Grave Lines + Dystopian Future Movies w/ Sūrya + Lowen
@ The Black Heart, Camden Town, London
9th February 2019
Review & Photography by Ryan Whitwell / Shotison.com
A great line-up tonight at Camden’s Black Heart, with lots of doomy, sludgy treats for the ears on offer! Grave Lines and Dystopian Future Movies recently released a split EP/collaboration, “Beholden To The Flame”, plus there were a couple of collaborative moments on stage tonight, but there were also a couple of support acts to join the celebration of the new EP in the forms of Lowen and Sūrya.
First to play were Lowen. The vocal talent is the first thing that stands out with this band, not least because the opening bars of their set was singer Nina Saeidi singing solo. It’s also how Lowen’s debut album from last year, “A Crypt In The Stars”, opens. It’s a great way to announce the set has begun.
The “Middle Eastern epoch inspired doom” that the event page described them as playing certainly came through and is a great dimension to the band’s sound. Guitarist Shem Lucas offered up plenty of energy with hair flying during each number.
The set featured some great numbers with a good mix of loud crescendo moments and more sombre sections. Overall, it was relatively lively compared to the bands that were due to follow Lowen. The set came around full circle with the final notes being reminiscent of the opening vocal solo, as Nina was left alone to close the set.
Sūrya have a great, big, sludgey doom sound that I love. Lots of drawn out phrases with a few sections of voice over from news programs with some disturbing messages that fit the tone of the band very well.
Visually we were confronted with dim lights and a projector showing a whole host of archive footage, newsreels and a few abstract bits. It was a great way to create an unnerving mood that the music added to.
Distress and despair seemed to be the emotions I was getting from the band’s music (which is what I expected), and the minimal vocals, when present, only added to that feeling.
At times numbers seemed to blend into one another, which maintained the atmosphere throughout much of the set. If you like your sludge more instrumental but with that same feeling of despair that a lot in the genre have, you should check out the band’s 2016 album, Apocalypse A . D. (It’s on Bandcamp)
Dystopian Future Movies are a tough one to categorise. They are doom, but a touch more mellow, with Caroline Cawley’s vocals inspiring a haunting vibe. The set shifted between heavy and light, often within the same song, but maintained a feeling that was befitting of this evening filled with macabre tones.
The experimental sounds emanating from the amps was rather hypnotic, but also a little unnerving as the lack of rigid rhythms allowed “unpredictable” to be added to the list of adjectives that describe the band’s sound.
Grave Lines front man Jake Harding joined for penultimate number ‘Beholden’ (From the new EP), which oozed a great feeling of some kind of imposing dread. The two harmonising vocal tones really worked well together on stage and really sold the EP for me (that I hadn’t listened to before the gig).
Grave Lines would push the curfew to the edge with a powerful set. Plenty of heavy hitters and dark headbangers in the set tonight.
Singer Jake seemed to throw himself into this one, with pained expressions and anger-ridden vocals. Guitarist Oli was also very expressive, moving constantly to the front and back of the stage space like a caged lion when not focusing on banging out some hefty riffs for tracks like the final number ‘The Greae’.
Bassist Matt and drummer Julia were more contained and reserved in their presentation but the hard hitting heavy rhythms were far from ‘reserved’.
Caroline of Dystopian Future Movies was invited for a number, which, like earlier, sounded great. The added harmonies created another layer to the track.
Drummer Julie also moved to the front of the stage for a vocal performance before returning to the back to provide the synth of Loathe/Displace from the band’s 2018 album ‘Fed Into The Nihilist Engine‘ (one of my personal favourite albums from last year).
No time for encores, but I was pretty satisfied after four excellent examples of macabre doom, experimental tones, and the occasional dirty riff!
Grave Lines Setlist: