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Comply Or Die, Slomatics, The Burnt Reynolds - Belfast

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ATL | 15:00 UK time, Monday, 12 September 2011

Comply Or Die, Slomatics, The Burnt Reynolds
Menagerie, Belfast 
8th September 2011



‘FREE IN’ - Is there possibly a more life-affirming succession of words in the English language? Well, probably, but when it comes to the eagerly-anticipated launch of Comply of Die's second album, Depths, featuring wrath-fuelled support from The Burnt Reynolds and sludge-doom matadors, Slomatics, there can be very few excuses to stay away. The question remains: does ‘FREE IN’ necessarily equate to “worth the time and effort of trudging across the Holylands to find the Menagerie”?

Emerging before tonight’s packed house around 10pm, Larne-based punk rockers The Burnt Reynolds waste no time in trawling through a set of fervent, head-turning laments. ‘Agitator’ and ‘Murdercide’ expertly evoke the irate majesty of Troublegum-era Therapy? whilst, exposing even darker whims, ‘Hard Boiled’ calls to the mind riff-laden scourge of Helmet, whilst closer ‘Big 69’ opts for the chugging, visceral ferocity of Big Black covering Fugazi circa 13 Songs. Gutsy and scrupulously unrelenting, The Burnt Reynolds’ densely melodic, fully-abrasive songwriting slant continues to warrant the hopes placed in them for the future.

With a vague sense of oppression making the rounds, tonight’s generally cross-armed crowd edge ever closer as sludge-doom three-piece Slomatics appear to enforce their ridiculously heavy craft once more. Self-described ambassadors for “Taking 4/4 to a new level”, they open with the behemothic 'Expert Marksmen', its Sunn 0)))-esque intro descending into a crushing groove brilliantly reminiscent of Electric Wizard at their most bloodthirsty. With their surprisingly bassless, impossibly plodding doom, Slomatics border masterful on the devastating 'Hold the Skull' and closer, 'It Won’t Make You Happy', a fierce noise-fest indicative of Pink-era Boris. Sure, half of the audience appear oblivious but, honestly, that's more than half the beauty of it.

Bizarrely, though, it's at this point of the night when half the crowd seems to jump ship. Whether or not the instinctive lure of "FREE IN" has ran its course yet again, this unexpected fleeing only serves to emphasise an increasingly restless atmosphere.

On cue, however, tonight’s headliners Comply or Die inveigle those remaining with a keen promise of their rollicking, progressive punk. But in spite of 'Shanghaied' and ferocious overture ‘Vermin’ best revealing a band at the height of the collective powers, poor sound and tonight’s peculiarly standoffish crowd coalesce to instil a sense of apathy, distance and tedium contrary to Comply or Die’s intent.

That said, set closer ‘DMT’ sees a large proportion of the band’s aficionados desist from the prevailing atmosphere, letting loose throughout a track perfectly reflective of Depths more polished, ear-pricking efforts. But at the end up, the general consensus implies The Burnt Reynolds steal the show, Slomatics make their presence well and truly known, and Comply Or Die – despite all of their efforts – fail to completely resuscitate what began as a exciting, buzzing sense of occasion, only to inexplicably fall by the wayside.

Brian Coney


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