Bossk + Ohhms @ Audio, Glasgow 13th May 2017
Audio is one of Glasgow’s most distinctive small gig venues, utilising a warehouse under the railway bridge leading into Glasgow Central Station. It has a distinctively edgy, claustrophobic, underground vibe that really gets under the skin - one enhanced by the slightly sketchy feel of the surrounding location. However, those who dare venture within inevitably feel privileged to find some great musical acts therein.
Ohhms have an absolutely huge, distinctively pagan, primordially soupy sound, akin to Baroness on half a ton of mushrooms, or Black Sabbath blanketed in a heavy coat of fuzz. Paul Waller’s face is perpetually blanketed by straggles of his shoulder-length hair, making him look like some sort of sinister creature that’s just emerged from the fog. His guttural intensity of vocals and unleashed physical energy even extends to him grabbing and shaking one of the stage monitors at one point, as if cathartically throttling the life out of some metaphorical assailant. Heavy-as-lead sounds blend together in a dreamy sonic nirvana, turning them into one of the most intense sludge-rock experiences around.
Bossk, on the other hand, are more precise and crystalline, sliding firmly into the post-metal cachet with Russian Circles and the now unfortunately-named Isis. Named after a reptilian bounty hunter from the Star Wars films, Bossk have a habit of lulling the unsuspecting listener in with tranquil sonic architecture before buffeting them about via Tom Begley’s grinding bass and flaying them alive courtesy of Tom Begley’s mic-trashing throat shredding. Their music is alternately haunting, beautifully desolate and flat-out terrifying, making for some singularly dramatic listening. If there’s a criticism of Bossk it’s that the band has relatively little on-stage personality (support act Ohhms certainly made more impression in that department). Even so, they are a truly special experience when seen live, in particular when standing right up at the front.
Just hold onto your skin while you do so.