Growing up, I didn’t want to be Kurt Cobain or either Gallagher brother. I wanted to be Grady Avenell. The gravel throated mountain of intensity left before I had a chance to see them live, but now he is back, as Will Haven came to play a one-off, two hour set. It wouldn’t be too harsh to say that new album Voir Dire marks a kind of ‘come back.’ The Hierophant wasn’t bad per se, but Will Haven without Grady wasn’t Will Haven. His return meant a return to form, as far as the teenager in my head saw it.
Their oppressively bleak sound on record transfers well to the stage, we’re treated to a standing wave of sound, a tsunami. Apart from an occasional well-timed, atmospherically bleak interlude the intensity does not flag the noise does not abate as they move from new material before playing the ‘hits.’ At mid-point Carpe Diem back to back with Fresno turns the entire room in to a circle pit. The painfully slow rhythms only add to the grinding desolation of the set. Counterintuitively everyone here is having a whale of a time, especially new bassist, Chris Fehn of Slipknot. They are all visibly enjoying themselves, and the crowd feeds of this energy.
Speak to your average Joe about ‘dark’ heavy rock they’ll point to stuff like Norwegian Black metal but that always seemed a bit pantomime to me. Will Haven don’t go for theatrics, these guys play in front of footage from a graveyard, eerie weatherworn stone angels peer down on to the audience, shots linger on crucifixes overgrown with weeds and with increasing regularity crime scene photos, the victims of 1940s and 1950s shoot outs flash up. Not melodrama, the actual bloody aftermath of shootouts. Will Haven don’t wear face paint, leather trousers or studded elbow pads. These guys sound like a lake being dredged for bodies.
Will Haven tore it to pieces at the O2 Islington Academy on 11/11/2011. Their new album Voir Dire is available here.
This post is a Saint Uffido original!