The one-time frontman of The Dillinger Escape Plan before the metalcore heroes called it a day last year, he has returned to his side-project guise of The Black Queen, a new wave-indebted sober antidote to the visceral, jazz-tinged assaults of his former day job.
Backed by keyboardist Josh Eustis and guitarist Steven Alexander, they convey an impressive sonic heft when they step out at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds; across an hour-long set, they ebb and flow with a beguiling, seductive moodiness that mostly makes for a dreamily intoxicating evening.
Their show in Yorkshire comes in support of sophomore album Infinite Games, release late last month, but aside from a trio of tracks, they otherwise ignore it in favour of debut Fever Daydream, virtually trotting their first record out in full. Emerging into inky blackness only punctured by the flashes of a back-projector and the sound industrial bass rumbles, they waste little time in unloading the brace of new cuts too; Thrown into the Dark’s towering darkwave anthemics carry a pulsating chill while the whispered, metronomic techno of No Accusations recasts Nine Inch Nails’ Clsoer in a more melancholic light.
Early single Ice to Never draws a big first-act reaction, its soaring eighties-dance scaled back to its burbling emo-synthpop core, Puciato switching between stadium-sized yelps and intimate murmurs in the space of a lone breath.
A brief mid-set lull centred around the disturbing kraut groove of Distanced and the insidiously soporific Your Move does suggest an edge of complacency creeping into affairs – but then the trio switch out crisply muted hooks for big aural wallops, trading away iciness for sweatier abandon. Taman Shud brings a jolt of energy, draping jagged licks over its brutal electroclash outbursts; That Death Cannot Touch throws a chunky riff under its riotous Depeche Mode-flecked flashes.
Secret Scream is an out-and-out relentless basement club banger and arguably the best of the night. The brooding, post-rock ambience of Now, When I’m This brings proceedings back to a more subdued conclusion; the sweeping, widescreen finale of Apocalypse Morning lingers on in a feedback-laden crescendo long after Puciato has thanked the crowd and departed.
This queen knows how to entertain her subjects.