Photography: Lucie Rose

Russian Circles

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  • Samothrace
  • The Bendal Interlude
Bam!Bam!Bam! @ Constellations

A slight confession: this reviewer was late to arrive tonight. But it doesn’t matter if you turn up 10 minutes into THE BENDAL INTERLUDE’s set, because you can hear in the street. You can hear it in the next street, too. You could probably hear it in the Anglican Cathedral as well – drums, bass, and something else, something louder and lower that can’t quite be explained… is this what the pealing of bells sounds like in the inferno?

Definitely at the doomier end of tonight’s post-rock spectrum, The Bendal Interlude don’t bother with pleasantries, instead dispatching repeat slabs of brutality (ideally spelled like we’re posting on an internet forum c.2003 i.e. br00tality) and that’s definitely what this crowd want. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that metal sounds fantastic in a warehouse, even when it’s still practically daylight in Constellations’ back room. They don’t reveal much in the way of song titles, but they’re local boys with loads on YouTube and Bandcamp. Well worth checking out.

Kicking off with the kind of pulverising noise you’d get if Cammell Laird made a slinky, Seattle’s SAMOTHRACE’s continuous sludge – a kind of moat – isn’t just metal. There are shades of Tangerine Dream and even Spiritualized (!) at times, and it’s easy to imagine them playing Liverpool Psych Fest. It’s hard to reconcile softly spoken guitarist Bryan Spinks’ offer to play “…a little blues for you” with the guttural hissing he makes mid-set. They’re masters of delayed gratification, playing in two 15-minute blocks and finishing with Awkward Hearts from first album Life’s Trade.

Authors of 2013’s Memorial, widely acclaimed as one of the albums of that year (and not just by the metal community), RUSSIAN CIRCLES are barely seen until 20 minutes into their hour-long set, shrouded as they are in clouds of thick yellow smoke. Fire and brimstone notwithstanding, their sound is more traditionally post-rock than that of their supports: that’s not to say it isn’t heavy, being music that really makes you feel something inside, even if it’s just your quaking viscera. Within the confines of their large-scale instrumentals for downtuned instruments, there’s a lot of diversity. Nobody’s surprised when Atackla’s sweet, almost Sigur Rós-y introduction plummets into Laibach territory, but it’s still heavy as. Constellations is dark by now, but highlights include 1777, with its stark, percussive opening lurching out of the darkness, and Ethel’s math-rock guitar lines, eliciting a roar of approval as it grinds into life. Grind is the word: for two years, Russian Circles have been touring songs that sound like the unoiled gears of plate tectonics that drive continents off-course and throw up mountains in their battery. A new album is overdue.

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