"The fact that the pre-lingual nature of this experience is reflected by the band's instrumental approach is a conceptual masterstroke."
Local two-piece The Sea Shall Not Have Them are consistently a treat live and tonight is no exception. They take their time weaving a gentle ambience to pull the audience into a world of lush post-rock. Once within, peaks and valleys slowly form and it's a wonder what a vast aural blanket they can weave with such a minimal ensemble. Their sound is continually fleshed out by guitarist Curt Emerton adding textures of electronics throughout and drummer Mat Wilton rarely keeping shy of the whole kit. It's a near-faultless set and a perfect intro to this event.
Things really shift focus with Danyl Jesu & Pale Earth who explore a dark and deranged set of corridors. The somewhat experimental melange of industrial, no wave and noise that they belt out is not always the most cohesive, but it's certainly engaging. With Pale Earth slogging away behind him, Jesu takes a confronting and provocative stance against the crowd, delivering his vocals from the floor for the entire duration of the set. He draws in one participant to hold up a giant chain in some kind of ritualistic manner, which plays out as more of a non-event than anything, leaving onlookers a little perplexed as to the intention of the whole thing. Their live sound is not always the most musically captivating, but through the performance they have their moments and when they do they leave a curious impression.
It seems like a decent crowd has flooded into Woolly Mammoth by the time Japan's premier post-rock heroes Mono take the stage. However, once opener Recoil, Ignite breaks into its full fledged assault it rather seems like a minor injustice is taking place. More people really should be seeing this show! Each of the four members seem all too aware of the role they play and contribute an essential dynamic to the mix. Bassist Tamaki Kunishi's performative passion is enchanting in almost every moment. And although guitarists Takaakira Goto and Hideki Suematsu both play seated, their performances still manage to be quite enthralling at times. No matter how many times one sees Mono perform, there is no preparing for the grandeur of their sound. The sheer majesty and intensity of these songs communicates the overwhelming nature of lived experience to its extremes, and in the live setting this is communicated all the more profoundly. Death in Reverse connects with this notion at its core — the transition from womb to world that is the birth process is likely one of the two most overwhelming human experiences imaginable, and the fact that the pre-lingual nature of this experience is reflected by the band's instrumental approach is a conceptual masterstroke.
From one end to the other their set is a rollercoaster ride of emotion that transverses extremities. A moment's relent from polaric intensity is had through the nestling calmness of Kanata, but they are swift to return to their characteristic pattern with the epic followers Pure As Snow (Trails Of The Winter Storm), Where We Begin and Halcyon (Beautiful Days) — the climax of the latter bringing the two guitarists to their feet for the sole moment of the set. One last taste of the familiar is had via Ashes In The Snow before the manic finale of new song Requiem From Hell sees them reach their most sinister state of the set — what a wall of sound they conjure and what a fitting way to end the night it is. Yet another one hit far out of the park by Mono.
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