Mutation/Nomasta – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club – 27 October 2017 Print
Written by Rich Hobson and Neil Vary   
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 04:00

Ginger Wildheart’s Mutation have had a wild ride. From day one issues have threatened to (and for a while, succeeded) to kill his most ambitious and divisive project, the band suffering everything from aborted studio sessions in 2011 to a black cloud of depression threatening to derail the band on their most recent album, ‘Dark Black’. And yet, Ginger has always prevailed, finding ways to overcome each and every trial that is flung his way. So it is with Ginger, so it is with Mutation. It feels like (unfortunate) business as usual then to see that Ginger is suffering from a particularly turbulent bout of depression and upheaval the morning of the band’s first ever show then, made only worse by the announcement that main tour support Dead Cuts (the new band by ex-Wildheart Mark Keds) have dropped out of the entire tour – news which is broke (to both the headliners and the fans) via Twitter. Professionalism at its best, ladies and gents. Last minute scrabbling aside, it means that only one support act will appear, local metal thumpers Nomasta.




Arrival at the venue immediately confirms that Mutation are most definitely Ginger’s most divisive band, the room decidedly lighter than those one would expect of the usual Wildhearts or even solo show. Yet, the room also boasts a smattering of metal tee-clad denizens, a departure from the usual merchandise adorned gathering – and we start to see one of Mutation’s big appeals; it is a huge departure from Ginger’s tried-and-true acts of the past twenty-plus years, offering an entirely new take on genres hitherto unexplored in his canon, as well as an entry point to a whole new dimension of fan. So, while its disappointing that a much bigger crowd haven’t turned up for Nomasta’s support set, it still feels good to see Ginger pulling in completely new faces and offering something very different.


A local band just taking their first steps onto the greater world stage, Nomasta are an absolute delight to behold at the Brudenell. Approaching the gig with single-minded brutality, the band sound intense as they hit the stage and start blasting through tunes from their debut record ‘House of The Tiger King’ (which at the time of the show hadn’t even been released). Sitting somewhere between Gojira, Machine Head and latter day Sepultura, Nomasta are a metal band through and through, their sound offering an intense pummelling, the drums in particular blasting away like an excitable jackhammer in a way that would make Mario Duplantier proud.




Although the songs are very much new to pretty much everyone in the room (aside from a couple of pesky journos and PR agents who may have had a cheeky pre-release listen), they sound massive and fully realised, each one landing with tactical precision. But then, Nomasta aren’t total newbies; they’ve been around in the Leeds scene long enough to take their lumps and learn some lessons on the way and that experience really shows in a pleasing and exciting performance.


And then, Mutation are up. With only one support act preceding them, the usual tingle in the ears from watching a few support bands get the room warmed up barely registers. This, it turns out, is an act of mercy in an otherwise unforgiving universe. There is absolutely no fucking around for Mutation tonight – this is the band’s first ever gig, and they have to make it count. So, they go big, they go hard and above all, they go loud. Backed by an entire wall of amps, PAs and Marshall stacks, the band lurch into life like Armageddon, the entire room exploding under the pressure of opening number ‘Authenticity’.


Hitting like an actual physical force, Ginger, Denzel and Scott sound immense as they blast out an uncontrollable aural carpet bombing. Though the vocals are slightly buried in the mix, the sheer power and energy the band put into the song makes it feel like the words are boring through your skull, the shotgun-blast riff of the song’s chorus prompting a desperate sing-along for fans who have waited four years to see this band play a show.



With three albums’ worth of material to choose from the Mutation set feels like it can go anywhere, the band utilising the momentum from the opening number to power straight into ‘Toxins’, much as they did on the album. Ripples of pure fury accompany this thrashier number, the opening sample of “Do it you fucking pussy!” feeling like an unnecessary egging-on when the band are already in full KEN Mode. Relentless and pure in rage, the band spit absolute magma as the song rattles every bone in the building.


And then, for something a little different. Each Mutation album boasts its own flavour, so while Dark Black’s songs sound like a terrifying rampage through the very worst and most extreme aspects of the human condition, ‘Friday Night Drugs’ from ‘The Frankenstein Effect’ feels like a pop-song, albeit a pop-song that wants to kick your whole family to death and then feed you the sloppy remains as gumbo. For the first time of the evening a bona-fide sing-along breaks out, the rarity of the occasion just serving to make it all the more passionate and desperate as the chorus roars out to the rafters. “FRIDAY NIGHT DRUGS!” indeed. Chased with another oldie (in so much as any Mutation song can be considered an oldie… it was over five albums ago after all) in ‘Carrion Blue’, the crowd is treated to another eclectic and inventive blast of extreme noise, tempered only by the song’s steady chorus as the verses rage completely out of control.


Having found their footing quickly, the band revert to new material as they blast out ‘Hate’ – the first song they ever rehearsed as a full band. Though the YouTube vid suggested great things ahead, nothing can quite prepare you for the sheer power of the band onstage, the sound so violent and unsettlingly energetic that it’s all you can do to hang on and scream along for the next three-and-a-half minutes. So too does it go for ‘Skint’, another new track which takes an earworm chorus and bludgeons the audience to death with it like a concrete-covered toffee. Completing the ‘I can’t believe this has a chorus’ trilogy is ‘Irritant’, one of Mutation’s most obnoxious songs and an absolute terror in the flesh. Not often you’ll hear an audience roaring along to “fuck off you cunt you are an irritant”, but then this is a song by the same bloke who gave us the bouncy “fucked from behind” chorus back on ‘Taste Aversion’ in 2012.




Having been noticeably absent from the set thus far, it’s then time for the band to lunge into material from Mutation’s second record, ‘Error 500’. Starting with ‘Bracken’ the band make use of samples to replicate some of the extra vocals from the record, but otherwise provide a visceral and bare-bones run through of the song. Interestingly, this raw bones approach serves to flesh out ‘Computer, This Is Not What I’, the song given a thousand times more oomph than was initially injected into the studio version by sheer volume and aggression in the live setting. Closing out the ‘Error 500’ portion of the set is the frenetic ‘Relentless Confliction’, complete and utter aural warfare that leaves the brain completely jangled as the sampled Mark E Smith vocal kicks in, making it less “your shoelaces are BLEEDING” and more “fucking hell, my ears are leaking”.


With ‘Dark Black’ still so fresh in its promotion cycle and the band specifically formed for this record, its unsurprising that Mutation dip back in for the closing numbers, ending their set much as they did the record. ‘Dogs’ is enormous, a sensory car crash where riffs fly high and the band get to flex their muso muscles without any of those pesky vocals or choruses getting in the way. This just makes the final snarls of ‘Deterioration’ feel all the more catastrophic, the band somehow managing to increase in volume with each clattering riff, the song searing itself into the brain and literally filling the room with noise. The band can’t have played for more than an hour, yet the sheer volume and intensity of the show feels like the comedown on an amplified adrenaline rush, the feedback of the band’s instruments echoing the sound the nerves make at the end of a non-stop barrage of utterly unyielding louder-than-anything-else noise, the crowd utterly drenched in the band’s sonic filth.




The build-up to Mutation’s first ever show feels typically in keeping with the rest of the narrative. At every turn adversity seemed to rear its ugly head and snarl in the band’s face, threatening derailment with each twist in the track. And yet, from the jaws of defeat Mutation spring forth to put on one of the most impressively affecting live shows in the game. In terms of stagecraft the Mutation show is a million miles away from The Wildhearts or Ginger solo – there’s very little time for chatter, and even if there were you get the sense that Ginger would rather let the din do the talking anyway. Now that’s what I call a fucking racket.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photographs © Neil Vary Gig Photography. Check out our full gallery of photographs HERE.


Check out our recent interviews with Ginger, Scott and Denzel.


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