There is something cinematic about walking in to a room and seeing a band take the stage almost as if they were waiting for you. In a soulless room, Touché Amoré are taking the stage to play …To the Beat of a Dead Horse in full to celebrate a decade since the seminal debut was released. As lights fill the stage and instruments howl and stack into intricate walls of noise, it is Jeremy Bolm’s vocals that draw the audience in.
This debut release is uncompromisingly heavy and replaces the subtlety of more recent releases with an outpouring of the rawest emotion. These emotions spill between guttural howls and crushing guitars. TA may have evolved into one of post-hardcore’s heavyweights but in this early work they certainly fall more into the hardcore side of this. The emotion, the building instrumentation and the prowling JB create a frenzy in the audience and somehow despite the intensity of the vocals …To The Beat Of A Dead Horse has the audience singing every word with the band. This is a huge positive as the intensity of the vocals leaves Bolm hoarse between songs. With a sense of urgency and a relentless pace this album is played back to front within what feels like the blink of an eye.
With three more albums to select from, what follows are some of the greatest hits. With these on top of a spectacular album played in full, TA have won over the Bristol crowd to the point heat can be seen rising and shimmering under the lights. With such a clear understanding of emotion and such a creative musical style, it is not hard to see why this is a band that mean so much to the people in this room. As the final notes ring out from yet another entire room sing along there is a moment where the band and the audience look at each other with pure admiration.
Once the audience has a minute to collect their thoughts, Deafheaven explode on to the stage with a deadly combination of sludgy riffs and vocals that fly between shrill and guttural howls all delivered at 1000mph intensity. Then, midway through one of the many full rotation head bangs from the vocalist, the entire sound changes, the drums continue to be hit with absolute power but the guitars and bass develop complexity and create a musical break down with all the accomplishment of three separate solos. Whilst the complexity of the musicianship restricts the movement on stage the singer continues to draw the eye whilst wind milling and dancing with the mic stand.
The element of theatre at the front of the stage sees each section start with an almost formulaic lean into the audience with the mic stand followed by a slow fist grab and an explosion of ferocious noise from all four corners of the stage. With every moment of this set comparisons to the previous set present themselves. There is definitely a sense of amusement in the audience as Deafheaven finish their second song in the same amount of time Touché Amoré played a full album, but this is a line-up that shows the diversity of heavy music. This diversity does not stop the entire room from enjoying both the condensed and long format versions of emotive hardcore.
As Deafheaven continue through their set there are moments of brutality, ridiculous musicianship and a knack to somehow fit musical parts that have no place being combined. With every one of these musical combinations is a vocal that perfectly holds the whole jigsaw together, but whist fascinating for a few songs there is something about this set that starts to fizzle out. There are of course a few huge moments within this set-list which really inspire the audience, but on the whole some of these songs are just too long. After all, who has the pit stamina for a fifteen minute song?
As the room clears, the theatre of Deafheaven is clearly enough to take the focus away from the Monday blues and to encourage an audience to leave a venue ready for the week ahead. More importantly Touché Amoré gave every member of this audience a moment of cathartic escape, eitherway this week has started well.