Old Blue Last, Shoreditch | January 4th
Screamo’s not dead! So the solid evidence would suggest anyway: Massachusetts band Ampere have pipped ten years peddling their socially-aware emo violence (not to mention the fact that their 2011 release Like Shadows was a bona-fide genre classic); for better or for worse The Saddest Landscape have a new record out; Italian scene titans La Quiete are playing shows again; and their peers Raein have reformed after seven dormant years, internationally touring an album which solidly develops their signature sound, successfully arching into mellower climes. Who would have thunk it? Once Battle of Wolf 359 get their act together, we’ll be right back on track.
This sold out show at the Old Blue Last is a salient indication of the genre’s lasting appeal. God knows what’s in the water around the Italian city of Forli, but Raein and aforementioned fellow sons La Quiete have this sad vein of hyper-melodic, clattering punk completely tied down (it’s no surprise that they share a drummer). Think intricate, trebly minor-key guitars, speedy snare-accentuated drumming, and a mix of shout-spoken and shrieked vocals. It’s cathartic, evocative stuff.
Latent logistical issues means just missing Goodtime Boys’ Victory-Records-circa-2004-indebted emoting (largely derivative on record, but in the name of diplomacy let’s assume they were energetic live, and given their recent signing to Bridge 9 – aka the new Victory Records – they’re inevitably mainstream darlings to be) but we arrive in time for Crash of Rhinos, a band we’ve been sitting on for months. This was, as quickly becomes apparent, a foolish move on our part. Further confirming the rose-tinted retro tone of the evening, their segueing between earnestly-lilting twinkles and crashing volume pretty much substantiates the worthy “new Spy Vs Spy” accolades they’ve been receiving. Which, clearly, is great news for anyone with a passing interest in music.
Great expectation weighs upon the skinny shoulders of Raein. Admittedly, material from their new record Sulla linea dell’orizzonte fra questa mia vita e quella di tutti gli altri – which roughly translates as ‘On the horizon line between this life and that of all others’, as if one needed more proof that the genre sentiments are still firmly in place – feels a little more reserved than the tracks played from their older releases. It’s slower, more driving and certainly more melodic, though no less crushing in its best moments (which, really, encompasses everything aside from the incongruously jaunty Oggi ho deciso di diventare oro). Still, it’s when the band embrace a bit of histrionic chaos and kick out the skramz proper – particularly Il N’y A Pas De Orchestre highlights Tigersuit and The King Is Dead – that the set really picks up, climaxing in a rickety mess of bodies and the satisfying realization that Raein have barely dropped an iota of relevance from their inception nearly a decade ago, and proof enough that the largely cynical spate of ‘classic’ band reformations has a few true exceptions.
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Words: Tom Howells