Thrash Hits

January 31st, 2013

Live & Photos: Cult of Luna, Amenra + Humanfly @ Highbury Garage – 22 January 2013

Cult Of Luna promo shot 2013 Thrash Hits

Cult of Luna don’t play live very often. Seeing as they’ve just released what will surely be one of the albums of 2013 (yes, we know it’s only January) the Thrash Hits team was out in force to see them play live. Most of us were in London, but Gary Wolstenholme took some photos for us up in Sheffield, so there are pics of Her Name Is Calla rather than Amenra. FYI.

Six things we discovered when Cult Of Luna played a gig in London

1) Humanfly are almost, almost the kind of band you want to urge people to get to a gig early to see. Almost. Their particular recipe for unwieldy, progified rock doesn’t quite have the dynamism to pull off what they’re aiming for though: the peaks they keep building towards are simply too close in tone, volume and emotion to their baseline status in all three to effect enough impact.

2) Amenra don’t so much deal in emotional dynamics either, instead opting for a binary approach of searing, skin-wringingly intense pressure interspaced with the odd moment of near-silence. It’s a long set for a support band and Amenra make sure that everyone feels every all-or-nothing minute of it.

Her Name Is Calla @ Sheffield Corporation - 20 January 2013 c/o Gary Wolstenholme

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3) Sure, their performance might not stray too much from this blueprint – and boy, after an hour long set of it, does the audience know it – but the endurance of this barrage of uncompromising sound is part of its appeal. The band might stand aloof from the audience (frontman Colin H. Van Eeckhout in particular barely acknowledges them, turning his tattooed back to them and instead relying on his lithe-hypertension to provide Amenra with a physical focal point), but after their set ends, this bunch of Belgians have bound the audience to them through a shared sense of survival.

4) For a 15-year-old band that has released six albums and is so revered, it’s curious that Cult of Luna are still playing a 650-capacity venue in London. It’s possible that they’ll go up a level – maybe to the Electric Ballroom, perhaps – on their next tour (if there is a next tour, of course) but the abrasiveness of their post-metal has given the Swedes something of a glass ceiling there. It’s nice for us to be able to get pretty up close and personal with them though.

Cult Of Luna Vertikal album cover artwork packshot Thrash HitsReview: Cult of Luna – Vertikal

5) It’s curious how CoL keep crowd interaction to zero. There is nothing. It would be the most awkward of dates. It’s curious that they choose to retain this mystique because there is no real pretension around this band. The band set up their equipment themselves and clearly care very, very deeply about how their music sounds and how the band looks onstage. It makes appreciating the forced distance they keep that bit easier.

6) Seven of the nine songs on Vertikal were found in the ten-song set tonight and they all sound magnificent. The dubstep mid-section of ‘Vicarious Redemption’ sounded as strangely normal live as it does on record. The three non-Vertikal songs are ‘Finland’, ‘Owlwood’ and ‘Ghost Trail’ and they sound superb – the crowd banging their heads with fury and catharsis – but new song, ‘In Awe Of’ is the star tonight. The ten-minute stunner has pulsing urgency and encapsulates everything this band is about. It’s fitting that the close the show with it, as it really ought to be the item from tonight’s menu that everyone takes home freshest in their minds. With such crushing songs in their arsenal you just pray that Cult of Luna are going to return soon.