LIVE: Wovenhand / Emma Ruth Rundle @ The Dome, London

By Glen Bushell

Californian label, Sargent House has been responsible for a lot of things over the last few years, but mainly, for discovering and pushing some of the most innovative and talented artists. More often than not, the bands on the label will tour together, and when they come to town, you know something special is about to happen.

This particularly cold October night in London couldn’t be a more fitting backdrop for the dark mood of Wovenhand. Always defying genre standards, and with a solid back catalogue of brooding tracks, this one-off headline performance in support of their new album, ‘Star Treatment’, has all the makings of a historic show.

Before that, we are treated to Emma Ruth Rundle, making her first solo appearance in London. While known for being a part of the crushing post-rock/doom influenced band, Marriages, her latest solo album, ‘Marked For Death’ is every bit as potent and powerful. Seeing these songs come to life on stage is quite simply, magical.

Performing with just her voice and an acoustic guitar for the majority of her set, the fragility of her art stirs the soul. Each song is reconstructed, with ‘Protection’ and ‘Hand Of God’ reduced to a more vulnerable state. She silences the room to the point of being able to hear a pin drop, drawing the swelling crowd in with every syllable. Earlier tracks such as ‘Arms I know So Well’, and a beautiful rendition of ‘Run Forever’ are enchanting, before she is joined by a weeping violin to bring the house down with ‘Marked For Death’.

Wovenhand are a far more raucous prospect, hitting the stage with ‘The Hired Hand’, straight into ‘Hiss’. David Eugene Edwards is every bit the rock star, ripping through the gritty riffs that make up the backbone of Wovenhand’s dirty swagger. The songs sounds larger than life in the live arena, and the adoring throng in front of the stage lap every second of it up. From the slower ‘Obdurate Obscura’, to the mesmerising dissonance of ‘Swaying Reed’, this band knows how to command an audience.

While Wovenhand evidently want to make the most of this one-off show, the set wanes towards the latter half. With a near two-hour slot, it begins to lose its impact, and doesn’t reflect the gravitas of the situation. However, things pick back up for the encore. The monolithic, doom-laden ‘King O King’, which is played with earth-shattering ferocity, and the electricity of ‘Come Brave’ makes the last two hours feel like a countdown to the final five minutes.

Regardless of the slight dip in Wovenhand’s set, tonight was indeed as special as it threatened to be on paper. Two very different acts, both with a their own unique artistic flair. It showcased the endless possibilities that music can bring, and that Sargent House continues to unearth the most interesting music, deserving of the proper attention.