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UmezDeathline
Terminal Gods
Skinny Girl Diet
Umez

Buffalo Bar, London
Friday July 20 2012

 

 

If you could make music by sticking pins randomly in a map, you'd probably end up with Umez. One minute they're a post-industrial powerrnoise outfit (complete with guitarist in a gas mask); next minute they're doing J&MC-style psychedelic punk-pop; then they'll crank up the electronix and go all heavy-duty dancefloor.

All that might sound as if Umez haven't quite decided what sort of band they want to be. Or perhaps they've decided they want to be every sort of band. Somehow, they hold it all together. Their wilful disparity works rather better than you'd expect.

Skinny Girl Diet are defiantly ramshackle and...well, just defiant, really. Three riotous grrls clank and grind through the fuzz-punk undergrowth, sharing out the vocals as they go. They also share a magnificently pissed-off demeanour, as if they've held the world up for inspection and concluded it's not much cop.

They've got 'nuff distortion and bursts of petulant chorus-shouts, and songs that sound like the Shop Assistants and Sonic Youth fighting in a bucket. None of the band crack even the hint of a smile. The bassist is wearing a T-shirt that says 'Mummy, what's a Sex Pistol?', the guitarist is toting an extravagantly shaped guitar that looks like it was stolen from Kiss, while at intervals the drummer gazes heavenwards as if in exasperation - although with what I wouldn't dare to ask. Skinny Girl Diet are stroppy, lo-fi and fine.

Skinny Girl Diet / Terminal Gods

If you believe the hype, Terminal Gods are the leather-clad love children of Iggy and Lemmy, rock 'n' roll outlaws for the new millenium, low-slung, black-clad reprobates riding the crazed rock beast to oblivion. It's doubtless just a coincidence that they sound like The Sisters Of Mercy.

The phenomenon of bands trying to reproduce the Sisters Of Mercy isn't new, of course. We've seen plenty of 'em over the years - ever since the goth scene got it into its collective head that The Sisters Of Mercy were exactly what a goth band should sound like, and any deviation from the blueprint meant you were Doing It Wrong. Terminal Gods stick pretty close to that blueprint, although their unique selling point (for the Sisters-soundalike value of unique) is that they seem to take Vision Thing as their key influence - the album upon which the Sisters cut the crap, stripped it all back, and just rocked out.

There's certainly plenty of rocking out going on here, anyway. The Gods have the swagger and the stagger and the shapes and the faces of a real rock band. Just in case we hadn't quite got the message, they spell it out for us in the Deathlinevery first song. "Rock is my business, and business is good," growls the singer from behind his shades, while the band hammer out a hefty sturm und drang.

There's a certain knowing wit at work here, I think - because, c'mon, you couldn't write a lyric like that without a certain ironic self-awareness.

Terminal Gods might be an assemblage of well-worn influences, but they deploy those influences with enough brash, gung-ho enthusiasm to make it convincing - and just enough of a raised eyebrow to get away with it.

Talking of stripping things down, as we were - here come Deathline to do just that. A guitar, a bass, a laptop, and some no-shit riffs that nod in the direction of Velvet Underground style starkness while actually keeping plenty of musical flesh on the bones.

Deathline are another representative of what I'm sure someone, sooner or later, will call 'the new wave of machine beat rock' or somesuch phrase - bands like Ulterior and Terminal Gods, unequivocally rock bands but with programming where the drummer would normally be.  It's an effective way to keep everything uncluttered and unadorned, as Deathline are demostrating now. Their crunchy-fuzzy guitar and poke-and-pump bass sketch in the light and shade and colours, while the clatter of the beat program draws the outline in big, bold strokes.

Being a duo, Deathline's stage presence is also pretty stark - two people, both with their planks strapped on, both standing at microphones. There's significantly less opportunity for rock god shape-throwing here, but Deathline have a certain implacable hauteur that serves them well. It comes down to attitude in the end, and Deathline have it. Now that's rock 'n' roll.

 

Deathline: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Terminal Gods: Website | Facebook

Skinny Girl Diet: Website | Facebook

Umez: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

Find a Deathline interview here.

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