LKN, Eye of Nix, Theologian, & Eight Bells

LKN, Eye of Nix, Eight Bells, & Theologian show

Attentive readers may notice a few peculiar things about this concert review. I haven’t listed a date for the show, and if you are aware of the show in which these acts performed, you can see that I’ve listed them slightly out of order. There’s a good reason for this, although it’s a reason I wish I could magically avoid. Black Metal & Brews is my passion, but it isn’t exactly lucrative. With this in mind, I’ve taken up a job at a brick and mortar establishment, which means I get to miss parts of concerts in order to have the money to live. Since work is taking over my life these days, the brief moments of adventure I experience are more pronounced, so I hope this slightly unconventional review will provide insight nonetheless.

Work being the necessary burden that it is, I had to catch Theologian on a separate bill from their peers at the Lovecraft Bar on Friday, May 23rd. The performance was more of an emotional and mental experience than a musical one. I’m racking my brain at the moment, but I can’t recall having seen any noise, death industrial, or power electronics acts before, which makes Theologian’s set my first. With just two members performing, the sound that filled the tiny venue was massive enough to serve as Hell’s own house band. There was no introduction, no warning, just a moment of silence as the house music faded and Theologian walked to their instruments. Waves of bleak, yet not entirely atonal noise came slowly, building upon themselves as fog machines and laser lights distorted my vision. The relentlessness of Theologian’s approach was a force unlike anything I’d previously experienced. After about ten minutes (although time was hard to measure in the moment, it may have been far longer or shorter) of surging sound and feedback, a shift occurred. Main member Lee Bartow began screaming and manipulating his voice over the madness while his partner in chaos Matt Slagle picked up drum sticks and set the pace for the horror to march onward. The buzzing and swirling immensity of sound seemed to captivate a few members of the crowd while potentially alienating most of the audience. It was tense, unnerving, and terrifyingly beautiful. I’ve long been eager to attend a show of this nature, so I’m glad my first could be such an experienced and skilled act.

 

Now to the (slightly) sad part of the review. I missed seeing Eight Bells entirely because of work. Instead of catching their set, I was rushing my way out of work to catch the rest of the show at Slabtown. I did, however, get a chance to have a beer with guitarist Melynda Jackson and a brief but awesome talk with drummer Chad Rush. I’ve been playing their brilliant album, The Captain’s Daughterconstantly for the past couple of days and I hope I get a chance to actually witness their music in the live setting soon. Their unique free-form hybrid of progressive rock with random bursts of blackened fury is really captivating and they seem like genuinely great people to know, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for future shows and releases.

 

I was lucky enough to arrive about halfway through a set from Seattle’s Eye of Nix. I’d briefly perused their bandcamp profile beforehand but intentionally left myself mostly in the dark. The two songs I witnessed were strange and wonderful. Eye of Nix, much like Eight Bells, play a form of music that exists outside of simple description and instead conjures up whatever mood the band needs to create at any given moment. With elements of sludge, black metal, and psychedelic noise wizardry, it would be easy for Eye of Nix to simply crush heads at all times, but there was so much subtlety and vulnerability to their set, due in great part to the impressive vocal range and presence of Joy Von Spain. From truly operatic vibrato to scathing black metal shrieks, she was a perfect guide through the misery and terror crafted by her bandmates. It’s always great to witness heavy music in a live setting, but it’s even more spectacular when a band is actually doing something artistic and original while working with familiar elements. Eye of Nix are clearly doing something new and challenging, which excites me. Many of the band’s members take on roles in other Seattle groups, and I look forward to spending weeks to come perusing their many projects.

 

Closing the night was local group LKN, whose music totally caught me off guard. At its surface, LKN’s music revolves around the clever guitar work of Lauren K Newman, who seems to live in a world where indulgent guitar solos are still totally awesome and belong in dirty garage rock. Honestly, I’m totally okay with it and wish more rock groups would share this approach. By this point in the night, I was rather exhausted from my long day, yet I still couldn’t keep my eyes off Newman’s hands as she tore up her instrument. The group’s songs were infectious and fun while still having just enough of an edge to complement the more aggressive sounds of the night’s earlier acts nicely. On a bill so diverse, it was great to have a band bring together so many different aspects of rock music in one compact and engaging package. Had I more energy in me, I’d surely have more to say, but I was just mesmerized. While the crowd was modest in size, it was clear that everybody in the house had a great time. This is definitely an act to keep an eye on for any locals looking for a great show.