ARCHIVE of District of Cacophony

June 10, 2009 | REVIEWS

Denali @ Black Cat, 6/6/09

I found out about Denali from some internet source back around the beginning of the millennium. Maybe it was a record label website, maybe it was something about DC/Virginia bands. I don’t really remember. But at some point I downloaded a couple sample songs, “Gunner” and “Relief” and they were heavy in rotation on my old laptop of the era… ah, Winamp days… So innocent, so pure. Anyhow I picked up a CD of theirs years later and also liked it. By which point the band had broken up. So I was interested in seeing them ever since their name popped up on a Black Cat schedule months ago.

It turns out they are well worth seeing. In my mind I had categorized them as something akin to Portishead, only more rocking. That was mostly a stereotype based on those first two songs that I knew by them. Live, they reminded me of other bands, too: the darkness of old 4AD goth bands like Cocteau Twins, the lush post-hardcore sound of bands like Trail of Dead, the sad metal drone of bands like Jesu. These are great influences and I definitely enjoyed the show.

Denali photo by iamdonte

Still for all those other influences, it was interesting to hear them tell the crowd that the first song they ever wrote was “Gunner” — the moody Portishead-ish song I had so long admired. My own experience is that the first songs you write with people end up being the worst… for them it was the opposite. I hope they’re enjoying their reunion and that they still like playing “Gunner” because it is one of those songs that still could be a fluke hit someday.

Can’t find youtube clips from the show, but there are some old ones floating around. Here’s a great version of “Gunner” from a show in Richmond last year: