Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Fully 48 hours after the final notes of ‘Tell Me’ crushingly reverberate about Bristol’s Rough Trade my ears are still ringing! There’s not so much quiet in the hours that follow but a complete lack of sound; nothing seems to be able to fill the void quite like Saturday night.
Tucked a short walk off Bristol’s Magpie Park, on the vibrant Bridewell Street, Rough Trade is an absolute gem. A mecca for the musically inclined. Whomever had the idea to combine a record store with a venue is a certifiable genius; however, this isn’t where the goodness ends. For, acting as a sort of ‘bridging’ element in this heady concoction is the Beavertown bar. The perfect hat-trick in my book.
This evening is a special one without compare. Local rabble-rousers Mother Vulture are back in their home roost to celebrate the release, just a week previous, of their much-lauded debut album ‘Mother Knows Best.’ A totally broiling chemical potion with caesium super-reactivity aplenty; a highly combustive offering that should be vacuum stored.
Not this evening though as The Vulture, right off the back of incendiary shows in Exeter and Truro, have opened the lid and heaved in the musical equivalent of water. With the steroid driven thrash of Skin Failure and the razor-sharp alt-rock Krooked Tongue it’s going to ‘go off’ for sure. Flash point is barely a hair’s breadth away.
If one eyes a spot of thrash metal dished up with a sizeable side-order of irony, then look no further than Skin Failure. Splitting time between their Bristol and Brighton bases they announce their molten presence with a wall of howling guitars, a complete sonic barrage with a Scoville measurement not just off the scale but dwelling upon a completely new one. Scoville to the power of Skin Failure. Debuting at this year’s ArcTanGent Festival the powerage has been unleashed with their recent debut ‘Radillac.’
This quintet – denizens of the darkest basement – have blown the cellar door right off its hinges. Splinters fly as ‘Sleeveless Jesus’ sets about a marauding rampage. Former Black Peaks vocalist Will Gardner holds court, outstretching both arms a silhouette of domination. The crowd are happily held captive, enslaved to the grinding gears of ‘Meat Pond.’ Middle digits raised the maelstrom gathers force and the void rifts apart, the moshing commences.
Alongside Gardner his brothers-in-campaign, the metallic components of Memory of Elephants, lay down a thundering charge in ‘Full Throttle Nothing Pt. 2.’ Nowhere is safe, nowhere remains hidden. Gardner stalks the environs of the crowd, atop a table on the side the anarchic delirium continues to rise. Iron Maiden ‘Run To The Hills’ is tortuously twisted in the obsidian depths of ‘Southern Fried Homicide’ as the dimensions buckle.
Peer into the seething crucible and the elemental demons swirl manically. Stoner, a dash of deathly 12 bar, a lashing of prog and a healthy dollop of punk ethos violently seethe. The underworld’s fermentation has spawned a brand-new demonic force. Cacophonic entities take an ethereal path with ‘Giv’r By The River.’ As the storm clouds disperse, we are left to ponder upon that magmatic flow which has been brought forth from the abyss that Skin Failure dwell within.
Particle collides, momentum and energy exchanged between, Brownian motion velocity continues to increase. The viscosity of the lava flow maintains a decreasing trajectory. Slipping on to the Rough Trade stage Hi-energy Bristolian trio Krooked Tongue take the evening off on a tangent very much of their own furrowing.
Kicking off with their summer single ‘When The Beaches Bleed,’ a sonic, searing astral homage to the next level of big wave surfing. The viscous cosmic groove doesn’t fear failure and encourages a following in its footsteps. Lead singer and bassist Oli Rainsford eagerly greets the packed Rough Trade “Good evening Bristol, how the fuck are you doing?”
Alloying a credence of the likes of The Jam, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Muse ‘I Know A Place’ tears the place apart with the packed venue loudly announcing their approval. A total contrast to what went before but an equivalent kinetic surges.
Latest single the melancholic ‘Lupines’ broodingly slots in amongst the four tracks of this year’s debut EP ‘No Vacancy Hotel.’ From the delicious, understated maelstrom of the title track lifted from the aforementioned EP via the slithering, scuttling charms of the frenetic ‘Swarm’ this Bristolian trio impress the RT crowd throughout.
With a thundering, steamrollering bass ‘Freaky Love’ prowls and stalks, “The power turns me on” sings Oli whilst guitarist Dan Smith whittles notes with laser precision from his fret and, behind them, drummer Harry Pritchard, with a rock-crushing strength, punches holes in the wall, through to the record store next door.
Ever wondered what a psychedelic Muse would sound like? Then the set-closing vital essence feeding fuzz of ‘Vampyre’ comes the closest yet to providing that answer. With their shimmering vibrancy mark Krooked Tongue as one to watch in ’23.
Attainment, flash point is actualized. As the ‘water’ strikes the ‘caesium’ so Mother Vulture explode onto the darkened stage. Their intro tape warns that the UK is under attack and shelter should be sought immediately. It’s down to the righteous power of rock n’ roll to save humankind; “Please save us Mother Vulture!” Well Flash had the luxury of fourteen hours the Vulture has but one hour.
With volcanic forces the quartet erupt forth; we’re propelled down the ‘Rabbit Hole’ at terminal velocity. For the next 60 minutes the accelerator is floored, and the dancefloor is a seething mass of good-natured moshing with a slice of crowd-surfing thrown into the mix for good measure. A human demonstration of Brownian motion; the wake’s dynamism runs at extraordinary levels and, in full flight, metamorphoses into a ‘kettle.’ The heavy groove monster is in town!
Tumbling, cascading drums delivered forcibly by Matt West herald 2018 single ‘Habits Die Hard’; the rabid punk-fuelled rawness is electrifying. The thrashing rock n’ roll soundbites distributed from Brodie Maguire’s Gretsch hook like Motorhead on industrial strength acid. The momentum is building, soon this filthy musical boulder will be upon an unstoppable trajectory.
Out front enigmatic vocalist Georgi Valentine is a banshee-like presence roaring and howling with Richter shattering forces. He greets their collective adoptive home city crowd “Bristol how you doing? There’s plenty more where that come from!” he proudly exclaims.
Brodie despatches a twisted, contorted Chuck Berry riff as bassist Chris Simpson, grinning widely, manically bounces along with the crowd as ‘Big Bad’ takes Sabbath and rotates the dial beyond the mythical eleven. Untamed, feral 2021 non-album single ‘The Wave’ gallops at full pace with touches of Maiden and Priest with an overriding Vulture application. The wheel hasn’t just been reshaped but entirely repurposed. We’re at the forefront of the very next coming.
Wildman on the bass Chris steps up “What the fuck is going on Bristol? You fucking sold it out!” Clearly this has had quite the profound effect upon these four unassuming chaps. You get the sense that they have seen the reaction to their debut release but don’t quite believe it; seriously guys believe. It’s firmly ensconced in my personal top 5 favourites of 2022.
The Rough Trade crowd counter the intense earworm that is ‘Honey’ with an almighty mosh pit. The band reciprocate by cranking up further with the howling qualities of ‘Homemaker.’ There’s symbiosis herein. The first track MV ever released the sonic punk-blues of ‘Joker’s Smile’ is brought into the fold and deservedly garners a massive approbatory roar.
The attention returns to the album, by the time faces have been melted by the rock n’ roll fury of ‘Mr. Jones,’ and a sizeable percentage of the crowd joins the band up on stage, we’ve been treated to ‘Mother Knows Best’ in its glorious, technicolour, kaleidoscope entirety. The manic entanglement of ‘Put Me Down’ rolls headlong into the tubthumping anthemic strains of ‘Fame or Shame,’ via a teasing ‘Hey, ho let’s go’ Ramones moment. In a Doors-fuelled moment Chris hurtles into the crowd whilst Brodie plots. Georgi punches the air in delight, the fury is tangible “You look beautiful tonight” he emotes.
Hands wave side to side for the destructive energies of the most recent single ‘Monster Crunch,’ “All that glitters isn’t gold” roars Georgi as the crowd salivate in enthrallment. The mosh pit is let loose, the coiled cobra strikes venomously.
Up on the bass cabs Brodie hangs out over the crowd as ‘Vile Breed’ feasts upon Mother Earth. Scowling with a gnarled, darkened undercurrent Brodie breaks free from the stage confines, with the assistance of crowd and pipework, to walk atop the heads. The angst ridden ‘Not Yet’ exorcises the demons with a psychotic brooding profoundness.
The industrial output of ‘Shifting Sands’ discharges a devilish blare. At the prompt of Georgi people take to the shoulders of obliging friends and fellow crowd members, the mayhem is lifted to yet loftier levels before the place quite literally explodes, with the band getting in on the crowd-surfing during the unbridled conniption of set closer ‘Tell Me.’
2023 beckons loudly for Mother Vulture. Following years of hard slog and effort 2022 has seen a breakout. Festival slots across a variety of festivals from Steelhouse to ArcTanGent via Bloodstock have cemented their place as an unconforming, exciting high-kinetic live act. Miss them at your peril.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM