Who can follow BARBEROS? They must be cussed like no other band, right, because what breed of lunatic would dare try? The aforesaid trio do their usual here – play the show of your lives, hold the place up with their headsock-shock and percussive awe – and the impossible challenge is laid. The sharper among you will know, though, that the answer is (uniquely) GNOD. By happy coincidence, they’re playing at tonight’s concert, and the titular foursome – beefed up to six in touring mode – love a bit of repetition and loathing.
Let us not mince genre-speak: track one beats you about the head then scrapes nails down a blackboard; track two is a beating with heavier implements, then an unwisely busy pizza during a fever, while a baby cries through one wall and an argument rages behind another. Dual drumming denies comfort: no, not bandmates joining in on the first single off the second album of a noughties indie mediocrity, but proper, working stick-wielders, making that four on the night.
Back in the show, track three’s dynamics (roughly: slipping on wet rails in a pitch-black tunnel, knowing the midnight express to oblivion is due) collapse inwards. “Too many well-known faces are staring at me from the mirror,” Paddy Shine howls – this is The Mirror, one of two oldies (released a whole month earlier) in a set of ultra-new material. Track four, to continue the only naming system available, is a rash, then an anxiety dream involving clocks and some unreasonably hyperactive ferrets, until it downs tools and insists we have it out. I’m reminded of my old friend X (not his name) who’d turn up to morning shifts drowned in booze, and not in a “great party” way. He’d vanish for hours. We muddled through with humour, were young and clueless, did nothing; he’s left us now. One day, he’d rocked up cased in cuts and bruises, serene. He’d felt so numb he’d provoked a commuter into decking him. They’d brawled on the road for no reason at all. X ate pavement, wanted to. And he looked so alive. And now here are the visceral, merciless Gnod, and somewhere the two seem to relate.
Considering it’s a relentless, industrial krautrock battering, there’s an extraordinary range of moods. Track five, aka Learn To Forget, is dentist’s drill jamming with an air-raid siren and a lawnmower that your sleeve is caught in, then rips a plaster from a longstanding scab before continuing with a fire alarm you can’t silence and the consumption of the blackened toast responsible. Track six is your regrets fenced in by roaring road diggers manned by your nemeses and the heat of molten Tarmac, which you’re attuned to until an unhelpfully laissez-faire beekeeper passes as you address the lemonade Beyoncé made you.
Gnod refract the political and psychological, each too murky to decipher else why would they be trying? Track seven has you soundly thrashed beneath a glaring sun, until an outbreak of shade that, despite Field Marshall Shine’s grating bark, offers sweet relief. With that, a herd of passing horses trample you for three minutes solid and a door slams on your fingers. There’s a kind of outage, a bomb’s aftermath, and that’s it, no coming back for you or the magnificent Gnod. That was fun, let’s do it again ASAP. And so long, X – you’d have dug these.