Cassels dish out their newest material at The Moon, Cardiff

Cassels on stage at The Moon, Cardiff

The last time I saw Cassels was under a tent in an Oxfordshire field back in Summer 2019. The duo, who’s bold mix of hardcore, noise rock and garage, were about to release their second album, and delivered the goods at their Truck Festival set that year.

Listen to their music for even a minute, however, and the setting of sunny summer days feels a tad too bucolic. Cassels have an uncanny ability to wield rawness; their songs ring with underlying pain that often explodes under its own tension. Hence, the dimly-lit basement that is The Moon makes far more sense as a place to experience them, and an ideal location to hear the material from their new album live for the first time.

Seeing the place stay open following the immense hardship independent venues like it have been through over the last two years is a huge positive. The Moon’s dedication to showcasing new, upcoming and especially local talent is something that Cardiff’s music scene benefits from immensely. It was the same case on Thursday night, with Cassels being joined by two other acts.

“…[My Octopus Mind] offer smoky, psychedelia-tinged rock that clearly wants to tend towards the unconventional.”

First up were My Octpus Mind. The Bristolian 3 piece offer smoky, psychedelia-tinged rock that clearly wants to tend towards the unconventional. Right now, it’s not quite there, but the trio certainly show promise. Their track ‘Welder‘ is well worth a listen.

South Wales’s Zinc Bukowski took to the stage next with a chaotic set that gradually found its bite. The band’s energy is undeniable, but their noise rock sound lacks stylisation. Their new single, ‘Fortune Teller Error‘, dropped back in December.

Cassels were last to play, opening with the opening track from their new album, A Gut Feeling. Their third record is their most confident outing yet, with their set conveying the griping cynicism that powers it. Their brutally controlled aggression, dolled out with accuracy and anger, was rendered totally on stage.

“In this dark nook of central Cardiff, [Cassels’s] lyrics depicting the crushing, repressive weight of modern living felt alive and at home.”

To my right, Loz powers away on the drums with a transfixed stare. Jim commands the left, composed most of the time but breaking into wild expression when the music rises. In this dark nook of central Cardiff, their lyrics depicting the crushing, repressive weight of modern living felt welcome and at home.

My full thoughts on their new material will come with my review of A Gut Feeling, but one thing is for sure: their sheer impressiveness is alive and well. Two pieces have a habit of making more noise than most bands, but when that noise comes from the utterly inspired riffs this duo noodle out and is packaged with a such a command of their expression, it’s hard not to be balled over. Cassels don’t seem like they want to be a flag-waving protest band, but their gut-punching takes on everything make them a tonic for the world we live in.

Cassels with Zinc Bukowski and My Octopus Mind at The Moon, Cardiff – 10th February 2022.

Munro Page

Munro Page is a music blogger and former student radio host based in Cardiff, Wales. He likes: thrift stores, cooking and parrots. He dislikes: chain restaurants, the M25 and Simply Red.