Live review: Grendel, Nightmare Frequency, The Invalid & Pull Rank @ Ivory Blacks, 11/05/19
Image Credit: Camila Lima
Following a sold-out show in London, Grendel made a rare appearance at Glasgow’s Ivory Blacks to headline another brilliant line-up brought to us by Flag Promotions. With three exciting Scottish acts in the picture it was guaranteed to be an epic night in more ways than one, and suffice to say we were ready for it!
First on was Glasgow’s own Pull Rank, a one-man project who also happens to be the evil twin of one Richard Fairgrieve. From opening number ‘Last Ditch’ to ‘Conscience’, his brand of experimental industrial noise had a hypnotic effect on the room that was enhanced by a visual backdrop. At times he understandably came across as a bit nervous during instrumental sections, but that didn’t prevent him from having an enigmatic stage presence all the same – appearing as a hooded figure in a mask, Pull Rank is most in his element when he’s unleashing rage-filled guttural screams that have a strangely satisfying and sinister tone about them. It’s always a pleasure getting to witness him come increasingly into his own, and this was no exception.
Image Credit: Jordan R.A. Mills
Next up were The Invalid, the musical outfit of Edinburgh-based Seamus Bradd (who, of course, featured on Grendel’s last album) with Harry Hobson on drums and Surgyn’s Ollie Langmead on keys. To be honest I wasn’t heavy sold on the vocals, but the music more than made up for it thanks to a high energy set of hard-hitting electro-industrial songs like ‘Breaksequence’. Seamus’s antics were enough to put a smile on our faces too – whether it was shouting “I wanna fucking see all you goths in the back!” or jumping into the crowd to thrash about, he truly outdid himself to the point of physical exertion as Harry and Ollie carried on headbanging throughout. After a five year absence, they were over the moon to be back and it really showed.
Image Credit: John Bell
Then the time came for Nightmare Frequency. This Edinburgh trio have a bit of a reputation that precedes them, and for good reason - from the moment vocalist Deano Cook climbed down into a marked out space on the floor in front of the stage and tore off his shirt to reveal more body paint, their entire set was nothing but intense theatricality. Everything from the way Deano stood directly in front of a blinding strobe light to the way you could see the whites of his eyes and still hear his growls without a mic made it feel like a tribal gathering for a war ritual. As he seethed about corruption and hatred during tracks like ‘Politick’, Shian Blackwood’s synths/backing vocals and Damien Quinn’s drumming kept the tension going all the way through until they finally exited with a simple, calm and collected “Cheers”. Somehow I’d always failed to catch them live before that point, but after a display like that I sure as hell won’t be missing them in the future.
Image Credit: John Bell
Cue Grendel. Wearing leather gloves and a serious facial expression that let us know he meant business, frontman JD Tucker at last made his entrance alongside musicians Matt Hart, Kekko Biogora and Adam Milner. It’s always interesting to see how electronic music translates with a live band given how it tends to differ from the recorded material, but they won us over with a solid performance anyway. Playing a handful of songs from The Age of the Disposable Body including ‘Severed Nations’ and ‘Dead Inside’, all four commanded the stage in style, provoking hilarious outbursts from members of the audience like “Hell yeah broer!” in the process. While typically known for their aggrotech/harsh EBM output, Grendel’s switch to clean vocals and an industrial rock sound was a welcome evolution as well; that said, the fact that they still indulged us with some old-school classics such as ‘Timewave Zero’ made Ivory Blacks the place to be for rivetheads, and it felt amazing getting to chant along to ‘Soilbleed v3’ and watch as the crowd turned into a mosh pit during ‘Hate This’. Even the guys from The Invalid and Nightmare Frequency were bouncing up and down too as they wrapped up their set with ‘Harsh Generation’, and that just about summed up how incredibly supportive the atmosphere was.
Ultimately, it was a night that lived up to expectations and a real reminder of why this scene is such an awesome community to be part of. Not only we were treated to local acts that each had something very different to offer and an internationally recognised electro-industrial name, but we even got to share a dancefloor with them all for the afterparty. One of my friends described it as the best £10 she’d ever spent, and I've gotta agree!
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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