Into the Pit: 147: Sulpher – Live at Underworld – 30-September 2012

The perils of gig venues wanting to run club nights as well as gigs on Friday and Saturday evenings often means that said gigs are pushed forward to start absurdly early. In smaller cities, I could understand this – but in a city like London, opening the doors for a gig at 1800 on a Friday night is only going to do one thing, which is to reduce the early turnout.

Jayce Lewis
Je$us Loves Amerika
Live @ Underworld, London NW1
28 September 2012

So it proved for Je$us Loves Amerika, who played to less of a crowd than I might have expected. There was no less effort, mind, as the band blitzed through seven songs that confirmed once and for all that the band are interested in looking forward rather than backward. How? Well, by playing only new songs for the whole set – although admittedly the closing Dogma was a reworking of an old song. That meant nothing from Advanced Burial Technology, but with the various improvements to new songs aired in recent years, this is not a problem at all.

Opening again with the blistering, Cubanate-influenced FYA, the pace barely dropped through the whole set, and it was also notable that this was a set stuffed with potential singles for the future. Breathe – a stripped down, rip-roaring industrial techno assault – is the new single, and the newly-rebuilt, pulverising beats of Exit Strategy (far heavier and snappier than it was when first aired) are surely another single-in-waiting. And that is before we even get to the Dos Dedos-era Poppies attack of Everything Is Fine, and a thunderous new track that was the heaviest track I’ve yet heard them roll out.

Just the start we needed for the evening, and the resurrection and rebuilding of the sound of JLA continues apace. FYA is already available and Breathe follows very shortly.

Je$us Loves Amerika setlist: FYA
Exit Strategy
Everything Is Fine
Dogma (feat. Ed Oxime of Concrete Lung)

Totally different were the following band, one I’ve heard of the name in the past, but never actually heard – Officers. Totally different in style to the other three bands on the bill, their sound was more of a dreamy, electronic-tinged rock that at points reminded of Sunna (one song sounded uncomfortably close to Power Struggle, actually), Marilyn Manson at his most introspective, and also bands like Jesus and Mary Chain. Needless to say, their music is hardly happy and positive, instead this is doomy, rolling rock music that is played by an exceptionally tight and talented band. I’ll interested to hear how they are on record, too, but no merch on sale at the show means that for now Spotify will have to do.

When I saw Jayce Lewis getting quite a fanfare on the billing for this gig, I have to say that my first question was “who?”. A quick check of his website and videos in advance suggested to me that for a relatively new and unknown artist, it all seemed too fully formed: not to mention a wiki page that absolutely reeks of being written by promotional people in some way. And so it proved at the show – a screaming contingent of fans down the front, slick video screens, a mass of merchandise that included signed photos as well as CDs and T-shirts, and a sound that fell somewhere in the accessible, trainer-bra industrial rock of Orgy or Linkin Park. Apparently big in the far east already, this unchallenging, anodyne take on music that really can be something special will sadly be huge, while artists that do the innovating and taking the risks will fall by the wayside, again.

Sulpher setlist:
You Ruined Everything
No One Will Ever Know
Nothing At All
Take A Long Hard Look

One Of Us

A little later than intended, Sulpher took to the stage for their second gig back in London this year, and this time there was a far better, beefier sound than at the Purple Turtle a few months back. In fact, aside from the turnout not being as big as I might have suspected, this was better in every way. A better balanced set of songs, the savage riffs finally getting the PA they needed, and the bristling fury that underpins many of their songs was unleashed in spectacular style.

This was right from the opening Disintegrate, too – a bruising juggernaut of a track that is more about the groove than any vocals, and thus works perfectly as an intro, this was a band ready to prove a point or two. This time – aided by the better sound – the new songs sounded great, No One Will Ever Know a familar anthem already, Nothing At All is back to the brooding, intense sounds of the earlier material, while Take A Long Hard Look – four minutes of hyperspeed industrial rock with an almighty low end.

Surprisingly, though, that was all for the new material this time around, the rest of the set dominated by an awful lot of the first album. Which could be seen as a bad thing, were it not for the fact that every single one of those songs is so good. The NIN-on-steroids of You Ruined Everything nearly blasted the walls out, and a stomping Problem was nearly as heavy. As per last time, though, the highlight for me was a savage Scarred that closed the main set, that extra “oomph” in the sound really adding to the immense power of the chorus kicking in.

This time, too, we got an encore, including a little bit of fan karaoke with the final Spray. Much better than last time, and with a better idea of how the new album will sound like, I’m really quite confident that the new album, when it arrives, will be as special and as enduring as the first.

One thought on “Into the Pit: 147: Sulpher – Live at Underworld – 30-September 2012

Leave a Reply