Corrections House In London: Live Review

By on 16 April 2014

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Corrections House, the experimental collective consisting of Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod), Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Sanford Parker (Minsk), made their UK debut with a volatile performance in London last weekend, but were the band able to recreate the harrowing atmosphere of ‘Last City Zero’ on stage? Kez Whelan was there, and here’s what he made of it…

CORRECTIONS HOUSE + CONSUMER ELECTRONICS + NECRO DEATHMORT

BIRTHDAYS, LONDON, APRIL 12th

Whoever decided to get local boys Necro Deathmort to open up for this made an inspired decision. The duo are on form tonight, transitioning between pummelling, Broaderick-esque riffery to harsh breakbeats and spacious, atmospheric dub sections to retina scorching walls of noise without ever feeling forced or clumsy. These guys never really disappoint, but, tonight, bolstered by the kind of bass frequencies that give your lower intestine serious cause for alarm, their nightmarish industrial vision becomes all the more devastating. If you’re ever wondered what ‘Streetcleaner’ would sound like in a K-hole but don’t really fancy ingesting all that horse tranquiliser, then Necro Deathmort have the answer.

It’s remarkable how well Philip Best’s angry rant routine has aged. Whilst the sound of his distinctive, grating snarl hurling various obscenities over bloody great slabs of searing, grey noise may have lost a smidgen of its confrontational power over the years, it’s still no less exhilarating than the first time you heard Consumer Electronics and then proceeded to have the living shit scared out of you. Considering noise is often associated with static, knob twiddling performances, Consumer Electronics really come to life on stage, with Best’s role almost resembling that of a traditional frontman figure, goading the crowd and providing a hyperactive, constantly engaging focal point. The difference is, rather than telling us all “how great it is to be here” and getting us to clap along, Best is pointing his finger at us, veins bulging as he stares us down and shrieks maxims such as “we need to establish some fucking rules in here!” The set takes a more rhythmical tangent towards the end, allowing a brutally steady marching beat to pulse away under the aforementioned massive fucking walls of noise, which come thick and fast and seem to get louder and louder and then even louder until you can almost feel yourself about to snap – and then, an abrupt end, with only a disarmingly muffled “thanks” to bid us adieu. Great stuff.

If there was ever any worry that Correction House‘s mechanical sound wouldn’t translate into a live performance, it’s instantly forgotten after the incendiary ‘Bullets And Graves’ goes off like a sonic nail-bomb, shooting penetrating shards of electronic noise across the room. With Sanford Parker manning the control desk at the rear, and Mike Williams ranting away behind a stark, makeshift pulpit like the leader of some futuristic cult, flanked by the imposing figure of Scott Kelly and Bruce Lamont’s unhinged blur of energy, the quartet strike quite an imposing stage presence (complete with sinister matching uniforms, naturally). Of course, playing most of their ‘Last City Zero’ debut makes for a set packed to the rafters with highlights, and ‘Serve Or Survive’ in particular sounds enormous, with that riff rendered all the more pulverizing in the flesh. ‘Dirt Poor And Mentally Ill’ is very powerful indeed, but it’s not just the brash, industrial bangers that get an airing, with the damaged, tragic strains of ‘Hallows Of The Stream’ sounding alarmingly delicate tonight.

Unfortunately, certain pockets of the crowd are a little too preoccupied to care. Now, I don’t want to come across as one of these glumly archaic doomsayers who blames all of society’s ills on advances in technology, but come on, can we just put the smart phones away for a second? It’s all well and good dicking about with your little toy in your own good time, and sure, yeah, maybe there’s that email that you absolutely need to send right in the middle of a band’s sole UK performance, but standing in the front row, turning your back to the stage, passing your phone to your mate and posing like an eager tourist in front of  the Eiffel tower is just taking the piss. Has the voyeuristic nature of social media really reduced our perception of a performing artist to that of a caged animal in a zoo, some trivial photo opportunity to impress all your online friends? What’s the point in taking a photo to immortalise a memory you weren’t really present for in the first place?

Turning your back on Scott Kelly is never the best plan, of course, and it’s not long before the guitarist hurls a nearby bottle of water at this guy, ruining his Kodak moment and, with any luck, his camera too. The man glares at Kelly, who merely glances back at the rest of us and mutters “generation gap…” with a shrug. Despite the looming threat of Kelly’s wrath, the allure of the glowing screen still proves too much for some, and halfway through Mike Williams’ heartfelt spoken word segment in ‘Last City Zero’, he suddenly snaps at a woman in the front row “this bitch is on her phone. What a stupid cunt!” Don’t worry though; she’s too busy updating her Facebook status to even notice, let alone take offence…

Seemingly spurred on by this apathy, the band assume a whole new level of ferocity towards the end of the set, culminating in a totally devastating rendition of ‘Hoax The System’. The song quickly spirals out of control, with Kelly thrusting as much of his guitar as he can into a speaker stack, Williams throttling his pulpit to the ground and Lamont squealing away on the sax like a man possessed. After reaching the ear splitting finale, Williams earnestly thanks us for “checking out something different”, and it’s all over. Those who were at the front pounding their fists, nodding their heads and generally losing their shit stand with their jaws agape at the spectacle that’s just taken place in front of them, whilst the sullen drones who were unable to pry their glassy eyes away from their handheld electronic sedatives shuffle off into the night as if nothing ever happened.

Fuck ’em; something DID happen tonight, and it was something pretty damn special indeed…

WORDS: Kez Whelan

You can find Corrections House on Facebook.

About Kez Whelan

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