INDOMITABLE AND INIMITABLE: THOU LIVE AT DÜRER KERT, BUDAPEST
It’s not every day you get the change to travel to another country. There are some who have made it their life’s work to journey into the foreign and unknown and tell tales about it, but most of us can only travel so much with what little money we have. I recently had the chance to visit Budapest, the beautiful capital of Hungary, teeming with historical and artistic importance and rich in its gastronomical offerings. From the House of Terror Museum to the Hungarian National Gallery and all the architectonic in-betweens, there is something for everyone in the city. But travelling abroad – especially so far -, also means having the opportunity of catching bands that don’t normally visit our own country. One such band is Thou, the metamorphic group from Baton Rouge, Lousiana, that has never visited Portugal and, curiously enough, were on the verge of performing in Budapest for the first time on this past July 27th. As an avid fan of the band and their impressive discography, you can imagine this was going to be special on many levels. But before Thou even graced the stage of Dürer Kert’s Small Room – apart from their drummer, you will soon see why -, Budapest would have the tremendous opportunity of witnessing two other great bands as well.
The night, as it stands, started with a local Hungarian trio called HEGY. Translated from their mother tongue as “mountain”, the trio from Budapest live up to their moniker as their sound is a heavy combination of instrumental post-metal and noise rock, reminiscent of Russian Circles and Pelican. In fact, bassist Andras Rokusz was wearing a Russian Circles t-shirt that very night and that is no coincidence. Creating an atmosphere that was filled with complex melodies and spawned images of vast landscapes, the trio gave a solid performance and used the opportunity to play their brand-new song, “Hydra”, as well as a couple others from their small but impressive catalogue.
Next up, we had the grinding lunatics of Yautja, a band consisting of Thou’s drummer Tyler Coburn, as well as bassist Kayhan Vaziri and guitarist Shibby Poole from Nameless Cults. For the uninitiated, Yautja is the name given to the alien species from the Predator franchise and much like their fictional counterparts, the band are a deadly life form, mixing grind and sludge in a blender and spewing aggression and violence in a chaotic but calculated form, which says a lot about the musicians behind the band. Mainly playing themes from their debut LP, Songs of Descent, the trio delivered rapid fire rhythms and crushing tonalities, pulverizing every single soul inside the Small Room. I was instantly reminded of the havoc that bands like Celeste and Sumac employ with their music and if you are a fan of those bands, you will certainly love Yautja. As their quick and destructive set ended and without a hint of rest, Tyler went from the stage straight to the merch stand to meet some fans before he had to come back on again for the headliners.
Explaining what Thou have done for the underground metal scene would require a lot of time and a much bigger article than this. But in short, these are the guys that are pushing the boundaries of sludge/doom and the whole DIY scene. Of course, calling them simply a sludge metal band isn’t doing them any justice, as their genre of music is much more fluid than just screaming to a mic to the sound of screeching guitars. They are not an easy band to catch live either – at least, if you are not leaving in the States -, as their visits to Europe are sporadic at best. As mentioned in the beginning of this live report, this was to be their first time in Budapest, so the expectations were really high. And they were absolutely met.
As the first chords of “Here I Stand Head in Hand” started to be heard, you could see a bright glimmer in the eyes of the audience, as something unique was about to be witnessed. While most of the band was inconspicuous during their entire performance, demonstrating smiles and signs of affections towards each other on occasion, vocalist Bryan Funck stood in front of the audience in an almost apathetic and catatonic state, screaming his lungs out with seemingly no effort, while staring deeply into the eyes of everyone present as a fairly sedated lunatic would. Apart from the aforementioned song and a couple others, the set was constituted mainly of sounds from their latest full-length, Magus, like “Sovereign Self” and “The Changeling Price”, which echoed a sense of isolation and fatalism unlike I’d ever experienced. Still, before such potency and dreadful grandeur, I and everyone else could only move our heads accordingly and take in the sonic assault that would easily throw us against the walls, were we not using all of our strength to stay still.
About 45 minutes pass since beginning and end, which to some might be a hella of a short time for a headlining act to play, but you have to remember one thing: Thou are a band that is unlike any other. That small time frame is enough for them to show you what they are capable of, for they are indomitable and inimitable, a force to be reckoned with that transcends any classification and has to be witnessed to be fully understood. They are the bringers of pain and misery, the saviours of flesh and self. The Magus among us. And after such an intense and boundless experience, we faced the heavy rain and roaring thunders that made their presence known in the dark corners of Budapest, on our way back home.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Temesvári Levente, courtesy of RockStation