Igorrr at O2 Academy, IslingtonSupport: Hieroglyph
November 8, 2017 at O2 Academy, Islington
Promoter: Academy Events
Hieroglyph are a band that, at some point, I’d decided that I didn’t like, and as such, never really paid them any attention – an unfortunate side effect of the sheer quantity of music available on the internet. They declare early on that Igorrr is “the only act we all agree on,” and, as much as basically nobody can match the French act’s lunacy, Hieroglyph’s sheer heaviness means that they don’t seem out of place. Barring a somewhat questionable second song, the interplay between melody (Valentina Reptile’s vocals in particular) and some very tight (and very fucking heavy) progressive metal creates a foreboding, and sometimes unsettling atmosphere throughout, and it’s riveting stuff. Mark Howes’ growls are particularly savage, and the rest of the band are stunningly tight. It’s how I imagine Vildhjärta would sound if they were from Yorkshire (charmingly goofing around on stage, mostly), and I’m happy to say my opinion of them has done a complete 180. I would say I was looking forward to seeing them again, but they’ve made the colossally bad decision to split up. They played a great set at least, and everyone is now somewhat warmed up for the main event. . .
Though in truth, nothing can prepare you for Igorrr. Two take to the stage with minimal fuss – Sylvain Bouvier and Gautier Serre; drummer and DJ respectively; two coax the crowd into madness through what is as much an acting performance as a musical one – Laurent Lunoir as the statuesque demon, Laure Le Prunenec as the possessed dancer. What ensues is best described as the soundtrack to being bludgeoned at the opera, while on a particularly potent cocktail of hallucinogens. Serre weaves a tapestry of sound, jumping between genres I don’t even know the name of (and might not even exist outside of the warped imaginations of the genii on stage) with the flawless precision of a scientist and the unpredictability of Schrödinger’s cat playing craps. There’s always the possibility that some excellent live bands are actually just excellent bands that can actually perform their songs without butchering them. Not so with Igorrr, who are lifted into an even higher plane of live quality by the performances of their two vocalists who, not content with both showcasing incredible and versatile vocal ranges, both also have a unique and eye-catching stage presence – Lunoir a blue-and-black painted demon, standing statuesque and foreboding while delivering harrowing screams; Le Prunenec dancing trance-like in time to whatever style Serre throws out next – anywhere between elegant black-clad ballroom dancer and marionette mid-seizure.
Igorrr seem to exist solely to shatter expectations. Without an encyclopaedic knowledge of the back catalogue, it’s impossible to know whether someone fluent could predict every left-field meander and discordant transition, every song that seems set to build one particular way, but instead twists to comprehensively shatter expectations without ever sounding unnatural. Simply put, Igorrr is one of the most unique acts in metal (and about 87 other different genres) today, and a live experience that, while bruising and slightly mind-melting, I can’t recommend highly enough.