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VMO at Devonshire Arms, London - live review

Japan’s rave/BM maniacs assault the senses

Violent Magic Orchestra: no console-ation for the weak-hearted

Post-hardcore only in the sense that a charred and irradiated wasteland is post-apocalyptic, CALLIGRAM’s [7] splicing of black metal’s DNA into their sonic assault only seems rational in context of the mindfuck to come. But amongst their juddering grooves and frontman Matteo Rizzardo’s caustic vocals, expansive surges take them into exhilarating new territory.

Despite featuring a member of the headline band, EXTREME PRECAUTIONS [7] are but a mere taster of what’s to come. Two guys in corpsepaint poise over laptops and mixing consoles from behind stroboscopic lights as they pump out captivatingly atmospheric industrial electronica riven through with scabrous noise and digitised blastbeats, and it’s a transition to the full-on, WTF mayhem of VMO [8], aka Violent Magic Orchestra, unleashing a rave/black metal mash-up from behind a gauze screen as swirling graphics give way to anatomical imagery. One member in Joker corpsepaint has the sole task of gurning at the audience, later climbing the stage rig and hanging upside down before crowdwalking while waving torches. The rest of the band, all in regulation VMO t-shirts, sway their heads in unison as critical faculties are erased and a strange form of euphoria sets in.

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.