LIVE REVIEW: UNSANE, Cassels, Ballpeen @ The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle (28.10.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings had assembled an unholy bastion of noise for the arrival of hardcore pioneers UNSANE. 

First on the bill were local hellraisers Ballpeen. An unrelenting performance that hit like chugging gas from the nozzle, the trio are cut from the same ilk as the ferocious noise-metal of Blacklisters. Vocalist Graham Thompson’s throat-mangling roars are akin to those of noise rock legend Falco, this was visceral, elaborate hardcore from one of Newcastle’s noisiest bands.

I’d been dying to see Cassels and their ‘sprechgesang’-steered grizzly tales for misanthropic kids was a snug fit before the headline act. That’s not to say the duo conform to pre-packaged post-punk – far from it, as they’ve long been shaped by their own ingenuity. Brothers Jim and Loz Beck sliced into opener Your Humble Narrator, with a set that was teeming with jolting riffs, calculated drumming and sardonic lyricism. Lead single Mr Henderson Coughs is a doom-laden anthem for our times, before the thunderous breakdown of Charlie Goes Skiing bludgeoned the front row. I have A Gut Feeling that Cassels will make pertinent listening after the current cultural trend has ebbed away. 

Noise titans UNSANE have maintained an unwavering cult following since their formation in 1988. Having re-released their remastered self-titled debut LP, founding guitarist-frontman Chris Spencer is now joined by Daughter’s drummer John Syverson and bassist Cooper of Made Out Of Babies. Under bloodbath-red lighting, the New York trio let rip a scalding barrage of guttural vocals, sawtoothed bass and shattering percussion. Their set was bestrewn with wallopers from across the first three albums, including Bath, Scrape and Get Off My Back – a feral audience suggested their popularity hasn’t waned since their last appearance in Newcastle a decade ago. Etched with discordant melody, this stark, unadulterated noise rock left me nursing tinnitus for days.

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