Botch were brilliant. Sure, they sold few records and fizzled away rather than went out with a bang but they will always be standard bearers of smart, independent heaviness and will inspire a new band every day forever whether they like it or not. So to say that it’s good to have Botch frontman Dave Verellen back is an understatement. In fact as the dude opens his mouth and screams the first words of his new band’s debut London show, it feels like the last five years never happened, t-shirts and hair never scored a record deal, and hardcore is just as vital as used to be.
Before Narrows set about saving a genre though, Throats (just one of those bands with Botch in their influences list) throw down hard. And despite being frustratingly young it feels like they’re just inches (or a debut album) away from making the vital transition from angry boys to a black-hearted hate-fuelled expert outfit set to kill. Their weapons are relentless heaviness, big riffs, inhuman barks and ferocious fuck-you songs and very soon they’ll come for you.
Narrows are already here though- amps hissing, feedback flying, and, despite claiming that he’s forgotten to do this kind of thing, frontman stalking the stage like the good ol’ days. And Narrows is much more than Verellen too- alumni of Some Girls, Unbroken, These Arms Are Snakes and Tropics on stage not just making up the numbers but tying together the likes of ‘Chambered’ and the superbly spiky ‘Newly Restored’ with style and skill. It’s not Botch- it’s less like their rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth and more like a grimy, bloodied-gum pitbull’s maw- but it doesn’t feel like a competition anyway. It feels like hardcore punk done exactly right.
It all could have finished completely toothless though as a closing ‘Life Vests Float, Kids Don’t’ is crippled by a power cut but instead of looking embarrassed and sloping off, Verellen (“we knew something was going to go wrong”) just keeps screaming and screaming and finishes the song in the most gloriously gruesome acapella. It turns out to be the best, most dangerous and alive, moment of the night.
Botch were brilliant but their days were numbered, Narrows may be old dogs but they employ old tricks with vicious vigour and sound like they’re never going to let go.
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