Coerce and The Burning Sea @ Crown & Anchor, Adelaide (09/03/12)

Coerce is a band we’ve been waiting to see for quite a long time. We fell in love with their last (ARIA nominated) album ‘Ethereal Surrogate Saviour’, and were pretty excited to be seeing such a huge-sounding band in an intimate venue like the Crown & Anchor. That was, of course, until we realised we’d both left our earplugs at home.

Oh, crap.

Being the tough as nails reviewers that we are, we went to the front of stage to catch all of The Burning Sea’s set. We knew we were in trouble when we saw three Marshall half-stacks onstage, but never has a sonic head-fucking sounded so good. In the tradition of Mogwai, The Burning Sea is a predominantly instrumental affair. As you may have worked out already, it was beyond stupidly loud (if you have to ask the audience if you’re too loud, Nat Stone, you already know the answer!) but there were moments in the maelstrom where we could see through time. Or was that simply an effect of the tinnitus? We will definitely be catching them again (and will definitely be wearing earplugs, all the better to appreciate the noise!)

Coerce came out with little fanfare and destroyed what little was left of our brains, and served it back up to us with one of the finest shows that has ever graced the Crown & Anchor stage. We’ve always found the band difficult to pigeonhole, and while “post-hardcore” comes the closest, the label sounds a bit silly. They really are a unique entity in the Australian music scene, who seamlessly combine pure raw musical aggression with an on-stage energy that puts many bands to shame. The set was pretty even spread across both albums, the highlight being Prince Welfare.

Mike Deslandes (nominally the “frontman”, though vocal duties are shared as liberally as lentils in a Nimbin commune) manages to shred the fuck out of his guitar without looking like a show-off. The drums are relentless, and the riffs are loud, hard and in-your-face. Yet none of Coerce’s songs rely on ‘hardcore shticks’ to gain your attention. They are really well-crafted songs, delivered with impeccable tightness, and not a single breakdown in sight. If you fancy a little “thinking-man’s (post)hardcore”, you won’t regret checking Coerce out.