Deadly Circus Fire at The Black Heart, London - live review

Deadly Circus Fire team up with Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster for charity fundraiser

live shot
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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A charity show in aid of the Heavy Metal Truants, tonight’s bill promises to raise money for good causes, and also to raise awareness of two young British bands operating at the heavier end of the prog spectrum.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster have undergone two personnel changes since 2015’s excellent Wires/Dream\Wires album. Guitarist/vocalist Drew Vernon and bassist Tom Granica have recruited drummer Ben Wilsker and also second guitar player Andrea Longo.

The elegiac closing track on that album may mark this transition, but is not a wholly successful set opener. Passing probes the air hesitantly, oozing atmosphere with Vernon’s disembodied vocal and clean guitar motif. But it’s not until the instrumentals Murasame and Oko that the climate changes and the band fully hit their stride.

With obvious influences from Tool and Pelican, their dynamic post-rock begins to surge. Themes ebb from initial capitulation into ambient ghosts and return as sonic tsunami. This is mesmeric, deftly-crafted music on a par with Russian Circles.

Two brand new tracks close the set; one is another vocal song with guessthe- time-signature complexity. They whet the appetite for the next release from this exciting London outfit.

Deadly Circus Fire are also showing off a new line-up. Founding vocalist Adam Grant left in 2016. His diversity and range was never going to be easy to replace, so it’s all eyes and ears on new boy David Pear.

With only a month of rehearsals under his belt, this could prove a Herculean task. Appropriately, astride the stage monitors with flowing blond hair, Pear looks like he has stepped from the pages of Roman legend.

Leviathan, from the 2013 debut The King And The Bishop, puts him through his paces, alternating between clean baritone and gruff metal. Deadly Circus Fire are clearly in debt to Tool, but rebrand it as a more mercurial, lithe beast, as evidenced by the gymnastic shapes being thrown by bassist Mike Enort and guitarist Save Addario.

Rise Again and House Of Plagues combine Eastern modes and fistpumping, pummelling heaviness, while new song Shinigami Fall is the equal of these fan favourites. This is very strong material, and passionately performed, but there is one problem. The subtlety and intricacy of the recordings are lost in the room. This is an accomplished band, with songwriting-savvy maturity well beyond their two-album career. Victims of their own vision, they need to convey those intricacies that they capture so well in the studio in a live setting. Let’s hope their continued rise allows that to happen soon.