Only a handful of lines from the Greek poet Sappho, who is estimated to have died sometime around 570 B.C., have survived the centuries-long passage of time. Among those is Fragment 16, which goes, in part, "So must we learn in world made as this one/ Man can never attain his greatest desire."

Only a handful of lines from the Greek poet Sappho, who is estimated to have died sometime around 570 B.C., have survived the centuries-long passage of time. Among those is Fragment 16, which goes, in part, “So must we learn in world made as this one/ Man can never attain his greatest desire.”

These words could form the bleak backbone of gothic Grand Rapids post-punk crew Sapphic, which borrowed its name from the poet and inherited its darkened mindset from her few known verses. The band’s self-titled debut, released, appropriately, in the dead of winter early in 2014, tends to be a chilly, sunless affair, constructed of deep, gurgling bass lines, deadened vocals (think Joy Division’s Ian Curtis at his most detached) and chiming, atmospheric guitars. Despite sporting uplifting titles like “Paradise” and “Heaven,” the songs on the band’s debut are more evocative of the underworld; the latter, for one, opens with a booming drum volley that hits like an ancient call to battle.

Sapphic arrives here in support of the just-released Eros With a Cane EP, which finds the bandmates treading similarly desperate ground. “I’ve got nothing,” Nicholas Alcock moans repeatedly on the title track, struggling to make headway against ice-scraping guitars that hit like gusts from a polar vortex.

Sex Tide, Katherine and Phases also perform.

Photo courtesy of the artist