Thrice + Refused + Gouge Away @ Nottingham Rock City on 1st November 2019

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When you spot a guitarist sporting a Godflesh T-shirt you just know a band are gonna be good and Florida’s Gouge Away don’t disappoint. Incorporating elements of emo and grunge into their sound while retaining a hardcore punch they are, along with bands like Drug Church, pushing the genre into new territories. Like the cast of Fraggle Rock the band are a riotous blur of sound and sonics but beneath the musical fury their songs are saturated with groove and swing which makes them strangely memorable. With an effervescent vocalist and a hard hitting drummer they’re a likeable bunch and it seems fitting their set ends with a wall of glorious feedback.

Hailing from Umeå in northern Sweden Refused set the template for the modern DIY lifestyle and their classic album The Shape of Punk to Come still sounds relevant decades later. Attired all in black like a gang of anarchist revolutionaries the band hit the stage and launch into (appropriately enough) ‘REV001’. Still led by irrepressible vocalist Denis Lyxzén, who’s a whirling dervish constantly jumping, high kicking and swinging the mic, it’s obvious Refused haven’t come to take prisoners as ‘Violent Reaction’ and ‘Worms of the Senses’ are unleashed in quick succession. Powered by a righteous indignation ‘Coup d’état’ finds Denis venturing into the crowd and singing from the mixing desk while incorporating a few bars of Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood into ‘Malfire’ causes and already volatile pit to explode. Like Crass only built for the 21st Century Refused are ripping up the rule book but still remain relevant as their latest album War Music testifies. ‘Damaged III’ from that album simply slays as set closers ‘Economy of Death’ and ‘New Noise’ cap a full hour of fury.

Garnered something of a heroes reception Thrice repay the accolades by launching into ‘Only Us’ and by the time we reach second track, ‘Image of the Invisible’ the whole venue can be found singing along. While the Refused are a hard act for anyone to follow Thrice rise to the challenge by taking a more measured approach. Now in their 21st year evidence a tightness that only comes from years of playing together whilst their close vocal harmonies are simply exquisite. Not wasting a single moment they deliver banger after banger as ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘The Arsonist’ excite an already ecstatic crowd. ‘Red Sky’ is delivered with a huge sound that captures the enormity of a fiery sunset then ‘Double Speak’ manages to be at once brutally heavy while also shimmering with an ethereal beauty. The only real complaint you can make is that, at 60 minutes, Thrice’s set is too short but closing salvo’s ‘The Earth Will Shake’ and ‘Beyond the Pines’ more than compensate.

Reviewed by Peter Dennis.

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