Noise Annoys: Via Barvikha launch new EP, Old Habits die hard for Duellists
VIA BARVIKHA were last mentioned on this page back in April when they backed up New Pagans at The Empire for the Derry band's highly anticipated Belfast debut.
To be fair, there was quite a lot of interest in the support act as well that night, given it was an early outing for the latest version of this solo project from ex-Pigs As People man Chris Leckey.
With his bandmates the Lennox bros having gone on to mighty indie rock unit Junk Drawer – now well established as one of the city's most promising new acts and a world removed from the crunching post-hardcore noise of PAP – former bass wrangler/shouter Leckey had also begun exploring rather less abrasive new sounds under the Via Barvikha moniker in late 2015.
However, after sharing a few really good melancholic/melodic gloomfolk numbers in the vein of Will Oldham or indeed Belfast's own murder ballad meister, Robyn G Shiels – check out his Pearl/Lucid Ferries and Lucifer/Fred singles at Viabarvikha.bandcamp.com now – and playing a handful of full band-backed live shows, a spell working in the far East rudely interrupted his musical plans.
Happily, now Via Barvikha is back in action. Armed with a new batch of tunes written during a stint in China, version 2.0 of the project finds Leckey shifting musical gears yet again.
He's kept the melodic and melancholic feel of those early songs but, as witnessed at that Empire show and on the Chengdu EP – named for the Chinese city where Leckey was based for much of last year – the new Via Barvikha material has a pointedly punchier, full-band heft to it.
The thumping ruminations of Willie Woods and rousing, sea shanty-esque bar room anthem Chris Ryan (the latter named for the producer who conjured the booming Albini-esque sound of the EP into being) find Leckey and co getting their quiet/loud stomp on in fine, atmospheric style.
Elsewhere, Kyle McDonald & Greg Ward alternates hushed, introspective verses with a noisier, mesmeric chorus, while Wilson Davidson (named after the original Pigs As People drummer turned January guitarist/frontman – all these titles are tips of the hat to VB's friends and collaborators, just in case you hadn't already noticed) starts off angsty and gradually builds up an even fuller head of shouty steam over its choppy, chuggy groove.
You can catch Via Barvikha in action at their EP launch show tomorrow night at McHugh's, with support from those aforementioned Junk Drawer boyos (Junkdrawerbelfast.bandcamp.com), indiepopping grungers Hand Models (Handmodels1.bandcamp.com) and a solo set by Andrew Cameron AKA Brash Isaac (Brashisaac.bandcamp.com)
Doors are at 9pm, with admission being £3 before 10pm and £100 thereafter (not really – it's £5).
If you're among the tens of hundreds still mourning the demise of Pigs As People, why not fight the gnawing void in your soul with a dose or 12 of Belfast's Duellists?
Comprised of ex-Throat men Rus (bass) and Mike (drums) plus former In Case of Fire/Element guitarist Pete, some of you may have just sampled the trio's appealingly noisy/hooky post-hardcore pummel live when they opened for Clutch at The Limelight in Belfast on Wednesday night and/or at Dublin's Academy yesterday evening.
That being the case, you'll already have experienced their latest tune, a melodic wreck-the-house moment titled Old Habits in which copious amounts of slamming beats, jagged riffs, rumbling bass and shouting are offset by tuneful chorus interludes.
Duellists say they are "loud, energetic punk rock influenced by Fugazi, The Bronx and the early 1990s" – and, on the basis of this new catchy/crunchy offering and the four songs on their excellent eponymous debut EP from 2015, it's hard to argue otherwise.
Old Habits has even been mixed by Bronx man Joby J Ford just for good measure, so if you love those scuzzy LA rockers then you'd best investigate their Belfast-based buddies pronto.