Live review – Chat Pile, London Tufnell Park Dome, 14/08/23 | Juno Daily

The Chat Show comes to town

pic: Robert Cunningham

In the past year, Oklahoma City based noise-rock meets sludge metal four-piece Chat Pile have swollen from a niche passion project to one of the most buzzed about bands in the extreme underground. Following two impressive and unsettling EPs, as well as a split with blackened screamo trio Portrayal Of Guilt, their debut full-length God’s Country wound up on a myriad of end-of-year lists whilst garnering critical acclaim due to its punishing industrial-tinged production and the harrowing first-person narratives crafted by frontman Raygun Busch.

With tracks detailing the daily work of a slaughterhouse attendant, to a sobering and vicious critique of the homelessness crisis, to real life robberies to the indescribable anger felt by Jason Voorhees’ mother after his initial drowning in the first installment of Friday the 13th; the content was challenging to put it mildly, while ultimately serving as both a mirror and window into the facade of mid-western malaise, abuse, broken people and a faulty system, all underpinned with horror atmospherics.

With rave reviews from the likes of Pitchfork and The Needle Drop, the band absorbed a somewhat overnight success thanks to the hype of their album which led to an appearance back in April at the prestigious Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands. They’ve now finally made it to the UK for their first ever overseas tour, catapulting them from unknowns to headliners, with appearances scheduled for both ArcTanGent in Bristol and Core Fest in Glasgow this weekend.

pic: Robert Cunningham

Commencing their run tonight is the first of two sold out shows at London’s Tufnell Park Dome, both with differing supports and a promise of unique setlists. Opening proceedings is Liverpool based folk-indebted black metal entity Dawn Ray’d who combine colloquial violin and string arrangements into their frosted bedlam of metallic soundscapes, while the industrial metal duo of Petbrick (including Igor Cavalera of Sepultura fame) are sonically more aligned with the headliner, while it must be noted that Chat Pile recently dropped an exceptional cover of ‘Roots Bloody Roots’, providing a little behind the scenes easter egg for those in attendance.

Speaking of easter eggs, Chat Pile are a bunch of cinephiles, or at least their vocalist is, as in between almost every song Busch namedrops films shot in London and encourages the crowd to shout back movie suggestions. He even makes a point to reference the location of their venue in Tufnell Park before mentioning the Spaced house and Shaun Of The Dead. Clearly, the man knows his stuff, with the band even taking in a screening at the Prince Charles this past weekend.

As for their debut London performance, the four-piece take to the stage with a lackadaisical demeanour very much at odds with the crushing heft and cavernous weight of their material. The bass tone which rumbles with intensity on studio recordings plummets to stomach churning levels of low while the drumkit is miked in such a manner that each snare hit sounds like an ungodly industrial death march.

Opening with the revolting true stick-up story ‘The Mask’ from their God’s Country LP before going straight into the similarly titled early EP cut ‘Mask’, it’s evident that tonight’s set will span the majority of their succinct discography, with Busch confirming again that tomorrow’s show will feature a totally different set. This fact isn’t without it’s disappointments as certain fan-perceived essentials are omitted, clearly being saved for round two.

Much attention is paid to their adored Remove Your Skin Please EP, with the unhinged ‘Davis’ proving a highlight while the one-two punch finale of the deeply haunting yet absurdly groovy ‘Dallas Beltway’ and the insanity of ‘Garbage Man’ closes out the proceedings with a frenzy of headbanging bodies screaming “I’m coming for your children!” right back at Busch, who paces the stage shirtless and barefoot in only a pair of grey shorts, sweating and howling like a madman who dropped from the shabby cosmos. Elsewhere, cuts are pulled from their recent Brothers In Christ split with Nerver, as well as the title-track from the feature film Tenkiller which the band scored and released the official soundtrack for earlier this year.

For a group with only a couple of EPs and splits, one album and a film score, their upward trajectory whilst toeing a very grim, challenging line of caustic, aggressive artistry is beyond commendable, while seeing them approach a headline set with the effortless finesse and swagger of seasoned veterans only adds to their endearing aura. Sonically crisp, bowel rupturing heaviness delivered with nuance, passion and humour; Chat Pile are the extreme metal pinnacle of taking your art seriously but nothing else, and if tonight’s sold out start to their first UK tour is any indication, their cult-like following is only set to balloon even further.

Zach Buggy