Date: February 19th 2019
Venue: The Black Heart, London
Support: Chaos Reigns / Calligram / Sharkteeth Grinder
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Norwegian blackened hardcore merchants Attan have attracted much praise from everyone who’s heard their debut full-length, ‘End Of’, and tonight sees them on the London leg of their headline tour. The Black Heart is slightly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Camden, but a room above a pub in a hidden part of the city is definitely a more intriguing gig venue than most.
First up are London newcomers Chaos Reigns , and it’s a shame that the venue is sparse at this point in time, but this doesn’t stop them from upping the ante. ‘Big Beat Manifesto’ has a very Gallows-esque punk rock energy to it, and the occasional half-time sections provide even more bite.
The fire alarm goes off during the set very briefly, but thankfully we’re not evacuated from the building. Singer Dan Tolley moves around the room, putting his arm around crowd members before moving a crash cymbal from the drum kit into the crowd and inviting people to give it a whack. They certainly know how to engage in audience participation, and they deserve to play to much more people next time round.
The venue thankfully fills up a little more for Calligram . Before the band start, the microphone is offstage and in the audience and, after a rumbling introduction, we’re greeted with a wave of blast beats, powerviolence-inspired sections, and banshee-like vocal howls, with the band making full use of the room.
The maniacal, ferocious laughs that are sometimes present on the records also make their way into the set. In its second half, they place more reliance on the slower end of things, which propels the set greatly. Calligram are slowly but surely revealing that they’re one of the promising acts in UK hardcore at the moment, especially at such an early stage in their career. There are some doom-influenced build-up sections that, if expanded upon in the future, they could be a true force to be reckoned with.
Having recently played alongside Palm Reader, Corby’s Sharkteeth Grinder  are starting to make a name for themselves, with their live ‘exhibitions’ being quite a spectacle. With just a bass guitar, drums, and vocals, they certainly prove that less can indeed be more. This is clearly a medium of catharsis for vocalist Bobbo Haldane, who ventures into every corner of the room – the stage is an illusory concept.
There’s no denying the ferocity of their performance, but in spite of the The Dillinger Escape Plan-esque stabby sections that emerge at times, their brand of hardcore feels a little simplistic, and the over-reliance on blunt force begins to wear thin after a while. Musically, there isn’t really a great deal to take away from this, but their live show is certainly to be watched, and they’ve certainly inspired a mosh pit down the front. If you miss the chaos and abandon of Heck, this band may tickle your fancy.
After a showcase of the new blood, it’s time for the main attraction. Attan  waste no time getting us underway with a blistering attack of an opener in the form of ‘The Burning Bush Will Not Be Televised’. Throughout this song, and indeed the majority of their set, the mechanical rhythms and the thundering double kick pedals completely dominate the room. ‘Feed The Primates’ is another haphazard number that Converge would certainly be proud of.
Still, there’s a lot more to Attan than just speed and chaos for the sake of it. The chiming guitar into at the start of ‘Catalyst Divine’ helps to bring some atmosphere, showing that they have multiple strings to their bow already. This also proves that when the blackened hardcore sections return again, they’re even more devastating.
Attan are arguably at their strongest when the Mastodon influence creeps in and they slow it down, such as the intro of ‘On Hands And Knees’, during which vocalist Remi Semshaug Langseth invites people to “shuffle”, which certainly happens to say the least. Also, bassist Fritz Pettersen‘s ferocious mid-range growls in ‘Black Liquid Marrow’ sounding just as powerful as they do on record, providing a nice contrast to Langseth‘s more high-pitched shrieks.
You can’t help but feel that Attan could have played to more people tonight, and it doesn’t help that Decapitated are also playing just a short tube journey away. Nevertheless, the experience of Attan‘s live show more than matches the pummelling ferocity of their records.
Music graduate from City University, partial to almost anything with ‘post-‘ in the genre description.