Metal would be a lot more fun if other bands were as outrageous as Wargasm

It makes for one gloriously entertaining gig.

Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.

Metal would be a lot more fun if more bands were like Wargasm. They dabble in charged politics, they toy with fantastical and sci-fi escapism, but their music mostly takes the form of lightning-in-the-bottle fury. When they first erupted onto the scene in 2019 with the charged ‘Post-Modern Rhapsody’, the pair described their music as Angry Music For Sad People, and that mission statement has never wavered. In fact, it’s proudly displayed on a giant backdrop behind them as they headline London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Before Wargasm can even get to the snarling chorus of set-opener ‘Venom’ though, the first of countless crowdsurfers is heading for the stage as the standing area erupts into a swirling mass of limbs, pints and lost shoes. It’s sheer carnage, and that energy never lets up for the duration of Wargasm’s relentless set. The band demands the biggest circle pit this ornate venue has ever seen for the urgent, dystopian nightmare of ‘Pyro Pyro’ while the screaming purge of ‘Sonic Dog Tag’ twists heartbreak into something more communal. “Remember, they lost you, and you’re here with us tonight, so that makes you better than them,” grins Sam Matlock.

The band have always dealt in chaotic catharsis, but they’ve really dialled it up with their debut album. More confident and more deliberate, ‘Venom’ sees the band fully exploring a sonic world before racing off to the next one rather than skipping through genres with reckless abandon. It’s no less exciting, though.

Mobile phones are held aloft for soaring industrial pop song ‘Modern Love’, bringing a touch of romance to the evening, ‘Do It So Good’ is a collision of punk and rave, while ‘S.A.D.’ is a fiery mash-up of alt-rock, goth and metal, delivered with gleeful theatrics. Wargasm still thrive on sheer chaos, but there’s a vibrant precision to proceedings now.

Still, the pair don’t waste a second of tonight’s show overexplaining how or why this band has connected with so many people so intensely. As nu-metal titans Dropout Kings say during their own ferocious support slot, though, “Everyone here has been through some bullshit this year. It’s time we work through that bullshit together.” Later, the band’s Eddie Wellz joins Wargasm for ‘Bang Ya Head’, a ferocious party anthem that knows how outrageous this all is. Likewise, ‘Feral’ and ‘Outrage’ gleefully make things as heavy as possible as the crowd rages together. It’s not subtle, but that’s the point, as Wargasm comfortably play with extremes. It makes for one gloriously entertaining gig that offers more than just a good time.