Alex Donohue

14:19 27th November 2006

My Vitriol are the self-proclaimed Guns ‘n Roses of the indie rock world. Three songs into tonight’s comeback gig, and frontman Som Wardner is already answering heckles about the fan’s agonising wait for a new album. “I’ve heard that question every day of my life for the last three years,” he replies wearily. “We are the new Guns ‘n Roses, thank you.”

There’s more chance of establishing democracy in China before GNR’s next album appears, but the tortuous wait for My Vitriol’s next long player continues. To put into perspective how different things were back when ‘Finelines’ was rocking Gigwise’s little world in 2000, Coldplay were just a yellow blip on a stadium-shaped horizon; The Libertines were lying prostrate on beer-stained floors of grotty east end pubs; a bunch of fresh-faced Dubliners from JJ72, now defunct, were tipped for greatness; terrorists weren’t flying planes into buildings. Entire political regimes have been and gone in that time.

In indie rock terms, ice ages have passed in the time it’s taken Som and co. to do, well, what ever it is they've been doing these last five years. An infuriating prospect at the best of times, Som’s brain pulverising guitar riffs and metaphysical lyrics would make Billy Corgan baulk. My Vitriol are a band loved and lambasted in equal measure - and that’s just by their own purple ink letter writing, Nine Inch Nails-not-gloomy-enough fans.

Old habits die hard; My Vitriol arrive on stage half an hour late. But when you’ve been waiting for as long as this Gigwise scribe, it’s a blink of an eye. Support act The Cinematics, do an admirable job of staving off a salivating crowd. Propelled by Scott Rinning's vocal acrobatics, and Cure influenced guitars, the Glaswegian quartet power through a host of tracks off their forthcoming album 'Strange Education', including singles 'Break' and 'Chase', which takes in the best moments of Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, and Boy-era U2. Like the band on next, great things are soon expected.

The wait for My Vitriol is over. Tonight’s 1,500 capacity gig sold out in hours. People have slept in doorways to see their comeback. People have come from as far away as Gdansk to see the gig. Here’s why: entering stage right to swathes of underpant soiling feedback, the quartet launch into a wordless My Bloody Valentine-influenced sonic assault, complete with Ravi Kesavaram’s atomic drumming, prolapse inducing bass from new member Lauren, and Seth and Som’s sky scraping guitar riffage.

As a statement of intent it’s impressive; the raw energy of The Smashing Pumpkins mixed with Spiritualized noise-outs, Nirvana-ish angst and Som’s primal, Deftone-like screams. An easy ride it ain’t. Decked out in suits, Seth and Som trade teeth grinding riffs with moments of impossible grace on ‘The Gentle Art of Choking’. Similarly, ‘Cemented Shoes’ is still a frazzled, bitter ode to unrequited love. New song ‘Into Your Arms’ is just as striking. As with most of the new material played tonight, it’s equal to anything on ‘Finelines’, and if half of it surpasses the dazzling ‘War of The Worlds’, the new album could be very special.

They pout with ease on ‘Ode To The Red Queen’; “If only all the world could see, but they’re not like you or me,” wails Som, like his life was ebbing away with every passing breath. ‘Losing Touch’, and ‘Grounded’ are equally compulsive. ‘Pieces’ heartbreaking plea for forgiveness has the mark of the Manics at their finest, and underlines how long it’s been since the UK last produced a band of this, frankly, awesome potential.

It’s there in ‘Alphawaves’ brooding guitars, which crash into ‘Always Your Way’, which drags you out of spirit-crushing mundanity to leave you soaring above rooftops. It's there in the visceral, take no prisoners muscle of 'This Time' and 'If Only'. Som even finds time for some humour before the encore. His spot-on Borat impersonation; “I like you, do you like us?” draws an unequivocal response before 'Tongue Tied' and 'COR' attempt to reduce KOKO to rubble. We like you just a bit then, Som. Give us a new album and we could just love you forever.