If you’ve banged your head at least once to any number of the down-tempo deathcore bands popping out of the woodwork in local scenes around America, you owe Hull City’s Black Tongue a big ol’ thank you. As a huge fan of down-tempo, hate-driven insanity, I owed it to myself (and to the band) to see these progenitors of low’n’slow brutality when they finally rolled through on the second day of their first ever US tour. The Born Hanged US tour headlines Black Tongue, with support from The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Villains, Lifeforms and Dealey Plaza—make no mistake, even with the bizarre mix-mash of bands comprising the tour package, the show is an experience you want to make sure you’re a part of, as every band delivered nothing but the best, most intense imaginable series of performances—headlined by the havoc that is Black Tongue.
While the tour had local support from Argus, Like Statues, Ethereality and Athena’s Grace, this review focuses on the performances of the touring bands (and the caveat that I was unable to see a solid half of the opening acts). If you make it out to this bone-busting tour as it breaks into your hometown, be sure to do what you can to make it there and support your local heroes.
The tour’s first band, Dealey Plaza are incredible. To say they start the tour strong would be an understatement to the true devastation they deliver. Even with slight technical mishaps, guitarist Jesse Kirkbride and bassist Troy Sinatra brought the band’s instrumental intensity to life on stage. Despite Kirkbride’s guitar cutting out for a fraction of a track, Sinatra carried on strong, keeping the song’s candor moving along at a galloping pace. Speaking of a galloping pace, the band’s fill-in drummer may as well be a full-time member of the band, as he had nothing but complete mastery over every track they played. The highlight of Dealey Plaza’s dynamite performance, however, was vocalist Bryan Long. When it comes to capturing an evil, possessed atmosphere and retaining accuracy to their studio material, Long is far and away the best there is. Every high was shrill and ear-splitting, while every low was booming and guttural. Long even did a stellar job of covering Dan Watson’s section of “Eight Forty Six,” which is certainly a feat to be proud of.
I’m not going to lie—when it comes to studio material, I am hardly familiar with Lifeforms. I knew them to be a bouncy, groovy and raunchily heavy progressive act, but that’s about where my knowledge ends. However, even in spite of my ignorance of the band’s existence, Lifeforms were absolutely spot-on. Instrumentally, the drums were crisp and hard-hitting, even if they were unmiced and raw. The bass and guitarists were both sources of constant entertainment, bouncing and roaming around the stage just as frantically as the band’s gyrating, groovy music. Once more, however, Lifeforms truly outdid themselves with a standout vocal performance—courtesy of Howie’s stellar range and pitch-perfect tone. Every shout, scream and harsh, grating yell was crystal clear and complimented the tight-knit instrumentation excellently—even if it drowned out the kick drum and toms at a point.
Simply put, Villains were insanity incarnate. In what might have been the single loudest set I have ever seen, every range of human emotion was put on display for the crowd to not just witness, but be a part of. Whether it was manic-depressive miming of suicide or facetious, cynical (and sort of scary) happiness, Villains covered it all—especially the aggressive portion. Every aspect of the band’s performance was perfectly synced together, providing an incredible spectacle of spot-on musicianship and surreal, haunting imagery. At the end of the day, there isn’t much more to be said; I don’t know what I expected from Villains’ live performance, but whatever it was, I got it—and then some.
The Last Ten Seconds of Life
In keeping with the bands before them, The Last Ten Seconds of Life brought their A-game, and came ready to unleash hell on the audience. Bassist Anthony Madara and guitarist Wyatt McLaughlin roamed the stage like juggernauts on the hunt for war, while vocalist Storm Strope was a source of absolute intensity, covering his immense range as easily as if he were reading a children’s story. Strope is another vocalist whose accuracy to his studio performances were uncanny, bordering on interchangeable. At the heart of their entire performance, drummer Christian Fisher was a constant ball of energy pummeling the crowd with fill after fill, never letting up or slowing down—unless, of course, the breakdown or song change called for it. As a functioning unit, The Last Ten Seconds of Life proved that they are indeed on a warpath until they die.
Finally. The capstone to a night where each performance seemed to one-up the last, Black Tongue take the stage. As far their sound goes, they sounded perfect. The sounds coming out of the speakers may as well have been the record, because from the audience’s standpoint, not a note was missed nor a lyric botched. But seeing Black Tongue was just as much about embracing the frenzy and insanity as it was hearing the band play their music. Vocalist Alex Teyen and bassist Lloyd Newton thrived off of the crowd’s wonton anger and aggression, as guitarists Eddie Pickard and James Harrison filling the air with dissonant, brooding and dense strife—embodied when one of them snapped a string mid-song, yet managing to continue pushing through. All the while, drummer Aaron Kitcher plugged away, never missing a beat and steamrolling the audience with bass drop after bass drop after fill after bass drop. Simply put, members of the audience may as well hang themselves after seeing Black Tongue unleash pure mayhem—because there will likely never be another band to bring the hate quite that well.