Sunday, 3 May 2009

We Made God - Live Review

Act: We Made God

Location: Southampton, U.K
Venue: Talking Heads
Date: 26/04/09

On this sleepy April Sunday evening, these guys had come to deliver a blistering set, at a venue, which has a good reputation as a showcase for interesting alternative music. So it was an easy decision to wander down and give my earlobes a sonic workout, as opposed to the usual end of weekend feet up in front of 'Heartbeat' with a glass of sherry: Lester Bangs eat your heart out!

Platterhorn managed to negotiate a couple of hours off family duty and he was happy to also sample We Made God, with just a minor caveat, that we stopped off for a post-post rock gig kebab on the way home. During the aperitif to the main act, we were treated to three interesting support acts, varying from emo-electro rock to 'Fugazi-like' hardcore punk trio, so something for all the family to enjoy there. It's a shame the crowd was a bit sparse and the atmosphere was a bit flat, as it must be hard for these bands to get pumped up to perform, when there's minimal feedback from the audience. Playing live is an important part of the learning curve of a band and it's vital to try out what works, outside the confines of a practice studio.

The main act on the bill We Made God come all the way from Hafnafjörður in Iceland, this gig was part of a short tour of the U.K promoting their self produced debut album 'As We Sleep' which was released via Maybe Records on March 27th 2008 in their native country and October 2008 in the U.K. The youthful quartet Magnús (vocals, guitars) Arnór (guitars) Stúni (bass) and Biggi (drums) make up the numbers and have been together for about five years. Together, they create a moody desolate sound, chiseled from a sonic landscape, which billows raucous clouds of storming riffs. It's a ferocious sound, with outbursts of frenetic chainsaw riffs, cutting through the introspective passages, all anchored by Maggi's anguished guttural howling vocal style.

We Made God are exponents of experimental rock, cut from the similar cloth as their fellow Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Ros (let's get the obligatory reference point out of the way) however I was struck how much more heavy their sound was, in this live setting. It's easy to see why they have garnered positive reaction from the likes of Kerrang and Q music magazines with four star reviews. It's crunching stuff which makes the floorboards tremble and 'W M G' could sit comfortably on the bill of a Download festival for instance. Their album would nestle nicely next to the Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and Black Mountain on the hard rock rack at the record shop. Yet they have enough variation within their songs to appeal to the mainstream crowd as well as the indie kids.

The band have got a strong stage presence, at times looking like grungy Thunderbirds marionette puppets, as if they were controlled by the ghostly hand of Kurt Cobain, with imaginary strings making them bob up and down in the rocky parts unleashing a foursome frenetically freaking out. The singer looked as though he was exercising some serious demons in his singing technique to the point where he admitted he was in danger of fainting.

The strongest song Gizmo was given an airing as was Sub Rosa and the last song We Lost The Battle, We lost the War stuck out as a highlight. As the evening drew to a close, all that was left to do was for the small but appreciative crowd to head home, in our case via the local Kebab shop, with the warm sound fuzz of 'W M G' still ringing in our ears, shish kebab filling our bellies and gooey chilli sauce dripping down our shirts!

We Made God - Gizmo from the album As We Sleep directed by Óskar Bragi Stefánsson

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