Review by Paul Castles, photos by Rich Thompson
On a week when the news was dominated by talk of the Philae lander touching down on a comet in some far flung galaxy there were rumblings of an equally cosmic nature a little nearer to home.
Fear Me Productions was putting on one of its eclectic shows at Scruffy Murphys in Birmingham and a small but fully committed crowd had gathered in anticipation of a night of supersonic doom.
First up, from just down the M69 in Leicester, were Prophets of Saturn who were in stellar form with their headspinning brand of hallucinogenic heaviness. Singer Ben possesses a real warmth that seemed to radiate across the room. With elements of stoner cushioning the doom, The Prophets got the evening off to a groovy intergalactic start with the 70s vibe accentuated by the occasional use of a harmonica. Casting magical spells with tracks like ‘The Wizard’ while occasionally swigging from a bottle of Hobgoblin, Prophets of Saturn won many friends at Scruffys and will be welcome back any time.
Next up from Yorkshire were Iron Void, last seen in these parts at Doom for the Doomed at the Asylum in the summer. The Wakefield trio draw their strength from the likes of Candlemass, Electric Wizard and Sabbath.
The spirit of Ozzy and co clearly strikes a chord with Iron Void frontman Sealey which comes as no surprise as he actually spent his early years in Birmingham. His connection with Sabbath was further endorsed by the wearing of a Sabs t-shirt. This inspired a quick glance around the faithful and my unofficial headcount confirmed that a Sabbath shirt was indeed the garment of choice for the majority of the Scruffys audience.
Iron Void opened up aggressively with ‘Tyrant’s Crown’, Sealey thrusting his four-stringed partner towards the ceiling. The riffs on ‘I Am War’ drew an instant response of frenzied clapping with the Rasputin themed ‘The Mad Monk’ throwing a Molotov cocktail into the mix. Guitarist Steve took over with his slightly cleaner vocals on ‘Those Who Went Before’ while the song ‘Eye For Any Eye’ is a song Iron Void have adopted, Steve having performed it when with a previous band.
Zombie fans were given a treat with ‘Necropolis’ which pounded along at a deeper steadier rhythm. Final number was an epic rendition of the Sabbath song ‘Electric Funeral’ with Chritus from Goatess invited on stage to take the mic for this monster curtain closer.
It’s not overstating things to suggest that Chritus is something approaching legendary status in doom circles following his association with bands such as St Vitus, Count Raven and Lord Vicar. Just before Goatess began their set the drummer made a quick dash upstairs to pick up a few bottles of Newky Brown and then the doom could begin.
The Swedes have riffs that are so evil even a nun would struggle to resist their force. Once the Stockholm sound kicked in with the delicious ‘Full Moon At Noon’ every head began bobbing away as the cranium crushing energy started to surge through the room.
Although the band’s self-titled album is as infectious as the mumps, they still rolled out plenty of new material at Scruffys. Newer songs like ‘Shadowland’ were not as familiar but still carried sufficiently doom riffs to resonate with the crowd. With the gig just starting to overrun a little there was some breathing space at the end as numbers lightened. This was no bad thing because by now the fans were being almost swallowed up by the stoner doom from Goatess as surely as a treacle pudding is when the custard is applied.
Not for the first time, a memorable night at Scruffys with bands and fans intermingling between sets, and sharing their love of all things heavy.