Circle Takes The Square – Camden Underworld, 31/7/13

Hot on the heels of surprise release Consanguinity, Pariso’s set is rammed with storming new tracks plus a few of their older and deftly speedier material.  Despite their best efforts and plenty of perspiration from frontman Mario, the local band are met with a stoically static crowd that refuse to budge despite a torrent of riffs that should indeed lay waste to the room but are instead responded to with warm applause.

Full Of Hell are an altogether darker prospect.  Desolate and putrid, their version of hardcore takes the genre into some of the deepest depths of aural depravity.  A two minute blast of furious breakneck punk is followed by coruscating feedback: like sandpaper to the ears.  Vocals flit between dry-retching and wicked gurgles, the possessed frontman’s intense and disconcerting glare slowly surveying the room with nothing less than abhorrence for everyone within its stale confines.  Those down at the front are eager to react with that oh-so-familiar violent physicality, repeatedly denied by a band who seems to take much pleasure in descending into extended bouts of white noise.  A My Bloody Valentine style noise holocaust ends the decrepit proceedings, glitches from tortured circuitry adding to a pulsating bout of terrifying sound.  It’s decidedly unhinging- sending everyone in the room into a state of trance, feedback tearing at the ears and low end transferring tremors through everyone’s innards.  Surely amongst the most uncompromising and unsettling thirty minutes of grating music you’re ever likely to witness.

With many propping up the bar or merch stall, Code Orange Kids start their set to a rather sparse room. Unperturbed, they dive headfirst into their savage take on metallic hardcore, their bodies soon lurching with instruments thrashed around, taking the full brunt of each member’s furious display.  A potent momentum is soon built, the energy of both the band and a swelling crowd on an upward trajectory, physically manifesting in a pit that drags in more onlookers with each crushing chug, letting loose their ritualized gestures of violent abandon.  Guitarist Becca delivers her guttural banshee howls through a wall of sweat-ridden hair as the boys in the band commence the ritual of stripping themselves of inhibiting garments. ‘Liars///Trudge’ is one half savage dirge, the other an atmospheric foray into inner turmoil with Becca swapping her howls for hushed singing and allowing the pit dwellers to catch their breath as the rest of the Underworld stares in awe.  At the final track of set the band have whipped up an electric tension within the room, those at the front form a heap of flailing limbs as more reserved onlookers can’t help but headbang in approval.  As the zenith of intensity is reach the impossibly young four-piece pull one of the oldest tricks in the book: leave the crowd hungry with an abrupt and unannounced finish.  A mass of impassioned screams for encore go unanswered.

Tonight’s headliners Circle Take The Square return to the damp squalor of the Underworld after a nine year absence, taking to the stage under some simple but effective atmospheric lighting, emitting a cold beam onto each individual member.  The least visceral of the evening’s acts, Circle Takes The Square’s are an incredibly polished live entity- as to the demands of their progressive and intricate music where subtleties and dynamics need to be as palpable as possible to be affecting.  Tonight though, the band’s progressions become its undoing with their obtusely extended song lengths and overly long set time verging on over-indulgence.  Circle Takes The Square seem to be the antithesis of the uncompromising adrenaline-inducing abrasion that came before- their measured approach and instrumental digressions proving too much for the casual listener which, judging by the steady trickle of people heading for an early exit, makes up a sizeable portion of the crowd.  A gaggle of hardcore fans lap up the old ‘screamo’ songs and guitarist Drew’s schizophrenic preacher on barbiturates vocal style.  The band’s insistence playing exclusively new material for the first portion of their set may contribute to their lack of impact- especially as an eager gaggle down the front lap up songs from 2004’s As The Roots Undo. By the time they leave the stage the Underworld is only half full.  Their performance may be flawless but it lacks the grit and feral intensity that many in the crowd yearn for.

There is little doubt that the show is stolen by those plucky young Code Orange Kids, the only band who leave the crowd ravenous and baying to be brutalised further.  They prove themselves to be a vital prospect, and along with Full Of Hell’s hollocaustal tyranny they provoke a disconcerting emotional response that makes you feel alive, leaving Circle Takes The Square looking rather meek in comparison.