AU New Blood Review...
Kasper Rosa, Eatenbybears, Event Horses, Lantern for a Gale
The second instalment of AU's New Blood series shifts the loudness levels significantly upward, creating a line-up that pits the fearsome North Coast punk scene against Belfast's more subtle, highbrow noodlings, creating a four punch knock-out of noise.
Hardcore revellers Lantern for a Gale manage to gather a surprising throng for going on so early. Compared to the likes of Kasper Rosa further up the bill, they do well to create some of the most emotionally involving passages of tonight, caustic and occasionally harrowing, but expertly performed. 'Beyond the End' demonstrates this best, its breakdowns clicking into vigorous moments that relieve all the built up despair.
The numbers dwindle prior to the entrance of Event Horses, and despite an eye-gouging redo of Blur's 'Song 2' receiving a seething North Coast branding, the Ballymoney boys don't do enough between songs to encourage more to come forward.
Technical problems do little to help, but still it's clear that material from their 'Dance With The Devil' EP is already a step up for them. In songs like 'From The Start' and the title track they've wisely sharpened that metallic groove, immediately bringing to mind Cancer Bats at their most rhythmically foul - in the best possible sense, of course.
To the untrained ear they might appear to be on the same frenzied wavelength as Lantern for a Gale, but a closer listen reveals both offering entirely different interpretations of hardcore punk. Tonight though, both back to back proves too much for the uninitiated.
It's easy to be sceptical of how quickly Eatenbybears have enchanted the Belfast scene, having never experienced their mathematical mongrel sound live, but there's more hunger evident in them than any other band tonight.
Tempos stab and are ever-changing but always danceable, whilst the use of violin semi-orchestrates everything into a mini-symphony of intricacies and haywire vocals. Several lengthier instrumentals touch on self-indulgence though, and they become so absorbed within their instruments it becomes a little distant, but the incredible reaction to a band so new, with such a challenging racket, suggests something beneath the arty exterior that's instinctively accessible.
As a result Kasper Rosa's guest spot almost feels like an afterthought, the closing credits rather than the true finale. With that in mind, the striking instrumentals they weave together act as a fittingly reflective wind down from Eatenbybears, that encompass classic and more metal-leaning guitar styles.
'Coronal Mass Ejection' is the sprawling centrepiece of it all, their most recent release and most complete representation of the journey Kasper Rosa can take you on. It's never quite matched for the remainder of the set, but it's best that the spotlight isn't stolen from the new blood on show tonight, who proved more than worthy of an official headline themselves.