HMLTD

27 November
The Castle Hotel

Seeming to have come from nowhere, HMLTD (restyled from Happy Meal LTD, which was considered too close to another modern indie band) are one of the most exciting bands around right now, and the two tracks that can currently be found online (outside of live recordings) attest to that, with their refreshingly dissociated style, easily finding a way to build and drop within the tracks.

This almost seems like proto-punk, a new form that is both disgusting in content whilst also being somewhat refined. It has tangible edges and shape to it, and although the anger is raw it also seems contained and stylised.

‘Stained’, their latest single, has all the hard hitting punk DIY attitude of any good punk track, attacking everything and using an incredibly vibrant sound to do it. The best part of their writing comes from the nuances in their sound, something that can especially be seen in ‘Is This What You Wanted?’ and the more refined alternative electronic sound.

They’re a hard band to pin down, with such a range of sounds in their compositions. Something truly exciting, and something truly different.

Their live show amplifies exactly what the currently available singles have: the absolute rawness of a great band. Their sound seems to change to cater for their live performances, becoming more of a rock band than the alternative electronica they tease. This is no detriment however, and it’s rare to see a band that are so exciting and so captivating, and perhaps that is in part down to their extraordinary look.

It’s arguable that the aesthetic is everything, and for many bands it is. HMLTD are unusually the whole package. They have the look, and they have the tracks which ooze substance to back that up. If you’ve seen them on this tour, then you’ve most probably witnessed something that is very special.

Wes Foster

Background photo of HMLTD by Wes Foster.

worriedaboutsatan

28 November
The Castle Hotel

“You’re going to like worriedaboutsatan - if you’re into death metal,” jokes Samuel Ricketts, guitarist in supporting act Cloud Boat, who have just played a highly polished set of 2-step breaks and semi-shamanic chants to an enthused crowd. Indeed, the name worriedaboutsatan doesn’t conjure images of a duo drawing their influence from dubstep don Shackleton and recently had their new album debuted on Adam Curtis’ BBC documentary, Hypernormalisation - one of many that are musically synonymous with the paranoid electronic sounds of Burial and Pye Corner Audio.

Tom Ragsdale and Gavin Miller feel no burden of prove, transfixing us from the beginning with the sub-bass frequencies of opener, ‘Blank Tape’, which vibrate the fabric of my jeans and every attached fixture in the venue. Propelled through an impressive sound system, which captures every note with clarity, a projected waveform behind the duo flutters in synchronised chaos, enveloping Tom, who twists his controller’s dials with excited violence.

Maintaining an overt dance aesthetic, the pair launch into trance-laden bassline of ‘Tales From a Dead Man (Part 2)’ and the techno-injected kicks of ‘The Violent Sequence’. Even at 100bpm, the dystopian loss (‘I’m Not’) and obscure, tribal rhythms (‘Jaki’) maintain an intensity which proves irresistible to the body’s movement.

The droning bass tones of ‘The Woods’ close the set, unexpectedly building to a welcome amen break, which is adroitly delivered, spliced and diced by a sweat-clad Tom, an example of the simple, yet impactful formula that sets worriedaboutsatan apart from homogenised and sometimes confusing dance music culture. As the song concludes, Gavin, whose movements have been slower and dreamier throughout, thrashes in communion with his partner, delivering a perfect climax to an intimate and truly privileged show. They thank me for coming and I’m left thinking: who would miss it?

Josh Coulton