Dark peak

Sally Marlow goes to an unusual gig.

For the uninitiated, Evil Blizzard are four bass players and a singing drummer, who have garnered some big support slots and regularly headline their own gigs in London, Leeds and Manchester. They are something of an enigma, not only because of their genre-defying music, but also because they wear masks. These are grotesque, nightmare-inducing creations. Of course they are not the first musicians to wear masks, and they won’t be the last. The current crop of masked bands includes Kiss, Slipknot and Daft Punk, and Brits 2018 Best Band, the Gorillaz, who lead the way in digital masking. All of these bands have gone on record to discuss the transformative power of donning a mask; how it allows the wearer to be someone else, to experiment and create new personas. Where Evil Blizzard differ, however, is that nobody actually knows who they are underneath. [Editor’s note: Although see also The Residents.]

According to promotional materials, the band is from Preston, but we have no names, no context for their music. Despite having achieved the front cover of the Guardian’s G2 and Kerrang (who described them as ‘masked weirdos’), they guard their privacy and anonymity fiercely. This perhaps gives their music and performance an edge that can’t be found elsewhere. Describing a band as genre-defying might sound like a cliché, but there really isn’t another way... yes, it’s postpunk, perhaps a bit thrash metal, it’s trippy, there’s some dub in there, and even krautrock. Evil Blizzard are also deeply charismatic, with stage presence that, if I was feeling up myself, I would almost describe as performance art.

At Underworld in Camden recently the audience was out in force to support them, some of them wearing masks themselves. There were the ubiquitous V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks of course, and in the mosh pit I was vigorously jostled by a man dressed as a baby, who managed to keep his dummy intact for the whole gig. There’s lots of chant-along too – ‘Are You Evil?’ Well, yes, tonight I am actually.  

As they climaxed with their newly released single ‘Fast Forward Rewind’, for a moment I had what as a psychologist I can only describe as a peak experience, so much more peak because it was so unexpected. This is dark, dark stuff, and for those of us who like to go to the edge and peer into the abyss, it’s all the better for it.

- Reviewed by Sally Marlow, Associate Editor for Culture

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