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Thursday 11th January 2007
013 (Bat Cave) in Tilburg, Netherlands
Dutch mathcore quintet Charlie Adler open proceedings this evening. With discernible influences including Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan and even Meshuggah, the band deliver a solid, dynamic performance during their half hour set. Their shortish compositions are loaded with a plethora of technical riffing, interesting time signatures, and impressively tight drumming. It's all been done before, but Charlie Adler are an entertaining band to watch through the evident enthusiasm they have for the music they play. Overall, not wholly original but impressive and certainly a band to look out for in the future.
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Up next are the second Dutch band of the evening, The Julie Mittens, who I understood to be a three-piece but, tonight, only 2 band members appear on stage. Consisting of a drummer and guitarist/bassist, The Julie Mittens perform what seems to be one long instrumental track that lasts for around half an hour. The guitarist/bassist alternates between both instruments, creating atmospheric feedback and emotionally rousing noise while the drummer plays sporadically progressive beats with occasional flourishes of jazz-inspired rhythms. In a postmodern age of music where plagiarism and pastiche are rife, it is rare to encounter a band that manages to both transcend and defy categorisation. However, despite The Julie Mittens' profound originality, you would need to be in the right mood to fully appreciate their enigmatic, progressive 'noise' and all of its expressive complexities. This is witnessed tonight by a clear divide in the audience as half appear transfixed by the band's performance while many others are clearly disinterested and stand around chatting. For anyone in search of something completely different, I recommend you check out The Julie Mittens. Very impressive.
The 'Bat Cave', the smallest of Tilburg's 013 venue's 3 halls, has a capacity of 150 and is around two thirds full this evening. Judging by the large gathering directly in front of the stage before Ephel Duath's appearance many have turned up solely to see this innovative Italian band and is indicative of their ever-growing popularity. The last time I saw Ephel Duath was at The Old Angel in Nottingham, UK, just under 3 months ago when their set was prematurely cut short after only half an hour by an untimely power cut. Fortunately, and despite a few technical glitches with their sound, they are free from such bad luck tonight. Playing much the same set as when I saw the band at Progpower Europe last year, Ephel Duath still impress with their virtuosic musicianship and captivating performance. Luciano Lorusso George is an extraordinary and unique frontman - contrary to his friendly and mild-mannered off-stage persona, he seemingly transforms into 'character' during Ephel Duath's set with a pseudo-aggressive performance and almost threatening banter with the audience as he incessantly demands between most songs that people should move closer to the stage. The majority of the crowd oblige at each of these requests and there are even brief mosh pits during 'The Passage (pearl grey)' and then again later in the set. Drummer Sergio Ponti, who is still relatively new in the band (since September 2006), reads from sheet music as he did when I saw Ephel Duath last year, but less so now and makes more visual contact with the other band members. His drumming is astoundingly powerful and tight and when you consider he's had to learn the complex patterns first played by the band's previous drummer, and the fact he emulates these flawlessly, it is a remarkable achievement from an evidently highly skilled musician. Bassist Fabio Fecchio and guitarist Davide Tiso also impress with their wide array of playing styles and efficacious use of effects as they seamlessly interweave the varied segments of each song into coherent, and often cacophonic, wholes. In short, Ephel Duath are compelling, bewildering and generally brilliant.
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