LIVE: Exes / Death Rattles @ The Black Heart, London

By Ben Tipple

It’s hot. Not the type of heat that encourages you to grab those swimming shots and jump into the nearest body of water, but the type of hot that leaves you clinging to the closest fan – be it yours or not.

The majority, if not all, of The Black Heart’s punters are hanging around the alley which sits immediately outside the huge open-fronted pub. Even after the start time of opening act Death Rattles, everybody is soaking in enough of the alley’s shade before heading upstairs. Even the band.

This heat may have something to do with the disappointingly small number of people who do ultimately venture up the stairs. The expanse laying in front of Death Rattles does nothing to deter them from their wildly off-kilter onslaught of bluesy rock and roll hardcore, dominated by unnerving vocals and eerily spoken interludes.

There’s a real bite to Death Rattles’ sound – one that sees the drum-kit edge forward towards the front of the stage with each well-timed beat. Boasting a former member of the now defunct JCQ, the band appear to have adopted the visceral clash of genres, and emerged as something altogether more perverse.

Exes, supporting the release of their debut ‘Phantasmaboring’ LP, take to a sluggish start. Perhaps not the most energetic of performances, their distinctive sound harking back to mid-naughties math-rock with more than a little dose of hardcore still engulfs the room.

Continuing the gritty theme introduced by their opening act, Exes appear equally as raw as they are experienced. Their Narrows and Meet Me In St Louis heritage shines through, particularly in their heavier live sound, yet the intricacies of their compositions aren’t lost despite the sheer volume.

With it, Exes are beginning to channel a lost era, which may find itself found sooner than expected.