Review and Photos by Tony Gaskin
It can be argued that the many faceted faces of Doom can trace it’s origins right back to the dark and grimy streets of Birmingham. I am of course referring to the Granddaddies, the Doom Icons, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. So on a Sunday in the heart of Doom City the acolytes have gathered in their masses for a glorious celebration of the heaviest of the heavy.
As if to show his disapproval, the man up above decided it was going to be a bright, sunny afternoon for all the black clothed hordes as they arrived at this un-devilishly hour. But with horns raised and head bowed, the day kicked off with London 5 piece Hagstone who gave the early devotees a fast paced set of bass driven groove, and if you dedicate a song to H.P. Lovecraft it’s gotta be Doom, right? Joking aside, the bar was set high by these guys with a solid set.
Following the slick change over that we’ve come to expect from the guys at The Asylum and Fear Me Music, we are greeted by a huge man mountain proclaiming he’d been raped in Birmingham, thus kicking off a set that featured masturbation and mic stand fetish! This was the highly entertaining Victorian Whore Dogs and there eccentric front man Danny Page. Heavy Sludge meets Johnny Vegas is the only way I can describe it. They describe it has “Sexy Hobo Tramp Core” or “Hobo Chic” the title to their latest EP. It actually reminded me of those early Napalm Death gigs at The Mermaid, chaotic, loud, in your face, but loads of fun
What a contrast then to Witch Charmer. Well, a complete contrast in fact, their music was an esoteric antidote to the anarchy of VHD. Psychedelia providing a backdrop to the haunting vocals of Kate McKeown which are balanced by the booming backing vocals of drummer Dave McQuillan. Their music is from the softer end of the Doom scale, classic stoner grooves with long instrumental sections, the only thing lacking though was any sort of interaction with the crowd, they seem detached and Kate seemed awkward at times during the instrumentals, but that’s just a minor gripe, it was overall, a great set.
Getting to the halfway point now and up next were what Terrorizer Magazine describe as “the future of British Doom”. Greenhorn have got a lot to live up to then, the 3 piece from Dorset hit us with a heavy sludge laden set filled with masterful riffs and down tuned epicness, almost thrashy at times with hardcore undercurrents, reminding me of Raging Speedhorn at their best and to make sure that we’d been completely pummelled they bring on VHD’s Danny Page to help out on the last song, best set and best reception of the day so far.
Khost on the other hand could only be described as “Shoe-Gaze Doom”, two guitars and a laptop provide a spectral interlude with lights dimmed and smoke machine in full flow. Surprisingly heavy, with layers of riffs filling the room, it’s interesting to listen to but no easy to stand there and watch.
My Silent Wake though are a different matter. So many influences are thrown in here and so many comparisons could be made. Fast, heavy, progressive, the vocals are growled and spat out with venomous conviction, this is a style of Doom that has a blackened heart. The 15 minute opus “Hunting Season” is the most epic thing I’ve heard all day, I need to get hold of the album “Shadow of Sorrow”!
With a complete back-line change over, the signs were it was about to get seriously heavy, yes even heavier than what’s previously been heard here today. Two huge guitar cabs and one equally huge bass cab were wheeled onto the stage, this was a triumvirate of noise waiting to subdue us, and first up was Bast to fire the first salvoes with tracks from their latest tome “Spectres”. Again we touch on a more Black Metal style, but the sludge is most prominent with each bass note resonating down to the depths of your soul. The tempo is constantly changing taking you a roller coaster of ear splitting exhilaration.
We’re on the ropes now, well and truly battered by the day’s events, each band seemingly heavier than the one before, Bast were majestic in the extreme heaviness, but when you realise Craig Bryant only utilised the one cab/head combo and you see Conan’s Jon Davis setting up the Two Towers of Doom, then you begin to whimper silently to yourself, but we’re transfixed to the spot like a little bunny in the headlights.
I’ve never heard a bass note sound so heavy and last for so long, new bassist Chris Fielding is able to find notes that exist only in a fantasy world, each one conspiring to turn your spine to mush, whilst Davis makes the most of every available watt in his armoury. I recently saw Crowbar who proclaim “None Heavier”, I’m sorry Kirk it should say “None Heavier (except Conan)”
Playing their latest album “Blood Eagle” in it’s entirety is a bold move, but one that pays off as the packed room crowd in on the stage to get the full effect of the monstrous onslaught. Album and set opener “Crown of Thorns” begins with Davis throwing out a metronomic distorted riff as a call to the faithful to gather, then BAM! That first bass notes flattens the masses. The album is a work of blistering brutality that sees the Liverpudlian Doom Masters at the height of their powers, and performing it live only serves to take it to another level. It’s a fitting end to an excellent day of a much misunderstood metal genre, but with more and more Doom themed days appearing the future looks black.
Next Doom event from Fear Me is going to be the Doom for The Doomed three day spectacular 9th-11th May https://www.facebook.com/events/309752269167594/?fref=ts