1919, Then Comes Silence and Angelbomb
Saturday 13th July 2019
Electrowerkz, Islington, London
Tucked away in a dark Victorian alley at the back of the Angel tube station in North London is an old disused warehouse that is now the home of a small venue and club called Electrowerkz. As it is the thirteenth of the month, it is more than appropriate that I have come to see a collection of bands loosely associated with the Goth genre. Sadly no pea soup fog to enhance the atmosphere, just the anticipation of some excellent Rock music to come.
The first band on the bill we miss due to the vagaries of South Eastern rail cancelling our carefully chosen train and a very enthusiastic security team. No photo ID really does mean no entry! However, we eventually dig out a driving licence and make it inside to be spirited back to my student days when “Indie Clubs” really were independent, dark and smelt of stale beer! No drinks on draft so like true students, we clutch our tins of Strongbow cider and make our way into the performance area. The venue is painted entirely black except for a large translucent wall where ghostly shadows from the venue next door occasionally revealed themselves when the lighting was at the right angle.
I said the bands were ‘loosely’ associated with the Goth scene, although it was true that everyone present was dressed entirely in black! Luckily I managed to squeeze into a pair of stretch black jeans (the waist size suggesting they are not an ancient artefact from my student days, but a pair purchased much more recently) and my black shirt to match – you can dress in any colour you like – so long as it is black!
Angelbomb are the first band we get to see, a three piece with sequenced synths and drums as the backing tracks, with live guitars, bass and vocals. I’d tried to access some of their recorded material before the gig, but had only managed to listen to a couple of live tracks on YouTube. They are a little on the industrial side – not as heavy as Ministry but for a first listening, very amenable. The live and sequenced sounds blend seamlessly and I found myself enjoying what I was listening to with a solid baseline and guitars that swirled around the vocal soundbites. Sadly, all over a bit too soon for me.
Quickly taking the stage next is Swedish band Then Comes Silence. This is the band I have really come to see following my discovery of them a couple of years ago on Spotify. The enthralling single ‘Strangers’ from the band’s third album found its way onto my monthly playlist followed shortly after by the full fourth album ‘Blood’ which I couldn’t stop playing. It is an album packed full of fantastic Rock songs, but with that slight Gothic edge. The band describe themselves as Post-Punk rather than Goth and the album, released on Nuclear Blast records was produced by Tom van Heesch who has worked with Rammstein amongst others. A little internet research told me they were from Stockholm and so I thought the chances of seeing them live were rather remote with their live shows seemingly restricted to Germanic lands and European festivals (albeit sharing the stage with some of the best Alternative Rock bands around). An accomplished band with four great albums they have eventually made their way to London town - to my great excitement. And I am not disappointed. The band matches the ambience of the night. Alex Svenson on vocals and bass with his distinctive eye make-up is joined by Mattias Ruejas Jonson and Hugo Zombie on guitars with Jonas Fransson on drums. Then Comes Silence step out from the shadows!
They are very good live. The picked melodies are not lost with a good live sound quality. They are clearly an accomplished live band at the top of their game. The clean echoverb guitars build up and smash into noise building up the subtle dark rhythms. This is more about overdrive and chorus pedals rather than distortion allowing the intricate picked melodies to come through as well as the heavier riffs.
The set list includes many of their singles such as ‘Spinning Faster’, ‘Flashing Pangs of Love’ and ‘Strange Kicks’ allowing the drums to build up their beat.
They slow down for a track or two giving a spookier atmosphere with the haunting loops of ‘Warm Like Blood’ before piling on the energy with ‘The Rest Will Follow’. This is very danceable stuff and the crowd are swaying along in time with the fast and furious ‘Strangers’ and the last song of ‘Slowly Dragging You Down’ from the first album.
I caught up with Mattias after the show who confirmed how busy they have been touring Europe and doing festivals. This continues for the rest of the year, but another album and studio time is planned. They have enjoyed their first trip to London. Compared to Sweden, the beer is cheap but the fags expensive! Hopefully we will be seeing and hearing more from Then Comes Silence in the near future.
When the show list was published for the Then Comes Silence gig, I noticed the headliners were a band called 1919. To my surprise, I had not come across them much before - surprising as they are from Bradford and have been around since the early 1980’s involved in the same Punk and Post-Punk scene in West Yorkshire producing bands such as New Model Army, Death Cult, Sisters of Mercy etc. After a long history of ups and downs, the current line up reformed in 2015 and recaptured some of their old material whilst producing the new album ‘Bloodline’ in 2017 and the latest offering ‘Futurecide’ in 2019. And what an album indeed - in my humble opinion – the best album this decade in the genre. It is packed with melodies and solid songs that stand with the best. It has been on repeat on my iplayer for weeks now and I keep going back to it when bored of other albums. Sign of a great album and I guarantee that it will be on my most played albums of the year, if not the decade.
So how would this translate into the live show? Well, Rio Goldhammer - the front man enters the stage dressed in sunglasses and gold glitter jacket and bursts into ‘Anxiety’ the first track on the ‘Futurecide’ album. So far so good, with a sound reminiscent of early U2, overdrive rather than distortion and Goldhammer’s distinctive vocals carry the song seamlessly from the record to the live performance. Mick Reed on drums drives the set from the back with boundless energy and Sam Evans on guitars seems to have mastered not only the new 1919 sound but gives the older tracks a good work out too. The back catalogue gets some attention with an early Killing Joke feel with the sound of deliberate discordant guitar and pounding Post-Punk rhythms with Karl Donner on bass. This clearly resonates with some of the band’s older fans in the audience who are creating their own personal mosh pits!
The band mix the modern and past, playing tracks such as ‘Radicals’, and ‘Isolation’ from the new album to keep the crowd going. There is a lot of energy here and I am left very satisfied with all three bands I have seen giving me excellent value for my money. 1919 take their name from “a year of massive change and desperate rebellion”. A century on in 2019, some things haven’t changed with quite a desperate year to come with a new Prime Minister and the Brexit question to be setteld, but at least I’ve got some cracking tunes to keep me distracted!
Chris Bourlet (pictures courtesy of Imogen Kilduff)