Earthless - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:
Earthless - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Earthless - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

It’s Tuesday night and if things have seemed a little quiet around here recently then that’s all about to change with the arrival of Earthless. The San Diego three-piece released their latest opus, Black Heaven, back in March and they’re now hitting the road to bring their blissfully uncompromising take on psychedelic rock to venues across Europe. With my earplugs cautiously placed inside my pocket, I head down to The Brudenell Social Club to start my summer with a good, old-fashioned sonic shakedown.

First up tonight I’m introduced to New Jersey’s Ruby the Hatchet. The sound sits somewhere between occult-inclined, psychedelic rock and the pure, exhilarating drive of Sabbath and their classic riff-worshipping metal. It hits me square between the eyes from the moment I arrive. It’s not usually something I notice but the band look great, like they’ve stepped out of the pages of some classic, Zeppelin-era rock magazine.

The songs, well-crafted riff monsters, are delivered with admirable passion throughout. It’s quite possible that Ruby the Hatchet have been beamed down from another planet with the sole intention of showing us how to rock. Vocalist Jillian Taylor was clearly born to be on stage, throwing herself into the set with all the theatrical flair that the music demands. Hair flying everywhere as she struts and sings, “you can’t save me” on the fantastic and impossibly cool ‘Killer’.

The songs thunder along in the vein of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, often pausing towards the end before launching into a wild, untamed wig-out. Taylor’s voice sits at the heart of the sound as the band commit themselves to every hard-edged riff and psychedelic groove. It’s the kind of performance that makes you feel alive and you really can’t ask for more than that. An absolutely spellbinding set, I’m thoroughly hooked by the time they’re done.

Never ones for understatement, Earthless open with the monumental 15 minute, distortion-heavy, instrumental ‘Uluru Rock’. It’s Hendrix at his most excessive, psychedelia with the stabilisers taken off. Taken from 2013’s From the Ages LP, it’s a sprawling, unyielding jam and the perfect way to start the show. Every time you think it might be winding to a close it just steps things up a gear and ploughs ahead. Earthless, it seems to say, don’t do things by halves.

Any misguided notion that the inclusion of vocals on some of the tracks and slightly shorter songs on the latest album might somehow water-down the band’s sound is blown clean away as they launch into the riff-tastic, Zeppelin-meets-Boris onslaught of the title track from Black Heaven. Guitar maestro Isaiah Mitchell is sweating buckets as he conjures up a never-ending stream of riffs and endlessly spiralling solos. I’m sweating just watching it all.

‘Gifted by the Wind’ brings us some heavy, badass wah-wah and some of those much-talked-about vocals. Never dominating proceedings, Mitchell’s voice simply adds an additional layer of cool to the bands already formidable sound. Hints of classic rock come through but with the experimental-come-improvisational vibes turned up and everything pushed firmly into the red.

The riffs are relentless and Mario Rubalcaba’s drumming is absolutely insane, in fact, the bands whole sound resides at the edge of sanity.  I’m sure it would drive some people up the wall but for those who can stand the heat, it’s a real treat. It’s also the loudest band I’ve seen play the Brudenell for some time.

The whole set is unapologetically excessive as the band throw themselves into one fast, devastating wig-out after another. It’s a powerful, unrestrained and overwhelming experience. The band finishes with a mangled but nonetheless recognisable cover of Zeppelin’s ‘Communication Breakdown’. Dragging it roughly from its comfortable, classic rock shelf and playing it to within an inch of its life. An exhausting but ridiculously impressive performance, if only every Tuesday was this exciting.

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