If their bio is to be believed (hint: it isn’t), Codex Serafini are “a Saturnian Ritualistic band hailing from outer-space, currently passing through Earth and temporally [sic] residing in Sussex”. Clad in matching garments – part hospital robe, part druid priest gown – and with their faces partially obscured, they make you feel as though you’ve unwittingly stumbled across some kind of cult ceremony at a masquerade ball. They may paint themselves as trippy cosmonauts (Sleepy Sun Ra Arkestra, anyone?), but in reality, there’s often something quite earthy about the Fun House vibes of their hard-rock-‘n’-sax squall.
Last time Salford’s Gnod were here, in June 2017, was election night. While Theresa May’s Tories retained power, they did so with bloody noses, as many more people than expected said no to the psycho right-wing capitalist fascist industrial death machine. Of course, it proved to be a false dawn, and the psycho right-wing capitalist fascist industrial death machine has since tightened its grip on the nation to an extent unimaginable even a couple of years ago. Perhaps that’s why the new LP La Mort Du Sens (The Death Of Meaning to you and me) is probably the most ferocious and confrontational record Gnod have ever released.
Shortly before setting off on tour Gnod bassist Alex Macarte tweeted, “Dunno about you, but all this pent-up being inside apocalypse shit energy got us about to go off like a rocket” – and that explosive energy clearly still hasn’t fizzled out a few dates in. Paddy Shine grimaces at his guitar like it’s done him some grievous wrong, the basslines are so heavy they could anchor a couple of supertankers let alone a few songs, and the current line-up’s double drummers are like armed police battering down the front door of your brain.
One longer track during their Moon set in Cardiff sees Gnod shift into a more Melvins-go-motorik mode and even inspires some dancing out in the street (though that could just be passers-by high on Wales’ draw with Belgium). But for the most part, the set is blunt and brutal, particularly Regimental and Pink Champagne Blues, the new album’s first two tracks, on which absolutely no quarter is given and no prisoners are taken.
Who knows what horrors the next four years may bring – but here’s hoping we’re all still alive in 2025 to come back and take our punishment again.
The Moon, Cardiff, Tue 16 Nov
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos NOEL GARDNER