Live ReviewsReviews

LIVE REVIEW: Svalbard, CLT DRP, HERIOT, Stereo, Glasgow, 22/11/2021

Photo Credit: Calum McMillan

If you someone asked if underground alternative music in the UK was in rude health, all you’d need to do is point them towards this bill.

HERIOT are loud. HERIOT are noisy. HERIOT are heavy. Finally, HERIOT are absolutely wonderful. A hugely compelling mix of all the best elements of feedback-inducing hardcore, the vicious riffing of extreme metal and the irresistible bounce of the heaviest end of nu-metal, this band are hugely compelling live.

There’s not much in the way of subtlety in their sound, though it’s not totally devoid of it, this is all about instinctive, visceral reactions to heavy music. Each riff and thunderous instrumental passage react to last. It’s like being buried under a sonic avalanche with all the raw intensity that implies. This isn’t the polished, laptop-guided, high-end production heaviness of a lot of their peers. HERIOT are the real deal. 8/10

CLT DRP are an entirely different proposition, but just as intense. They swap out the metallic nature of HERIOT for a pretty unique blend of live-layered, looped, and sampled guitar parts, dizzying drums, and vocals that range from acerbic spoken word to pop melodies and thoroughly intimidating shouts.

If you were to think along the lines of bands like the quirky nature Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the more effects-laden elements of Rage Against the Machine you’re in a similar park to the band, but certainly not the same one. The unashamedly confrontational and political nature of their songs is more challenging than the heaviest metal band or the most complicated prog band, each of their songs is a real sonic journey, fuelled by sincere, compelling rage and creative musicianship. This is the shape of punk to come Refused were singing about all those years ago, and it’s much more exciting than 90% of bands who would tag themselves as punk. A truly mesmerizing performance from one of the UK’s most unique bands. 8/10

Headliners Svalbard sit at what might seem an awkward musical crossroads. Their music contains elements of the more extreme end of post-hardcore, smatterings of black metal, and the delicate to soaring dynamic of post-rock. On their own, all quite disparate parts, but the whole is pretty stunning.

Similar to HERIOT and CLT DRP; Svalbard are a very organic band. There doesn’t seem to be a sound through the PA that isn’t created on the stage, which makes the band’s combination of breakneck pace, lush melodies and savage vocals all the more compelling. There’s a real push and pull to their compositions, whether it’s the relentless moments of blast beats and tremolo picking or the crescendos of their more restrained musical movements. Everything feels very real, in the best possible way.

Lyrically, Svalbard are like an exposed nerve: raw and seething. This band exists without metaphor, their messaging is devastatingly direct, which works as a nice contrast to the band’s almost overwhelmingly wholesome between-song banter. Beaming ear to ear and telling the crowd how ‘’lovely’’ it is to see them all on a Monday night after ripping their way through such intense tracks with such exquisitely unapologetic lyricism.

As welcome as it is to hear the band delve deep into their catalogue throughout the set, closing with Grayscale, in particular, being a classy move, it’s really the tracks from last year’s quite frankly stunning When I Die, Will I Get Better? that have the biggest impact. It’s in moments like the overwhelming brilliant opener Open Wound and the bellow along with the nature of Silent Restraint that it becomes clear just how special this band are.

How many of their peers could shift from the fragile beauty opening Click Bait to it’s simple, the visceral chorus of ‘’fuck off’’ and make it sound as sincere and vital as this? Not many, if any at all.

Svalbard are worthy headliners tonight, which is no small thing when you consider how outstanding every band on this bill is. 9/10

Words and Photos By: Calum McMillan