There’s no bombast in Humanfly’s transition between precise time-signature gymnastics and loose, outwardly flowing psychedelic rock. Call-and-response guitar solos melt into reverberant transcendence in seconds flat, while vocals arch overhead like bird calls swooping over a canyon; sometimes it’s not unlike the gut-punch grooves of Torche, while at others it’s closer to the blurry psych lights of White Hills. Nicely executed.
In direct contrast to this twisty ribbon of stylistic mutation, Amenra deliver a penetrative meditation on one solitary space and idea. Their sound works in grand curves of inevitability, stretching out like tidal waves over 10 minutes at a time – mammoth strides of 6/8 rhythm accompanied by smooth, swooping headbangs, spanning endlessly (and somehow, gracefully) through time like metal music’s own equivalent of tai chi. Plenty of tectonic downtuning to please the Cult Of Luna faithful here, threaded with a frostbitten isolation that feels more akin to Scandinavian Black Metal.
The pre-headliner break comes to a close with strobe lights twirling through dry ice, and synthesisers mapping out a voyage to the precipice of the universe. Who would have thought that a Cult Of Luna set would ever open up like a sci fi theatre production? Their latest album – based on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis – has allowed for a new atmospheric interplay to occur as part of their live experience: a tussle between nature and industry, stumbling from vacated factory control rooms to thick woodland and back again. “I: The Weapon” jerks aggressively between abrupt, squared-off riffs and the more spacious stretches of synthesiser and clean guitar, maintaining a momentum that feels (most appropriately) more sturdy and hydraulic than anything they’ve produced previous to Vertikal. And then there’s the likes of “Ghost Trail” and “Finland” – the former a creepy arboreal carnival ending in a blistering, ever-accelerating climax, the latter trudging down a hopelessly bleak path, housing a much weightier and more laboured momentum than on the new album. Not only do the Vertikal tracks comfortably keep pace with the quality and grandeur pouring out of their back-catalogue, but they blow open a completely new narrative that never before existing within the band’s work: the story of big, gloomy cityscapes sprouting ominously in the midst of rich stretches of organic matter.