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Church of the Cosmic Skull + Vōdūn @ Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – Sunday 16 April 2017

No rabbits, no resurrections, just Voodoo, black slugs and a singular cosmic whole…

Words by Jason Guest

One of the best releases of 2016, Vōdūn’s debut album Possessed (reviewed here) exemplifies all that a band should be: a tight and focussed organic entity with each member finding their own place within the material to bring it to life through their accomplished musicianship. There’s no centre to this band, by which I mean that there’s no one person that stands out from the rest, the band and the music is dependent on – and much bigger than – all of its constituent parts. When they played Mama Roux’s in support of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats in December (review here), they blew the headliners – and the crowd – away. And tonight is no different. Drums, guitar, vocals all blend into one, and on stage that unity, that oneness, is manifest in an outstanding performance.

While I suspect most are here to see Church of the Cosmic Skull, those that haven’t heard Vōdūn before are quickly won over. And it’s the music and the performance that does the work. Drummer Ogoun (aka Zel) is on top form, her playing is machine-like in its precision, its power and its focus, and exuberant in its dynamism and drive. Guitarist The Marassa moves freely between massive riffs, leads and fills and flourishes, none of which are superfluous, to fill the room with the heaviest of metal, the darkest of doom and the airiest of the ethereal with the fluidity of jazz. And with the incredible voice of Oya winding her beautifully moving melodies in, out and through the music, the spell is cast and the crowd are possessed. With three new tracks in the set, all of which embody the spirits that the band has summoned forth since their inception, Vōdūn again prove themselves a band like no other.

Well, it’s Easter Sunday and for those who may be concerned that instead of being on our knees worshipping the resurrected one at the altar or prostrating ourselves before a judgmental hare, they can take solace in the knowledge that the Church of the Cosmic Skull has flung opens its doors to offer salvation. With guitar, Hammond organ, electric cello, bass and drums and six-part vocal harmonies furnishing their debut Is Satan Real?, this bunch of cultish oddball’s hymns to the divine are splendidly wonderful and colourful, and, along with Vōdūn’s Possessed, is easily one of the best releases of 2016. And so the church and this eve’s congregation need fear no evil for they need no saviour, whether in the shape of a revivified redeemer or an egg-and-judgement-distributing bunny. Nope. We’ve got The Seven Objects to free us of the trials, the tribulations, and the trivialities of modern life that thwart the flourishing of our earthly soul.

The lights go down and with the first of The Seven Objects projected onto the screen behind the band, the seven ministers, all garbed in white, enter the stage to bring their mystical message to their hometown. What follows is a commingling of clerics and congregation brought together in a celestial armoury that our revered reverends launch at us one at time in what can only be considered a majestic ceremony. Keyboards on the left, drums on the right, guitar and bass behind two vocalists with the cellist at the centre, the stage is bathed in light as the evening is transformed into eternity. The interplay between the musicians is exceptional, each instrument playing a significant role in this eve’s recital, punctuating and propelling each of the magical lessons one after another. A wonderful Sunday service that is both glorious and grand, how could any flock resist such sumptuous seduction? Praise be and bring on the rapture…

 Church of the Cosmic Skull Rescue Rooms 2017

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