COALESCE + Taint. Underworld, London. 19.06.09

This kinda feels like it should be bigger. It kinda feels like Coalesce, one of metallic hardcore’s pioneers arriving in the UK for the first time ever, should be selling out somewhere huge instead of just comfortably-filling the Underworld. But get inside, get up close, and when things get started, it really couldn’t be better. No one is here to see if the band mess up or miss a cue, too old to rock. Instead everyone is on the same side from the first note and it’s pretty much perfect.

Before all that though, Taint tear into unsuspecting eardrums like they hate the ability to hear. A little like tonight’s headliners in their own country, the Welshmen have remained relatively unsung heroes of Britain’s metal scene for some time. But based on tonight’s performance, the reason why is a mystery. Armed with huge richter scale-bothering riffs, primal sea beast power and enough beardy menace to put Mastodon to shame, they bash through a set like jackhammers through concrete, convert people by the bucketload, and are a bloody revelation. At least they would be if it wasn’t for Coalesce.

For the headliners see, this is the first trip outside the US and they’re clearly here to make the most of it. Within seconds of ‘Have Patience’ click-click-booming into life both guitarist and frontman are in the crowd, writhing like their fingers are jammed in the mains. And that crowd aren’t slouching either- some people here have waited over a decade to see Coalesce in the flesh and as tracks like ‘My Love For Extremes’, ‘A Disgust For Details’ and killer newies like ‘The Plot Against My Love’ spin heads and seriously bother the venue’s foundations, they go suitably apeshit.

There are no Led Zeppelin covers but 'Cowards.com' is a howling beast, 'You Can't Kill Us All' a raw-throated sing-along, and one new song, newer even than comeback record ‘Ox’ and due out on an EP soon, sounds like one of the best the band have ever written.

That doesn’t mean it’s a pretty set, not once, but it does snarl, roar, and push on relentlessly. And instead of old dudes going through the motions, Coalesce play together, feeding off a crowd that could listen to them play over and over and over again, and they play like goddamn champs. Stunning.

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