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Within the bowels of Barden's Boudoir, sweat and other nameless substances stream down every surface, joining the death-trap reservoir of beer that submerges the basement floor, even matting the damp fake fur that backs the narrow booths along one side of the room. Tonight, Barden's hosts an endurance test of ghastly extremes. Who knows if CIA agents from Guantanamo Bay lurk unseen in dingy corners, taking notes for future extraction techniques?
"One-man Lightning Bolt" Duracell has just finished, his drumkit and stack of LED-blinking computer whizzmagadgetry occupying a seemingly arbitrary spot on the floor at the far end of the bar. Folks who, five minutes ago, encircled him and thrashed in amused appreciation to his epileptic drumming and the cute, manic synthesised melodies that each beat triggered, now lurch away from the scene, hair sodden, faces slick with sweat.
From Wolf Eyes I expected formless chaos, an untuned snarl of noise, and the distinct possibility of boredom. In fact their malevolence, directness and intensity are such that resistance and/or indifference are unthinkable. The experience is at first akin to A Clockwork Orange's famous eyelid-clamping scene - turn where you will, the experience is inescapable, even in the flooded, hellish toilets.
Venture to the centre of the room and it's like some awful, savage political rally. In the confines of a small dark quadrangle, queasy pipe-bomb noises punctuated with roars of obeisance churn at the baying crowd, their fists all smashing the air in unison. It's frightening, thrilling, horrific. I can't see the men onstage, only the silhouetted arms that flail in their direction. Amid the entropy, a man staggers upside down towards the light seeping from beyond the crowd, his upper half buried in the tangle of fists and faces, his feet treading the ceiling.
This is nihilism absolute. Wolf Eyes sound like biological warfare, nuclear vengeance, divine retribution, whale music transmitted from the depths of the proverbial lake of fire. The sporadic scream of feedback and the pugilistic rhythm that pounds away throughout are as musical as it ever gets. Creative expression: nil. Mostly, it's a swarm of unidentifiable noises. I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how they're making these sounds. There's something deeply sociopathic and, arguably, sadistic in these men's desire to sonically brutalise people like this.
Perhaps Wolf Eyes are pointless. Of course they are; their very point is utter pointlessness. They exist not to create and inspire music, but to break it down, to use the tools of its assembly to ravage it. It's near impossible to tell where one sound begins and another ends, what's intentional and what's merely the wailing reproach of an instrument tortured and used in ways it was never designed for. This mass of perspiring, heaving, masochistic bodies have all paid a fiver to be abused, and none but the preternaturally immune can walk away from it.
Yet even amid such abject nihilism, such intended meaninglessness, something higher takes over. There's inhuman elegance and wordless superiority in the control that binds it all together; contrary to my expectations, Wolf Eyes are anything but shapeless; they're cruel, alien, complex and exact in their design. The sad irony, then, is that this sense of otherness is momentarily flattened when their vocalist ceases the onslaught to mumble a few things at the crowd, interspersed with "fuck"s and "fucking"s; for just a few seconds, how completely, disappointingly human.
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