Crusades – Nice ‘N’ Sleazy, Glasgow – 19/6/12

Posted: 21/06/2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

There’s a scene in the pilot episode of The Sopranos where Tony confides in Dr Melfi that he feels it best “to be in on something from the ground floor.” That line holds particular resonance in the context of this long overdue feature on the currently ubiquitous Glasgow outfit known as Crusades.

Imagine, if you will, that you first became aware of Crusades when you noticed they were sharing a bill with The Darien Venture in The Captain’s Rest at the beginning of April. Imagine you were at this gig and toyed with the idea of reviewing this early performance. Then imagine that an unfortuate coupling of youthful excitement and contraband tonic wine intervened, leaving you present in body, but not quite in mind, and you consequently failed to pay the attention required to complete such a heady feat of wordsmanship.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and you’re now relieving yourself in a Bar Bloc toilet cubicle when your eyes wander to your immediate left and you’re greeted with the sight of a familiar moniker emblazoned above a crudely scrawled iron cross:

Your first reaction is to peruse the resultant graffitied argument about the – most likely misconstrued – racist overtones of the etching and your high-tops are very nearly doused in your own urine as derisive laughter ripples forth, inspired by the sheer redundancy of directing moral outrage at something daubed on a toilet wall.

However, when the mirth generated by this exericse in futility eventually subsides, it strikes you that you’ve missed a chance to be in on the ground floor here…

The fact that these guys have only been gigging since March and already have some guerrilla toilet promotion to commend them suggests that it’s too late to tip them as the next big thing. There is also the very real concern that they have now been too hyped up to be viewed from a truly impartial standpoint and that the expectations that have already amassed can only lead to disappointment.

It is what it is, however, and you decide to strap on a pair and head to the delightfully dilapidated basement dive that is Nice ‘N’ Sleazy for their next gig.

Crusades are opening tonight’s bill and their early starting time finds them sitting around a table in front of the stage, in a room that is close to deserted, with five minutes left until they’re due to perform.

Possibly as a result of this disappointing initial turnout, the evening’s itinerary is delayed slightly and a slightly more respectable crowd has amassed by the time the guys have taken the stage and offered “We’re Crusades!” as their formal introduction.

A cacophony of feedback heralds the beginning of their set and a throng of bodies dutifully, almost instinctively, surge forward and arrange themselves in what quickly becomes an auditory firing line as the basis for Crusades’ burgeoning reputation for seismic volume is made abundantly clear. Sonically, the four-piece resemble self-titled era Alexisonfire, except with vocals that inescapably resemble those belonging to Billy Talent’s Ben Kowalewicz and an aggression and urgency more reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan.

Visually, though, Crusades are something of an anomaly. The Dillinger comparison can be extended to the physique of their heavily-tattooed frontman, who cuts an intimidating figure as he finger taps and screeches his way through what is devastatingly brutal opening salvo. Supporting this aggressive stance, the guitarist – who seems the most volatile of the bunch – positively rockets around the stage for the duration of the song. On the other hand, sharing a stage with this frantic coupling, drummer and bassist seem to favour much more reserved personas and keep their movement levels fairly moderate at first.

This isn’t quite the instant all-out explosion initially expected and this is where those insidious expectations begin to rear their ugly head and the worries begin to set in.

Have they become lacklustre?

Is that golden period of innocent enthusiasm and unbridled aggression already over?

Are they becoming too full of themselves and feeling a sting of indignation at being on first?

Mercifully, these concerns prove to be unfounded as the boys’ stride seems to ride in on the wave of tonight’s first breakdown, which proves to be the first of many. It is the pristine execution of these insanely heavy moments that show how strikingly tight and well-rehearsed the outfit are and, by the time they near the end of this first number, the room is positively shaking.

As they take a second to tune up between the first two songs, they address what they label “a bit of a crazy start” and there is a palpable hope that this is not a sign that they’re about to tone anything down.

All such fears are instantly allayed as the second unnamed song proves to be shorter in length but definitely equal in violence. It is now clear that those in search of regular helpings of melody are in the wrong place entirely. The word “pummel” seems to flash relentlessly across the field of subliminal vision throughout the set, as Crusades proceed to crank up the aggression and fire forth their wonderfully cathartic post hardcore assault.

Although the majority of their material feels quite similar, this isn’t necessarily a negative in itself. Their output is less about variety and more concerned with sheer ferocity and, with this considered, a little more vigour from the rhythm section could only serve to further enhance the live experience. To be fair, though, they are at a very young stage in their development as a band and it is perfectly plausible that the members in question have opted to focus on cementing their groove before they start to segue into the ferocious kinetics exhibited by their guitarist. There is certainly no question that everyone is pulling their weight musically.

As a concise but captivating five-song set comes to an abrupt close, it becomes clear just how unfounded any initial concerns were and just how unfair it perhaps was to arrive at a gig expecting an opening act to ignite from the first chord. As it was, the boys positively combusted from the second song onwards and this stands as testament to the sheer force that is Crusades.

It all just adds to the regret of not having paid more attention to that Captain’s Rest performance…

Crusades on Facebook

Listen to Crusades

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