Atom Smasher have the pleasure of chilling at our home base, Rebellion in Manchester, with The Beauty Witch curating three amazing bands. Massachusetts progressive stoner metal quartet Elder have come back around for the second time touring their incredible new album ‘Reflections Of A Floating World’, and Rebellion is absolutely rammed tonight in anticipation!
As the crowd begins to pour in, two drummers grace the Rebellion stage facing each other, looking like a loud and menacing duel is about to kick off. Leeds’ noiseniks CATTLE commence battle! Featuring two drummers, two noise pedallers and a bass player (sadly their saxophonist is absent tonight). Seeing Cattle perform live is somewhere between watching a band perform, and witnessing an Olympic event to see which player can make the most ear shattering sonic chaos! It’s not always clear if this band are playing their instruments or gracefully murdering them, in the most endearing way. Of course to say that Cattle are just the musical equivalent of a mushroom cloud explosion would be massively underselling them. Though their music is excessively loud, dense, noisy and busy, Cattle actually construct their music with plenty of intricacies. In particular the two drummers are often mirroring each other’s performances, creating a symmetry as they are plonked on the stage directly staring each other in the eyes. And whilst there are plenty of jagged tempo changes, choppy rhythms and manic drum-fills, there are distinct sections where groove plays a massive part. This is emphasised even more by their fantastic funk and post-punk influenced bass guitar lines that really anchor the songs. It’s everything on top of that, the blasts of noise, the reverb heavy indecipherable screams and the sheer density and weight of their compositions that makes Cattle sound so abstracted, like a draw full of hundreds of tangled wires. Cattle remain one of the most exciting and strange live acts in the UK right now.
Performing against a dimly lit backdrop presenting them in silhouette, Californian prog outfit ANCESTORS take the Rebellion stage. Sandwiched between Cattle and Elder, Ancestors present a wave of calm. Opening with the majesty of ‘Gone’ from their latest album ‘Suspended In Reflections’, their guitars emit a Floydian vibe, with majestic vocal harmonies soaring across the venue. But it is the mid-point of their set that really stirs up the crowd, launching into a slow, crushing and plodding doom riff, backed up with earth shattering bass and a more fierce vocal attack. Whilst there are plenty of fantastic individual moments in Ancestors’ set, there are also some swampier moments where riffs feel like they are building to something without a pay off, or a song feels a little too noodly or directionless in the live setting. Whilst they are certainly a talented and interesting band, Ancestors feel a little mismatched against the two much more energetic bands that surround them tonight.
Excitement is high, and there are so many people in Rebellion tonight that you can barely even move, as ELDER take the stage in their usual joyous and upbeat manner. They open with a ripping rendition of ‘Sanctuary’, or as guitarist and vocalist and a legion of screaming fans might put it, “SANC-TU-ARRRRRY!!!”. The sound in Rebellion tonight is liquid clear, allowing every intricate lead guitar part to really shine. It’s not hard to look around and see people in the crowd air-guitaring. Elder use vocals rather sparingly, so a lot of the time it is the fantastic twiddly guitars that do the singing, and the Manchester crowd are feeling every note tonight. Elder mainly showcase their unbelievable new album ‘Reflections Of A Floating World’, one of the most exciting guitar albums of recent times, but finish on a spectacular finale of oldie ‘Dead Roots Stirring’, that takes them exactly up to the 11pm curfew. Their performances are monumentally tight, tantalising the crowd with ALL THE RIFFS! Their second guitarist does an excellent job doubling up on keyboards during some of the more psychedelic tinged moments, and their drummer is a joy to behold, keeping such a consistent and high energy flowing. Though Elder’s tunes are very progressive, encompassing varying moods and flavours, only rarely do they let that high energy drop off. Beholding Elder in the flesh is a jaw dropping experience. Witnessing such incredible passion and talent on stage is absolutely awe inspiring!
Words and photos: Chris “Frenchie” French