Ithaca step out in support of their stupendously good second LP, They Fear Us.
They Fear Us (our review) is destined to be one of the finest musical moments of 2022. Whilst relatively new, the songs are instant and Ithaca show that they are destined to bludgeon many an audience with their growing arsenal of songs.
Up first on a decidedly muggy night in Manchester were local five piece, Lure In. Throughout a short set the band rattled through songs from their catalogue as well as plenty of cuts from their unreleased EP because, according to the band, ‘no one will have heard us before so it doesn’t matter!’
What does matter is that those in attendance will have definitely heard of Lure In, now. Their confidence oozed from the stage as they flailed, two stepped and smashed their instruments around. If it wasn’t enough that they had confidence from the stage, they threw themselves at the crowd; or rather singer (Cameron) and bassist (Jonny) did. On several occasions they stalked the growing masses making sure that their lure wasn’t missed. Lure In’s set was met with rapturous applause at the end. A blend of various hard genres blended well throughout the set and the band really did themselves no harm with what they achieved.
To further warm punters lug’oles, Pupil Slicer took to the stage and immediately got to work. The band have seen their profile rise quite quickly amongst the scene – the name of the band catches the eye and musically, they range from the ultra tight to the completely free form. Their debut album, Mirrors, was released on Prosthetic Records in 2021, and the band feels like they’re just getting properly started after the lockdown roadblock.
‘What the fucks up Manchester?’ asks singer Katie Davies as the band open up their furious set. As songs pass, the maniacal look in singers eyes as she spouts the lyrics is terrifying. Her range of growls and shrieks make for an uncompromising listen; harsh is an understatement. To augment the vocal sound, Luke Fabian, bassist, adds a more guttural end to the harmony.
Many of the songs in the bands repertoire touch on quite hefty topics. Worthless, Wounds Upon My Skin and Stabbing Spiders give you a little flavour of what you could be served with.
Plenty of shapes are thrown on stage in amongst frenetic strobes. Strobes so bright, the band take to wearing sunglasses…what’s not to like? Play the gnarliest grindcore/mathcore, but make it cool! Whilst there is an abundance of breakneck riffing, blistering tempos and black vocals, the band still find time for doomy breakdowns and discordant instrument clashes.
Like Lure In, the action moves from the stage to the crowd; Katie gets into the crowd and whips up more of a frenzy. She encourages more movement from the crowd at which the guys from Lure In oblige. A newer cut that makes the set is Fair Fight, and latest single, Thermal Runaway, also makes an appearance. Not for the last time in proceedings, social affairs are mentioned. Shouts to Ukraine and for Trans Rights show the bands moral compass.
Pupil Slicer are a tasty prospect. Unflinching and dastardly, they will certainly be welcoming many more to the slice club as their dark star continues to grow. An ability to throw wickedly technical sections into more simple proceedings show that the band are not just chancers – they have a lot of talent and hopefully, plenty more records in them.
On band riding a wave off the back of their second album is Ithaca. They recently had an interview published in The Guardian (read here) discussing their tough history and their hopes for diversity and equality in metal. Before Fluorescent in the set, the band share these sentiments along with a heavy dose of thanks to the crowd and people who have supported the band.
Echoing the cover of They Fear Us, Ithaca a resplendently dressed in white with singer, Djamila Boden Azzouz, dressed in a sort of pink 80’s tutu’d get up. ‘It’s a bit hot…I think I’m a bit overdressed,’ states Azzouz after the first couple of tracks in the set; In The Way and The Future Says Thank You. Both are frenetic and show the way that Ithaca have grown but the latter has a huge breakdown in the middle which endears them fully to the crowd. It also showcases for the first time, the vocal talent of Azzouz on the mic. Her ability to move between genuinely terrifying shrieks to absolutely gorgeous harmony is something to behold.
A few awkward moments in-between songs are encountered as the band tune between songs. ‘You’d think…as a society…we’d have moved beyond tuning for each song,’ comes the comment from the stage. The humour shows the band gradually relaxing into their set.
‘Has anybody got the album? What do you think? Mid?’ asks guitarist Sam Chetan-Welsh. ‘7.3 on Pitchfork,’ is the witty retort from the crowd. FYI, Ithaca holds a 7.0 rating for their debut record; The Language Of Injury. So far, they don’t seem to have rated They Fear Us. More fool them. Chetan-Welsh is very well spoken and moves between sincerity in speaking between songs, to possessed guitarist during them. His eyes scour the crowd for action. His technical licks in Cremation Party show the palleted colours he brings to the huge sound.
In addition to Chetan-Welsh and Azzouz on stage right, Dom Moss throws his bass around with reckless abandon. The perilous swinging nearly causes injury to Will Sweet on guitar, such is the tight space for a five piece at The Deaf Institute. Sweet, like Chetan-Welsh, has a laser eyed stare and makes his connection strongly with the fervent crowd.
Camera Eats First gets one of its first airings; a slightly clunky start grows into a humungous beast of a track. Like many of the tracks on They Fear Us, these songs are destined to be Ithaca’s calling card. The whole songs sounds brilliant live and when the band get this polished up, expect them to ruffle more than a few feathers.
The aforementioned Fluorescent sees a sweltering room filled with dry ice and another great crowd response to the song. As the band air the title track of their new album. there is a massive energy in the room. Arms are raised and people are already singing along. There is thundering bass and a great solo in the song; another song that is destined to be a staple of the band’s set.
Youth Vs Wisdom from the debut LP sees an ever increasing pit that consumes nearly the whole floor of The Deaf Institute. This is a full on rager and topped off with Impulse Crush from the same record, the band are triumphant.
Ithaca are a genuinely vital band. Their sound, their message, their aesthetic; it is all helping reshape a wheel that in some cases may have become stagnant. As far as Manchester is concerned, consider this an ‘I was there’ gig as it was truly tremendous. Ithaca are only going from strength to strength; get involved – you won’t regret it.
You can catch the band, with Pupil Slicer, over the next week:
04.08 Boston Music Rooms, London UK
05.08 The Victoria, Birmingham UK
06.08 Garage Attic, Glasgow UK
07.08 Rough Trade in-store, Nottingham UK
08.08 Rough Trade in-store, Bristol UK
You can get tickets here.
Categories: Live Reviews