My Vitriol/Magic Mountain – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club – 9 November 2017 Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Friday, 17 November 2017 04:20

It seems every Brit pop and indie rock band from the turn of the century is reforming and gigging right now. What comes around goes around, right? And what a great time it was for music in general back then, whether you were listening to Radio One or still rooting through Kerrang! for the coolest underground music.


My Vitriol tour poster


You may or not remember My Vitriol. The London based nu gaze rockers (God don’t you hate all these sub genres?), toured with the likes of The Manics and Feeder back in the day. ‘Finelines’, their debut album released in 2001, was a master class of angular guitars and lazy harmonies that, to these ears, married the sounds of The Smashing Pumpkins and The Posies. They even chalked up a couple of Top 40 singles and appeared on Top Of The Pops.


And then, as if by magic, they disappeared, like many before and after them. I’d not heard ‘Finelines’ in probably 15 years. It is one of those forgotten albums that should not stay hidden on a dusty shelf and digging into the CD and having it on heavy rotation I forgot how damn fine it is. Shit, how did this band only release one album? Over the years they have appeared sporadically for gigs and last year released the fan-only album ‘Secret Sessions’.


To promote that album, a co-headline tour with Texas alt-rockers And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead was announced. I love that band, always great live: this was a pairing not to be missed. Then a week or so before the tour ...Trail Of The Dead pulled out due to immigration issues, which is a real shame as to be honest they were the main draw for me. But hell, surely it’ll still be worth the drive over to Leeds to see My Vitriol for the first time.


Magic Mountain Facebook header


Local band Magic Mountain are a late replacement for ...Trail Of The Dead. The Leeds-based three-piece band feature Pulled Apart By Horses singer Tom Hudson on bass and vocals. They play a tripped out set of bludgeoning rifforama, their skinny silhouettes cutting through the heavy mix of dry ice and ambient light that fills the stage.


They claim to be purveyors of fuzz and that’s a pretty apt description. The fuzzed up, desert rock riffs courtesy of Lins Wilson and the powerhouse drums of Nestor Matthews are a fine match, intense and tripped out. I’m sure they did a Kings Of Leon song though, or was it a Mudhoney song? Could’ve been neither! Check out single ‘Zodiac’ for a fine example of their sludgy noise.


If you are a regular attendee at My Vitriol shows, all is not as it usually seems up there on this tour. The band are not bringing their usual set up out on tour for several reasons. For one, they are a three-piece band right now, as bassist Tatia Starkey is on maternity leave. Two guitars and basslines triggered by the drummer I believe. For two, singer/guitarist Som Wardner was recently diagnosed with Tinnitus and advised not to tour. So, to protect his hearing and still put on a show, the band have compromised and opted not to use amplifiers or an acoustic drum kit for this run of shows.


My Vitriol


So, with drummer Ravi perched behind an electronic kit, an Apple Mac beside him, Som and fellow guitarist Seth take to the stage with midi guitars plugged straight into the PA to control the sound levels, I presume. Out front the sound through the PA is still massive. The drums crystal clear and powerful and the effect-ridden guitars of the duo up front fill the room.


‘It’s So Damn Easy’ from last year’s ‘Secret Sessions’ sounds killer, as Som and Seth stomp on a myriad of pedals to get the desired effects. But it’s the old stuff that does it for me. The gentle opening strum of ‘Cemented Shoes’ leads into that massive riff as it builds nicely to that harmony filled chorus. Killer tune, killer delivery.


“How long has it been, Leeds?” shouts Som… yeah, 15 years dude. Oh, the nostalgia and oh, how time flies. To be honest the years have been good to the band. And while they may have out-grown the skinny tees and baggy jeans of the early 2000s and seem to have opted for whatever was lying on the floor that morning, the songs speak for themselves. While they are not the most animated live act, the songs speak volumes and the power and energy of the songs pretty much do the business.


Their dark, logo-emblazoned backdrop covers the now iconic Brudenell brick wall and the heavy use of strobe lighting and constant dry ice compliments the atmospheric soundscapes the band create. While the newer, more unfamiliar material sounds good, it’s the material from that debut album that was always going to win the day, and they save the best for last. The instrumental ‘Alpha Waves’ segues into the brilliant uplifting single ‘Always Your Way’ and all is good in the world again, as the crowd sing-along like the last 15 years never happened.


There’s no encore, they bow out with the stunning instrumental ‘Tongue Tied’. Tight as fuck drums play out, as the twin guitars weave effect-ridden riffs and solos at ease, it takes you up and brings you down again on a tripped-out, musical journey. The song reaches its finale and the two guitarists down their instruments on their pedals and exit with a wave as a wall of white noise builds... job done.


Both bands were great tonight, and the compromises My Vitriol have made seemed to pay off. While this tour is dubbed the ‘Secret Sessions Tour’, The London show will see them play ‘Finelines’ in its entirety, now that is a show not to be missed. Let’s hope this resurgence produces more music and more live dates from an extremely underrated band.


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