Acid Mothers Temple + Margarita Witch Cult @ Nortons, Birmingham – 9th October 2022

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With a plethora of great music venues, Birmingham’s Digbeth is a really happening area, and perhaps the brightest jewel in its crown in Nortons. Its nifty live room to the rear of the pub has a wonderful cavernous sound, and it’s one that tonight’s openers put to great use. Margarita Witch Cult are a local three-piece sludge metal band who sound far bigger than their constituent parts and proceed to deliver a filling-loosening, earth-shaking rumble. However, despite the visceral power with which they attack their instruments there’s a lot of variety on offer as ‘Death Lurks At Every Turn’ swings with that tight-but-loose vibe as perfected by Black Sabbath, and the aptly titled ‘Annihilation’ speeding past like a bullet train. A riff heavy rendition of Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ goes down particularly well while their next single ‘Sacrifice’ (due for release this Halloween) is more treat than trick and signposts a bright future.

Since forming in 1995 Acid Mothers Temple have come to prominence as Japan’s premier psychedelic rock band. In what looks like a punishing tour schedule, the band stop by Birmingham, and even before they hit the stage a sense of expectation fizzles and crackles in the air. While Margarita Witch Cult did a great job warming up the crowd, nothing can really prepare us for the arrival of Acid Mothers Temple, and such is the intensity of their show that it should really come with some kind of government health warning. With little fanfare, the band appear in typically understated fashion; they just plug in and play, its symbolic of their plasticity and their set will grow organically from these humble beginnings into an unwieldy monster.

Acid Mothers Temple are still led by irrepressible guitarist Kawabata Makoto, a six stringer who unleashes all sorts of musical magic with fingers that move at lightning speed. But each band member brings their unique character to make the collective whole, as Higashi Hiroshi, a white-haired wizened wizard, pulls strange sounds from his Roland Synthesizer while Jyonson Tsu lends ethereal, other-worldly vocals along with some unexpected, but welcome, bouzouki and Greek flavoured vocals, both of which gives the band an international flavour. It’s bassist Wolf and drummer Satoshima Nani who give the band their motorik beat, and they tick with a metronomic precision that owes much to krautrock acts such as Kraftwerk, and the pounding beat they deliver causes the speaker cabinets to shake and teeter dangerously all night.

The musical journey on which Acid Mothers Temple have taken us comes to a rocky landing, with cymbals crashing and guitars held towards speakers for maxim squealing feedback. Like extra-terrestrial visitors on a quick visit to our planet, the band depart as they arrived, and leave a room full of happy punters.