Words By: Drew Kraplijanov
Once upon an 8pm dreary, while I cruised down Leach Highway. My girlfriend, my best friend and myself listening to a Warren Zevon cassette almost virtually speeding, trying to make to Mojo’s in time for the first of many supporting acts for Drowning Horse.
Self-Harm was a wild, visceral experiment. Their set was unpredictable and versatile. The tense Black Metal sections of their songs were balanced out by groovy, dissonant Sludge Metal passages. The pacing and arrangements of the rhythmic accents of these passages helped the heavy, uneasy riffs hit harder. The transitions between the various, genre-blending sections lacked fluidity at times. The onslaught of ugly, queasy noise was accompanied by an agonising, moaning vocal soaked in reverb. While an intriguing idea, they unfortunately contrasted and weakened the impact of the raw, chaotic music.
In an interesting change of pace, Foxes followed with an equally energetic, musically eclectic set. Foxes were essentially an amalgamation of post-hardcore and post-rock and noise executed in the emotive, poetic styling of bands like La Dispute, Pianos Become the Teeth and Touche Amore. The songs moved with schizophrenic structures, some songs were intense and engaging taking you on their twists and turns fluidly. A prime example of this was the song Stomp the Earthworm, which was simplistic, driving, and well paced with smooth transitions and intense dynamic performances. However, some other songs felt cluttered and cumbersome, dragging you along their length run times.
The Adelaide 6 piece Space Bong introduced their set with a twisted bit-crushed ambient soundscape. The soundscape simmered mysterious until the band came crashing in with crushing and spacious Doom Metal. The band writhed in sync with their very tight, spindly guitar riffs that built up slowly and unexpectedly. The songs lumbering intensely behind the band’s two vocalists that provided an intriguing element of harmonising screams as one vocalist bellowed deep death growls and the other screeching gravelly sandpaper squeals. While the set was unique and consistent, the sheer repetition faltered the momentum of the set near it’s end. For the most part, Space Bong were driving, punishing and impressively tight.
After Space Bong’s relentless Sludge Metal onslaught, the ominous Neurosis influenced goliaths Drowning Horse shrouded the intimate Fremantle Bar with an apocalyptic atmosphere. Their set was essentially as much of their new immense release ‘Sheltering Sky’ they could cram in. The stuttering, unpredictable ‘The Barrow Stones’ crept slowly with a patient drum groove behind colourful walls of thick guitar distortion, which unexpected burst into a fantastic Chorus with some incredible growls and powerful rhythmic accents. The anxious ‘Echoes’ showcased some ambitious ambient processed vocals behind a tense repetitive guitar riff that again, patiently simmering it’s anxious atmosphere breaking into a deep rumbling and primal noise section.
If there is one consistent element that kept the audience engaged throughout, it was the patient, intelligently crafted material and the theatricality of the band’s execution of their material. Powerful and uncompromising, Drowning Horse’s performance was fantastic simply because they were a unified force. Each member was essential to the creation of the overall experience, and to the sheer size of the music.