Live Review from Berri Txarrak (Basque 巴斯克) Live in Hong Kong!:
- Etorkizuneko Aurrekari Guztiak
- Izena, Izana, Ezina
- Espero Zaitzaket
- Isiltzen Banaiz
- Denak Ez Du Balio
- Hil Nintzen Eguna
- Bisai Berriak
- Gure Dekadentziaren Onenean
The stage had been totally set by SP for a rip-roaring finish to the night – and as tough a task it may have seemed at the time to top the preceding set, these guys actually managed it. Their set had a good dose of the low-slung buzzsaw guitars, abrasive tones, monster basslines and amphetamined drums that characterise hardcore. A substantial part of their sound is having the thickness of tone and lightly bluesy influence of early heavy metal, with (appropriately reduced) riffs peeking around the edges in many places, and lots of plam-muted, shreddy bits. But, there were also some very punk tendencies, especially with regard to the choice of chords, singer/guitarists Gorka’s vocals, the hooks in the songs, and quite simply in terms of feel – despite all the weight that their sound possesses, it also retains an unforced semi-lightness to it, a Devo-esque quality, which adds to the songs’ speedy feel. The overall sound was something close to the Dead Kennedys’ early work in spirit, SSD’s punchy metal-esque form, with the sonic depth that bands like the Accüsed reached. This made for an extremely headbang-able blend, which more than compensated for the fact that their lyrics were (regrettably) not in a tongue that we understood.
Things began with the Sabbath-ey riff and driving drumwork of Etorkizuneko…, and wasted no time moving into the almost RKL-esque Folklore, which used the chords from the Ramones’ Pinhead (whether deliberately, or by some amazing coincidence is as yet unclear) in an interesting new fashion. Izena… featured an almost minimalist metal riff, that could easily burrow into your subconscious and stay there. We were given a little background to Payola before the song zipping riffs (oh, man, this song, it has a hook and a half!) took over without the atmosphere dipping an iota. Jaio.Musika.Hil was a grungy bit of feedbacked goodness, as was Denak Ez… that explored a mildly less hyper form of hardcore, of the sort that Fang used to play. There were moments in the set where they went in quite tangential directions, such as the pensive, chord-drivenEskuak/Ukabilak, and the near-jazzily overtoned Bisai Berriak. By the time the very Melvins-like Oihu finished off, they had definitely succeeded in showing us the (racing) heart of their sound, while also exploring the finer gullies that can be explored between punk, hardcore, metal, and grunge. Because the vast majority of their songs are fast and heavy, this can make them blend into each other sometimes, but they’re also packed with riffs, and clever instrumentation. Plus, if you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with playing a solid hardcore set through and through.
The trio were also more than capable of maintaining the energy on-stage, as despite having played a very long set, they were always mobile, and charged. Even when the guitar had a couple of strings broken, the energy did not flag, as they ably kept the audience engaged. The encore (that I got to call them on for, much to my delight) was a DRI-esque number, well-balanced between all the directions that their music pulls in; a fitting closer to their set, and to a night of very high-quality music and performances. I’m sure that all present were as bowled over by the bands that night as I was, ‘cause it washella-fun!