After the Ice – The George Tavern, London, 24th July 2013

After The Ice is the brainchild of Paul Lisak, who when not singing and playing guitar with the three piece psychedelic rock band is establishing his position as one of the UK’s best known young painters.

Just as, as an artist he has eschewed the current obsession with videos and installations in favour of the more traditional paint and canvas, with After The Ice he has gone for an equally back-to-basics rock format. The closest comparison would be with another trio, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and as with them there are times when it seems impossible that the big, impressive noise you’re hearing could be made by just three people. Much of that is down to Lisak’s guitar playing, which (very unlike Hendrix) is less about show-off virtuosity and more to do with using his bank of foot pedals to create rich, deep soundscapes that often float above the songs.

And, despite the impressive sonic punch they pack, it is all about the songs. Don’t be distracted – underneath the heavy riffs and brutally battered drums (courtesy of the brilliantly named Tomek Tomek), there’s actually a pop band lurking. ‘Tea and Cake’, which starts with a strident reggae beat that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Police album before it hits a killer rock chorus. It’s an early highlight of tonight’s set, but it’s still the one this reviewer was humming the next morning. ‘Wake Up’ plays its cards the other way round, kicking off with speedy snares like an amphetamine-spiked White Stripes, then just as it seems it’s going to explode hits a funky but heavy half-speed section closer to Rage Against The Machine at their best.

If they can continue to avoid the clichés of metal, which they mainly do, the only exception being a more sentimental sounding ballad they play towards the end, the reception After The Ice get should be anything but chilly. Cool.

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