Released earlier this year, Texan trio True Widow’s As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth debuted their awesome blend of slow-core, shoegaze and sludge to UK audiences. The songs recalled a fantastic range of late 80s/early 90s alternative rock like Codeine, Low, My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth, but all shot through with a stoner-like heaviness: the moods never too oppressive though never too light, often displaying melody and harmony but always with an edge of darkness and landscape of fuzz underneath. As the slow pace of the material is a major part of their appeal it was great to hear As High…’s tracks were played even slower at the Macbeth. Resisting any temptation to rock them up the band crawled through songs from the album including standout “NH”, “Boaz” and opener “Jackyl”. The three-piece filled the small pub with their bass and fuzz-heavy sound, at many points making the situation feel a whole lot more expansive as the instrumental sections on lengthy efforts like “Blooden Horse” and “Boaz” developed, with bass and guitar pickings interweaving in sometimes similar tonal territory over the steady beats into reverb-drenched and carefully reserved solo lines. The group hit consistent grooves, generally deep and doomy, though on single “Skull Eyes” simultaneously offering a twee pop edge, and altogether the fairly long set full of slow songs seemed to fly by.
Support came from two bands who attacked rock with heavy guitars and electronics. Openers Lasers From Atlantis laid down slab after slab of concrete heavy doom riffs, with guitar lines bolstered by twin synth attack adding a whole load of noise and bass over emphatic drumming. Though perhaps not wowing with new ideas they were tight and effective and much more engaging than Teeth of the Sea who promised much but never quite delivered. On record their blend of krautrock, art-rock and soundscapey post-rock sounds interesting but like it should be better live, though live it sounded better on record. There were moments of power that sucked you in but frequently the lack of a driving rhythm section was frustrating. The bass lines were just not bassy enough to anchor the songs’ journeying treble-heavy instruments and the beats never quite kicked in as you’d want. The repetition of an idea without a direct percussive drive can give a great build of tension and an almost positive frustration (whether there is an eventual release into a beat or whether it actually just releases into silence) but the band’s final tracks offered in the one, a repetition on the same level without any kind of build for far too long and in the other, a swell building to the most disappointing of weak, trebly electronic beats. A bit annoying really.