy. Their sound is more desperate, sounding energetic and needing expression at any outlet rather than sounding desolate, cold and defeated. They feel more like a pressue valve demanding to let off steam rather than a broken, dead one. Too many 'goth rock' acts sound either too derivative or hopeless (which can still be good...) to capture the energy, the feeling of early Deathrock. Horror Vacui know EXACTLY what they're doing! Their set was solid, including: "The Return Of The Empire" and "In Darkness," closing with a cover of Discharges' "Decontrol" that was quite impressive. The band played with much vigor and sounded great live, not an easy feat considering the layers of guitar effects and dual guitar approach, need for clear vocals (with their own effects) in the mix AND the fact that this was the last date in an intensive North American Tour. Drums were driving, bass was pounding, the guitars shimmering, and the vocals dominating. It would be hard to have more fun at a Goth/Deathrock show than seeing Horror Vauci as they are a great politically and emotionally aware melancholic punk rock that you can really move to! Definitely see them live and pick up ALL of their material if you like stuff like the Amebix, early Fields Of The Nephilim, Rozz Williams' Christian Death, Rudimentary Peni, and Chameleons UK with touches of early, 7" era Sisters of Mercy and early Killing Joke.
*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*