Getintothis marched David Hall along to the Baltic Triangle to be pounded into submission by the Illinois post-metal titans.
First up, with some brutal and distinctive stoner metal topped by shrieked black metal-style vocals, local lads The Bendal Interlude. Fresh from a nationwide tour with CONAN and playing material from their debut Reign of the Unblinking Eye, The Bendal Interlude sounded like Sabbath‘s most addictive riffs all compressed into a hatful of songs. With sunlight still streaming in through Constellations‘ roof, GIT and our fellow early arrivees were enthused, but in a later slot you get the feeling they would really have destroyed the place rather than getting heads gently banging.
Seattle doom metal merchants Samothrace followed, and played it loud and well, doomy. Although their sound was incredibly heavy and dense at its peaks, it could’ve done with a sizable injection of groove a lot of the time. We get that you can’t have the loud bits without the quiet bits, but the crowd struggled to latch onto much of Samothrace‘s set.
The drum kit was replaced, a crisp-looking set of amps revealed and it became clear if it wasn’t already that Russian Circles playing Constellations was a very big deal indeed. The stage barely – or rather shrewdly – lit with strips of lighting on floor level, signalled the Chicagoan three piece’s entrance, looming ominously onstage in heavily backlit twilight. Without even a microphone to say hello, goodbye or thank you to the audience, the band then proceeded to lay waste to an ill-prepared Constellations.
Rather than the vast, distorted bluntness that Samothrace employed, Russian Circles‘ sound was clean and concussive, powerful and irresistible like a tidal bore. Fans of Pelican‘s monstrous, teeth bearing palm-muted passages found much to love in Russian Circles‘ pummelling swell of noise.
Guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Brian Cook both also manned a panoply of pedals, sampling and looping their respective parts to construct a densely layered network of sound. Drummer Dave Turncrantz barely even cut a silhouette most of the time as he dispatched his unconventional fills and the powerful, thunderous rhythm to Harper Lewis.
If it was powerful that the audience were after – and that seemed to be very much the case – then they could look no further than the uncompromising highlight of set closer Youngblood. A contorting finger-tapped intro pulverised by a snarling, galloping beast of a riff which rocked the Baltic Triangle to its very core.
A look about the crowd revealed audience members everywhere enjoying personal moments of euphoria, eyes closed nodding their heads blissfully, dancing to Russian Circles‘ mammoth groove, or air-drumming unashamedly. Quite why they chose our modest little warehouse on the outskirts of our fair city to deploy such a racket we still don’t quite understand, but we’re mighty glad that they did.
Nostrovia, Russian Circles. Nostrovia.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Brian Sayle