Sunday, 31 March 2019
Enemy of Pigs launch night.
S.T.A.B. Electronics, Iron Fist of the Sun, Antivalium, Active Denial. The Castle, London, Saturday 31st March.
I went to this gig alone, upon 10 minutes of my arrival I’d met Phil from W.I.P., Lee from Iron Fist of the Sun, Keith from S.T.A.B. both guys from Active Denial and Winston from Shift/Unrest. It was great to meet the faces behind the projects that I love. The occasion was S.T.A.B.s first live gig in 3 years to celebrate the release of Enemy of Pigs on Unrest Productions, I’m playing it now on my turntable.
I’ve reviewed both Active Denial tapes in the past and I was keen to see them in a live context. I believe they haven’t played a lot of live gigs prior to this. The set up was simple vocals, keyboard and four Walkman portable players that all into a mixer. Adam Apple screamed and shouted into the mic, got right into people’s faces throughout their set. Sometimes both Apple and Bucorvus Leadbeater did vocals together, the noises were primitive like those used on their recordings. For a moment I felt it waned briefly, but sudden a strobe pointed at the audience and a resurgence of rage pushed things up another few notches. I thought this was a great performance that set the bar high for the evening, the rage seemed endless: The Summer of Hate was back with a vengeance.
Antivalium came dressed in suits and masks, their stage presence and image were strong. Their brand of synth dominated industrial noise with beats was good and it shifted a lot in sound. At times it was hard not to dance when they became more animated as beats took prominence. There was an air of deep broodiness throughout an impressive set that really stood out - the excellent taste in vintage microphones certainly helped this. Their sound and intensity were different to the other acts and stood out most as the odd act out, still great and this seemed to allow the differences between all acts to shine through. When researching after, I found out they were both in KnifeLadder with the late John Murphy as well as Black Light Ascension which is impressive, but Antivalium stands as a strong project, this was demonstrated by their performance - I look forward to investigating their work more.
The gig did have an air of sadness as it was to be the last performance from Iron Fist of the Sun. I love this project as I reviewed a lot of his work over the years and have most of the releases. This is a top tier project of present day that I know can deliver live and on record. As he began it was crisp, concise and everything was delivered with precision. He shouted with his back to the audience at the rear wall of the venue or sideways to the audience and it was effective as he became angrier and the sounds intensified massively. The way the vocals weren’t as in the faces of the audience as the other acts seemed to allow for it to really project outwards at the audience. The sound and set up he had was complex and wouldn’t have worked so well in less competent hands, he then flicked a switch and the familiar, powerful death drones of Smile Like Sword kicked in to cheers and shouts. The vocals were great, he shouted and screamed and had some effect that doubled the vocals up when it was used – amazing wasn’t enough to describe it. His set became choppy, chaotic and noisier at the after Smile Like Sword and made for an effective contrast that died out to an end to be greeted by huge applause and enthusiasm from the audience. I’d only ever seen IFotS live once this was even better than that. To end on such a high with a consistently solid, evolving body of work is noble. However, my personal view is the integrity of the project would have kept it great for a long time to come, but greatness is as greatness does.
The night seemed like a series of championship fights and S.T.A.B. continued to up the levels of intensity with a savage, manic performance. He was continually right in our faces shouting, the mic seemed to die out at one point, and I am not shitting you, it made no difference to the vocal levels at all, he continued to yell over the electronics until the mic worked again - vocally S.T.A.B. continues to be next level. His personal, nasty take on Death Industrial was complimented by videos of violent gang fights and sadomasochistic penis abuse. The images of a guy continually being ball punched by a Dominatrix made me hold my balls in protective fear whilst S.T.A.B. seemed to continually grab his balls hard to raise the pitch of his vocals. The set was mostly newer material as I am recognising a lot of it as I play my copy of the excellent Enemy of Pigs; there was a lot of really, muddy, murky noise that was dominated by the louder than loud vocals, the level of performance used to work the vocals from the background to the forefront repeatedly was something else. Height wise he was huge, which amplified his stage presence, he was all over the stage in the audience’s faces, yelling and gesturing; the intensity and menace never let up for a minute. I’ve been listening to the S.T.A.B. cds I have a lot over the last 6 months since discovering the project, this live performance was even better than I imagined it would be and the new album ups the ante.
Four solid performances made for an excellent night.
Choppy Noodles 2019