Formed in late 2014, and with appearances at The Fleece and the inaugural ‘The Underdog’ battle of the band contests at the Thunderbolt throughout last year, local band Thelema’s Sunday evening show at The Crofters Rights was the setting for the launch of the band’s first EP Suture. Facilitating the classic indie rock approach of two guitars, drums and bass, the north Bristol four piece delivered a solid set featuring eleven songs, including all three tracks from their debut release.
Opener ‘Fracture’ is propelled by an attractively dark and doomy riff and an early indication of guitarist Ricky Griffiths’ economic lead lines. His simple guitar figures are an ever present counterpoint to lead singer Aaron O’Sullivans’ often jangly chord progressions; case in point being the surfing riff of ‘Rolling Stones’ which culminates in a two way vocal attack and its “oh oh oh” chorus. It’s a song that also offers the first clear evidence of the impressively energetic drumming of Mike Blandford – wrapped up with the steady, fundamental bass of Martin ‘Nibs’ Blackwell – as the rumble of his toms becomes the focal point during the mid-song breakdown.
With its sharp arpeggios and lighter groove of cymbals and rim-shots, ‘Twinkle’ is a slower affair with its slight leaning towards balladry inciting the requisite bromance for Griffiths and Blandford to briefly lock eyes and mouth the song’s lyrics at each other.
There is, however, no such leavening touch before the reverbed, Cure-esque guitar lines of ‘Where You Sit’; when Griffiths enquires as to how many of the audience have picked up a free CD of Suture, the initial lack of response rouses him to half-jokingly bellow “That’s not many of you, I said who’s fuckin’ picked up a free CD?!” I later discover that Griffiths was at the tail end of a Sunday drinking session and therein lies a vague allusion to the origins of the band’s name; Thelema is a philosophical outlook based on the Aleister Crowley edict of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”. Sunday drinking before an EP launch? If it feels good, do it.
However, the briefest of false starts when launching into ‘Hope’ is the only real sign of any musical looseness. Containing echoes of ‘Slide Away’ and an outro in which lays a tinge of ‘Live Forever’, it is the song that most highlights the perennial influence of Brit Pop’s finest and the Oasis inspired sound that emerged in the post-Strokes noughties.
An amusing moment occurs before ‘Wilt’ when O’Sullivan enquires as to who among the crowd took their Mum’s out this afternoon to celebrate Mother’s Day; comically miscast as the sole Mummy’s boy among the audience, the solitary response comes from a vaguely intimidating, largely built man with a bald head and bushy beard.
The set finishes with the three songs from Suture including ‘Rain’, featuring a simply effective guitar riff that soon burrows its way into the memory and the pleasing final evidence of Blandford’s frenetic assault on his drum-kit.
*Suture is now available on Soundcloud at: https://soundcloud.com/thelema_band/sets/suture-ep