Review by Natalie Zed; Photos by Adam Wills
Kosmograd are a Toronto, ON band that I’ve wanted to catch for a long time,and yet, through a series of unfortunate events, have never managed to. This show thankfully put an end to this unfortunate streak and I finally witnessed what I was missing. Their music is heartbreaking. Their riffs possess an urgent, yearning quality that snagged hooks into the meat of my heart. Drummer Phil Miller is not a monster behind the kit, but a surgeon, hitting with an organic precision that’s closer to a heartbeat than mechanical noise. I was expecting something extraterrestrial from them, something specific. Instead, I was surprised by their emotional timbre and humanity. Kosmograd are very human monsters. They played a respectfully short set, mindful of their place as an opening band, and left me unexpectedly moved.
Another Toronto, ON band, Titan, filled the next slot. They come across like a surrealist painting of a heavy band: fractured, fragmented and twisted out of shape. Their songs have excellent parts, moments that would grab me with their gut-shuddering depth. But then something would shift, move away, morph into something different without drawing me along. I spent their set being alternately totally into it and totally outside of it, waiting for another moment to capture me. They have strange and heavy nailed; I would love to see them develop consistency.
The first touring band, Withered, immediately made things dirtier and uglier. If Kosmograd are Frankenstein’s monster — ugliness longing for beauty —and Titan are a zombie — brutal but unfocused horror — Withered are a supernatural serial killer. Their sound marries a screeching bleakness with a dark undercurrent of bloodlust — there is no doubt that these musicians take great pleasure in the lurching horror they’ve created. Of all the influences they claim, I can see the stain of the Marquis de Sade and Aleister Crowley most clearly. They know exactly what they are doing; they know exactly how much it’s going to hurt; and they’re going to enjoy it.
Finally, exhausted and battered, it was time for Krallice. This was my third time seeing this extraordinary black metal band, first in Toronto, on the ill-fated tour with Ludicra, and then later with Bloody Panda and Portal in Buffalo. My expectations were astronomically high, and they didn’t disappoint. They were celebrating the release of their newest album, the immense and towering Diotima, and the energy behind that colossal release translated into their performance. Krallice play like a thunderstorm: merciless and drenching, with a primal, electrical force. There was an extra edge to their performance this night, however, as though each raindrop in that metaphorical storm was tipped with a feather-thin blade. Colin Marston is as indefatigable a guitar player as Mick Barr is a vocalist, both managing to wrench their instruments into producing agonizingly beautiful sounds.
I left before the end of their set, completely worn out, not sure if staying would mean I would drown or bleed to death.