Jun 21, 2012
LIVE REVIEW: WHITEHORSE @ The Brass Mug 20th June 2012 ...
It started off slow, but the rain soon gathered strength as the clouds above darkened. Amplifying the all ready sickening humidity was the heat newly risen from the concrete, and what little breeze managed to slip through the thick vapor in the air brought minimal comfort. It would be another three or so hours before my friend Ben and I would make our way to the Brass Mug in Tampa, Florida to catch Whitehorse, but the city decided to go ahead and set the stage for the doom that lurked on the wilting horizon.
We arrived in time to catch the last few minutes of local doom trio and opening band, Servants of the Mist, who played a very traditional or classic style of doom. I imagine fans of Saint Vitus and Pentagram might enjoy them. The song I caught, while really heavy, was a tad repetitious but nevertheless solid. Up next was a band called Collapse out of Pinellas, Florida. I came in not knowing a single thing about this band and left completely blown away with their set. Collapse play post-metal-inspired crust lush with atmosphere and melody, creating this vibrant sonic wave that is rife with melancholy. There would be moments when Nate, the guitarist/vocalist, would step away from the microphone while he lamented on his guitar and screamed the lyrics openly into the air, a gesture that emphasized the genuine emotion being conveyed through the music. Similarly, Rachael and Anna (guitarist/vocalist and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist, respectively) would trade-off vocal duties that were intense and yet vulnerable, not unlike the music itself. Needless to say, I came out of that show a fan, and I truly look forward to hearing whatever they put out next.
Following Collapse came another local outfit, thrashers Riptorn. I’m fairly picky when it comes to thrash, as it’s not something I particularly dig; such is the case with Riptorn. Their sound was more so inspired by old-school 80s thrash as opposed to acts like Revocation or The Absence, right down to the raspy, Jackal-like growling of the vocals. While I didn’t care for the music, I have to say that the band was clearly having a lot of fun on stage and that energy translated really well into their performance. And then came time for the band I came out to see that evening: Australia’s own, Whitehorse.
If this review comes across as total Whitehorse worship, I wouldn’t contest it. The first time I heard “Mechanical Disintegration” off their stellar 2011 record, Progression, I was hooked. I found myself getting even more excited as David Coen, who handles the noise and electronics for Whitehorse, began his soundcheck, blasting through the amplifiers this wretched, static-filled wail; doom was at hand. I had a feeling this was going to be an experience and my intuitions were verified as soon as they began their set. Without remorse, Whitehorse unleashed their brand of oppressive doom and noise and lurching before me, inches away from the guardrail, was vocalist Peter Hyde. Amidst the colossal sonic terror was this man’s thunderous howls and vicious screams, as relentless as the band surrounding him. A couple of times in their set, Whitehorse seemed to offer the audience a false reprieve as the domineering riffs provided by Adrian Naudi fell silent and allowed David Coen, Pete McLean (bass), and Dan Mckay (drums) to attack the audience; the rhythm section pummeling away as the noise and power electronics clawed at the audience, despite there being an ambiance buried in the hiss.
A personal highlight for me was during the song “Dark Age” off their amazing split with another great doom band, Batillus. At one point during the crushing dirge in the middle of that song,Peter fixed his gaze on me as I looked up at him before grabbing me by my shirt and giving me a good shake; I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The headliner for that evening was Hot Graves out of Gainesville, Florida, although I skipped out on seeing them as a.) I’m not a fan and b.) it was almost 12:30 and I had work early next morning. Responsibilites and all that good stuff. All-in-all, I had a great time, as did my cohort Ben. Be sure to check out these bands and support them when you can. Take care.
Words: Julio Espin
Whitehorse: Whitehorse | Bandcamp
Collapse: Collapse | Bandcamp
Riptorn: Riptorn | Facebook
Servants of the Mist: Servants of the Mist