Blasting into Fear of Flying, Wot Gorilla? grab the audience’s attention with a flurry of notes, vocal yelps and angular guitar figures cut to big alt rock hooks…
There are echoes of Dillinger Escape Plan, Oceansize and any number of leftfield heroes in their rapidfire fretboard wizardry, but it’s the post-hardcore vocal stylings of frontman Matt Haigh that really make them stand out in an otherwise largely instrumental scene.
“Was that the engines cutting out/Or something much worse than that?” he sings over sharp, double-stop chords - it’s a chorus Jim, but not as we know it. A second chorus? No, that’s more than enough for one song.
WG? have been away a while, having shed their original drummer, and also dropped down to a three-piece after debut LP Kebnekaise. A recent compilation of UK math and post-rock bands featured the WG? track Skiddaw, easily the album’s highlight. This gets a particularly warm reception, marking as it does the band’s return to more regular live shows and the ramping up toward a new release cycle.
The uninitiated in some cases are a little taken aback; from their name and unassuming appearance, the amount of noise they generate is nothing if not a surprise, and the technical dexterity with which words are spat and riffs thrown signals them as masters of their genre.
Body Hound take the math rock rulebook, shoot it full of classic prog guitar figures which recall King Crimson, Rush or Steve Howe, and serve with a garnish of stoner groove without the slack tempo or low beats-per-minute.
Given that members hail previously from math metal genre-blenders Rolo Tomassi, this capriciousness should come as no surprise, but it’s their ability to blend these disparate elements into one entirely coherent, unique and punishingly heavy brew that really sets them apart. When the ending riff from Void, possibly the highlight of the evening, kicks in, nobody in the venue is in any doubt that these boys mean business.
The band released their debut mini album Rhombus Now last year, and have been slowly building momentum - and a cult following - behind it, topping their largely word-of-mouth success with a set at this year’s ArcTanGent festival that was, by all accounts, a highlight of the weekend.
Guitarists Joseph Nicholson and Calvin Rhodes shuffle around their part of the stage in a trance during songs like Systems while bassist Joseph Thorpe pulls elastic shapes across the stage; the crescendo sees all strings players cutting loose into a headbanging melee. Ryan Bright on drums has the unenviable task of keeping it all together, but with such strong band chemistry it’s not only clear how that is possible but also instantly why they’re such a compelling live act for an audience to watch.