LE­PROUS

Prog - - Take A Bow - STEVE PILK­ING­TON

VENUE GORILLA, MAN­CHES­TER

DATE 22/09/2018

SUP­PORT AGENT FRESCO, 22

Be­cause the venue is turn­ing into a club night af­ter this live show has fin­ished, the 10pm cur­few means the three bands on tonight’s Scan­di­na­vian triple-bill get less stage time than they or­di­nar­ily would. nev­er­the­less, the com­pact hall is healthily full by the time the first of the bands comes on stage at 6.45pm.

The oddly named 22 get only half an hour in which to im­press with their an­gu­lar, stac­cato ap­proach, pum­melling the crowd with a vis­ceral sound from the off. at times some­what rem­i­nis­cent of Thumper­mon­key if they were ac­com­pa­nied by a truck­load of drum kits be­ing pushed off a cliff, the nor­we­gians get a rous­ing re­cep­tion from the fear­less stage-front devo­tees.

next up are agent Fresco, from ice­land. de­scrib­ing them­selves as math metal, the el­e­ments of pre­ci­sion pum­melling in their set are mit­i­gated by strong melodic con­tent cour­tesy of the al­most falsetto vo­cals of front­man arnór dan arnar­son. They fit plenty of suc­cinct tracks into their time, and arnar­son de­liv­ers some ar­rest­ing show­man­ship, mak­ing his way through the crowd to the back of the venue (ac­com­pa­nied by a lengthy corded mic no less), be­fore climb­ing onto the bar and up into the bal­cony.

when nor­we­gians le­prous come on­stage, how­ever, it’s clear who the head­lin­ers are. it isn’t of­ten that the phrase ‘the open­ing cello solo’ is used with ref­er­ence to a rock per­for­mance, but tonight is that ex­cep­tion as the band open with the slow burn of Bon­neville from lat­est al­bum Malina.

Such mo­ments of calm are rare, how­ever, as the eerily back­lit band turn ev­ery­thing you thought you knew about pro­gres­sive metal on its head in a pre­sen­ta­tion of mer­ci­less in­ten­sity.

By the time Third law twists king Crim­son’s 21st Cen­tury Schizoid Man riff in­side out and spits out the bones, you have the feel­ing that this is what 50 years of that track’s sub­ver­sion have led to. Mean­while, Mi­rage has mo­ments of such mono­lithic in­ten­sity that it seems as if your record col­lec­tion is be­ing re­flected in a dark, dis­torted fair­ground mir­ror while be­ing burnt to ashes. in a good way.

le­prous are un­stop­pable, ir­re­sistible and fear­some. with a cello.

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