Sunday, October 19, 2008

More metal than your grandmother's hip replacement

I saw Cult of Luna play live on Thursday. I meant to write something about it, but the text kept growing and time kept shrinking, so I had to postpone it. Until now.

The opening act was Kongh. They're one of those bands that I've been meaning to check out, for quite some time now, but haven't gotten around to. I have heard a few songs from their debut, "Counting Heartbeats", and liked what I heard with the exception of the vocals. So I was expecting to nod along to some tunes and then cringe as the vocalist opened his mouth. How wrong I was.

Kongh came on to samples from the classic King Kong movie. That alone was enough to put a smile on my face. Then they proved that three people can sound like a dozen, which made the smile even wider. Kongh moves somewhere in the region between doom bands like Yob and faster, more progressive acts like Mastodon, and they do their thing really, really well. Slowly droning doom blends seamlessly with amazing drumming and intricate guitarwork, without it ever veering off to guitar solos. And the vocalist sounded a lot better live than what I remember from the CD.

Kongh gets seven beards out of ten.

The second band was Lowood. I had never heard the name before, and was expecting something along the lines of the other two bands, that is moody men in their 20s and 30s, more likely bearded than not, churning out slow, ten-minute metal tunes. Again, how wrong I was.

Lowood turned out to be two women/girls, probably in their twenties, with nothing but two microphones, a synthesizer and a guitar. While their music, which was in the singer/songwriter vein with great pop melodies and Duran Duran-ish squeals from the synthesizer, is about as far from the other bands as you can go and still be a guitar-based band, the mood they conveyed was very appropriate and fit right in with both Kongh and Cult of Luna.

Unfortunately the din from the bar almost drowned their low-key songs, which made it hard to listen properly.

For now Lowood gets five beards out of ten, but I expect that to change if I can get my hands on some of their songs.

On to the main attraction then. I've seen Cult of Luna quite a few times now, and they've managed to be both exceptional and as dull as watching paint dry. Last night was more towards exceptional, but still not anywhere near the best I've seen them. They have two main problems.

The top one is the singer (screamer, really), who manages to contribute just about nothing every time he's on stage. His voice goes after a few songs, and his stage presence is about as exciting as another microphone stand. The one time I've seen them and they have been exceptional, he wasn't there, and the guitarist, who screams on some songs anyway, did all
the screaming.

The second problem is not as big now as it used to be. A few years back they probably had some guy walking around before the show, nailing all their feet to the stage and inserting metal rods down their spines. They've been moving around more and more over the years, especially some of them, and now they did a fairly good job of pulling up those nails and breaking those rods. I expect they have fired that guy by now.

If they had peppered their playlist with stuff further back than "Somewhere Along The Highway" (they might have, but being the old geezer I am I left before they were done) I might have been more enthusiastic, but I completely understand the urge to only play newer stuff.

Cult of Luna gets six beards out of ten.

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