Last night the Twin Cities were treated to a very special collaborative show between the band Thou and solo artist Emma Ruth Rundle at the Turf Club in Saint Paul.
If you were unable to attend this sold-out show, you missed a night of heavy music for the record books.
Let me tell you if you didn’t already know, the Twin Cities has plenty to offer when it comes to incredible heavy bands. With quite a full dance card, this show was no exception.
Starting off the night was the band Without.
This quartet brought a great mix of atmospheric droning metal, with touches of black metal, doom, and shoegaze thrown in. The whole experience was laced together with beautiful and haunting lyrics.
If you like getting lost in a trance or enjoy anything with an ethereal sound, this is just the kind of band you will be happy to add to your rotation. Fans of Alcest, Amesoeurs, or Bell Witch should definitely give Without a listen.
Second up to perform was Grogus.
I will be honest, I had been lulled into a bit of a haze by Without’s performance, but that was shattered seconds into Grogus’ first song.
Everything about these guys has a “go for the throat” mentality, and I loved it.
The guitarist and the bassist had their pedalboards set facing each other in the middle of the stage, with the drummer behind them. So, instead of facing out towards the crowd, they were facing each other, which gave a sort of standoff feeling to their performance.
It was almost as if the guitarist and bassist were challenging each other to see who would tap out first as they traded snaking technical riffs and guttural howls back and forth.
Self-described as cosmic fungal hardcore, this three-piece combines all the heaviest elements of death metal, hardcore, sludge, progressive, grind and doom into a wicked soup of brutal and intense metal.
I haven’t seen anyone play a set that was as intense and short before, and it was fantastic.
I think they might have played three or four songs in total, but each one was like a sledgehammer to the chest. If you like it heavy, give Grogus your attention.
Next to the stage was the band False.
I had the pleasure of seeing False once before when they played on the Decibel Magazine tour in 2016. They opened for Abbath, High on Fire and Skeletonwitch. If the company they keep isn’t enough of an indicator of their talent and prowess, this performance at the Turf Club certainly would have been.
False is fantastic, they are as about as straight ahead as black metal gets. They may not have all the pomp and circumstance of some of the more notorious black metal bands, but honestly, they don’t need it. Their music is full of all the things that make extreme music fans happy to be in our little circle: incredibly fast, razor wire guitar and bass shredding, chaotic blast beat drums, straight from hell vocal shrieking with lyrical themes covering topics like vengeance of the gods, warfare and the ignorance of man. Add a dash of keyboards to make everything a little more haunting, and you have yourself some impressive black metal that is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart.
If you are a fan of bands like Immortal, Dark Funeral, or Emperor and you haven’t stumbled upon False yet, now is the time.
However, you will have to wait to see them again live as this was their only local performance until the release of their forthcoming LP.
Finally, the time came for our headliners. Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle took the stage to a completely packed Turf Club.
The fact that this happened at all is an absolute delight. They are only playing five collaborative sets in the entire U.S. before their appearance at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands.
Add the detail that Emma Ruth Rundle hadn’t visited Minnesota yet, and it makes this set even more special.
If you are unfamiliar with Emma Ruth Rundle’s solo music, it can be described as gothic folk that is moody and atmospheric.
Thou was new for me and I was immediately excited by their southern sludge style of heavy creeping riffs that just beat you into the ground.
Both acts jelled perfectly to create a gigantic monolith of inescapable sound. It was hard to tell where one ended and the other began because they just fit together so well.
Emma’s atmospheric qualities worked perfectly with Thou’s relentless heaviness and created a set that was unique unto itself. It was all too obvious that these musicians were enjoying the hell out of playing together on the Turf Club’s small stage.
As their set was ending, they mentioned that they were going to be playing a smaller, “quieter,” after-midnight set at a local art venue. I can only guess that set was just as exciting and fun as the one played for the Turf Club.
The Twin Cities is so fortunate that we were able to host such an exciting event. If you are unable to see Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle perform together I cannot recommend enough that you check them out individually.