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Oxford Zodiac

... [I]he [/I]is in the audience - a collective 'oof' is masked by juddering guitars - and we are hollering every line from [B]'Screamager'[/B] at him. Oxford is as happy as a pig in shit.

Oxford Zodiac

Towards the end, Andy Cairns has given up on singing altogether. He stands, surveying the flushed youth of Oxford, lips forming the fish-mouthed rock 'O' that makes him look a bit simple in photographs. And suddenly, the mic stand is in the audience, [I]he [/I]is in the audience - a collective 'oof' is masked by juddering guitars - and we are hollering every line from 'Screamager' at him. Oxford is as happy as a pig in shit. Not many bands can get away with the messy, matey democracy that Therapy? do tonight. Metal audiences are legendarily loyal, but Therapy?'s fans have been through a lot. They have had cellos foisted upon them. They have witnessed the peaks of '94s 'Troublegum' - all melodic punk accessibility - slump to the low point of '98s 'Semi-Detached', a half-assed album that saw the band retreat to the more understanding embrace of an indie. Last autumn's 'Suicide Pact: You First' consequently owed as much to Beefheart and The Jesus Lizard as it did to production line riff-rock. But tonight, even such sonic challenges as 'Wall Of Mouths' are greeted with aerobic joy. Volume, after all, is a great healer, and Therapy? are old hands. The overdoses aren't pretty, mind. Therapy?'s ritual slaughter of H|sker D|'s 'Diane' robs it of any dignity'. In a frenzy of guitar overkill, 'Teethgrinder''s chorus is, like a dental scan, the only clue to its identity. An absence of volume, though, is much much worse, as evinced by Therapy?'s Ulster-themed ballad 'Six Mile Water'. But for all their sins, Therapy? are saved when they crank it up [I]right[/I], as on 'Little Tongues First' or the instrumental intro of 'Big Cave In'; cleansed by the communion of clear-cut loud guitar and wide-eyed belief. And so we forgive them, time and again.

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