For those with a limited knowledge of Bristol’s underground sludge-doom/post-rock/psych scene, the bustling crowd filling up the Old England last Friday night may have come as a surprise. The venue might be unfamiliar for some, but if you’ve never sat down for a pint in a rustic pub with your ears bleeding, I would highly recommend giving it a go. This was one of those evenings. Bringing their paradoxical blend of neck-breaking riffs and ambient soundscape creation to the dark corners of Montpelier in celebration of their latest vinyl release, ‘Creations’, were Bristol based three-piece Cegvera (meaning blindness in Spanish). The instrumental storytellers are notoriously loud and haven’t stopped blistering cartilage since their formation. 2017 marked both the release of their debut album ‘Fractals’, and a UK summer tour, intermittently frequenting Bristol’s smaller local venues. After knock-out sets from supports Phoxjaw, Yo No Se and Soden; Cegvera silently take the stage. The better prepared grip their pints with ever-whitening knuckles.
Cegvera take no prisoners at their live shows. EP opener ‘Centralia’ stomps with hacksaw grooves and an anxiety that only begins to hint at the upcoming intensity of the next hour. Blending seamlessly into ‘Iguala’, bassist Aaron Scrupps sways behind drug-war news samples. In the absence of lyrics, you’re forced to create meaning behind the songs, the context for which is hinted at through edited, and often political extracts. Take ‘Natural Threats II’ from their first release ‘Fractals’. Whatever your political affiliations, placing Trump’s blasé diction over a backdrop of increasingly complex percussion and melodic patterning is as sickening as it is brilliant. Masterful pedal operation at the hands of guitarist Gerardo Arias keeps the studio to live performance transition sharp as a knife. They’re delicate in their method of destruction. The playful opening loop to ‘Aral Sea’ ripples through the room, before ground-shaking fuzz whips up tsunamis in overdrive: “They want to destroy everything/…every language in history/…they’re incinerating culture/…we have lost our humanity”. As Cegvera slam through a track by track of ‘Creations’, the crowd lose themselves in the distorted vision the trio have created.
After finishing the new release, the band revisit earlier tracks from ‘Fractals’ with drummer Matt Neicho taking the wheel, steering expertly through a labyrinth of intricate fills, figures and explosive backbeats on the final number of the set ‘2039’. The drum performance is an entirely separate entity, with all three members simultaneously sending their heads to the ground at every opportunity. Encore ‘Varroa’ is relentless, beating the audience into a ruined pulp. As the three leave the stage, it’s clear they delight in squeezing everything they can out of their back catalogue.
Wizzarding Promotions host their next gig at The Old England on the 7th of December. If you’re currently excited by the re-emergence of heavier music in the charts and are looking to step out of your comfort zone, go and see Cegvera in Bristol. They will change you. But for the love of god, make sure to wear earplugs.