Heartworms live at London's Village Underground. Credit: Jamie Macmillan

We arrive at Shoreditch’s Village Underground to a sparsely populated merch table of three t-shirt designs: one of Heartworms’ sketched explosion insignia, another stark one of mastermind Jojo Orme’s piercing gaze, and another baring the words ‘UK GOTHIC POST PUNK’ in the plainest of text. The latter is a phrase you’re going to be reading on a lot of ‘ones to watch’ lists from those just now catching up with the NME 100 alumni.

Eyebrows were raised when Orme first announced tonight’s show at tonight’s 700-capacity venue back in March, then fresh from releasing the stellar debut EP ‘A Comforting Notion’ and with the biggest headline date they had done in the capital at the much more intimate Lexington. It was one helluva flex, but thanks to some heavy BBC Radio 6 Music airplay, as well as touring the small rooms and festivals, tonight (November 21), Village Underground is packed with the fresh faithful to witness “the next great cult band”.

A silhouetted member of Orme’s crew steps out on stage to wave a flag of the Heartworms logo, setting the tone of high melodrama for the evening. In keeping with the band’s military chic aesthetic and the challenge of the evening, the message is clear: they’re going to war. The battle cry of a post-rock-noir instrumental follows, akin to Depeche Mode at their most twisted, before new single ‘May I Comply’ fills the room to a heady response – proving why the band belong here. “It’s so nice to play more than a half hour set,” Orme offers. Let’s be having it.

Heartworms live at London's Village Underground. Credit: Jamie Macmillan
xHeartworms live at London’s Village Underground. Credit: Jamie Macmillan

The “gothic” essence is amped up even more in the live realm as ‘A Comforting Notion’ crawls along with menace and ‘24 Hours’ has a lot more crackling fire beneath it – but it’s the new ones that absolutely bang. In keeping with tonight’s turn-of-the-century converted warehouse setting, ‘Warplane’ has an industrial pulse akin to Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Copy Of A’, with a howling chorus and a touch of Hitchcock suspense to the piano outro. ‘Extraordinary Wings’ follows a similar spirit as an anti-ballad to defiance in the face of global shit-housery: “I don’t have the time to tell you what I don’t want to hear”.

There’s a macabre, Cure-esque waltz to future album centrepiece ‘Immediate Exhilaration’ along with some of the jagged rage of the Manics’ ‘Holy Bible’, while ‘Smuggler’s Adventure’ has a touch of the more downbeat grunge vibes of Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ but lifted by some aching Jeff Buckley histrionics.

Orme swaps her cyberpunk get-up for the military garb of her early videos when returning for the encore of fan favourite single ‘Consistent Dedication’ and ‘Retributions of an Awful Life’. Her guitar, spray-painted with the message ‘Freedom For Palestine’ is put down as she invades the crowd to have lyrics hollered back at her. It’s clear there’s already a movement here. This is not just a pastiche of what you’d expect from ‘UK GOTHIC POST PUNK’, this is already a fully-rounded world delivered with courage and intent. 2024 will belong to Heartworms.

Heartworms live at London's Village Underground. Credit: Jamie Macmillan
Heartworms live at London’s Village Underground. Credit: Jamie Macmillan

Heartworms played:

‘May I Comply’
‘A Comforting Notion’
‘24 Hours’
‘Extraordinary Wings’
‘Immediate Exhilaration’
‘What Can I Do’
‘Smuggler’s Adventure’
‘Consistent Dedication’
‘Retributions of an Awful Life’

The post Heartworms live in London: British rock’s newest cult heroes go to war appeared first on NME.


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