It’s a bright sunny Sunday in old London town. What better way to spend the day than in a pub, in the company of some of the nastiest sounding bands this county can offer. What indeed?
Reviewing this will be tough – part of the fun of writing about music is giving bands bad reviews. It’s much easier to creatively insult someones music than to praise it. So, when presented with an entire day of uniformly excellent bands, it makes my job tough. If you’re into this kind of music, you can’t really go wrong checking out any of the line up – they were all damn good. So I’m digging deep to criticise…
We arrive bright and early and manage to catch the end of set, only heard two songs, but they sounded Iron Monkey-esque – big fuzzy downtuned riffs and angry, intense screaming from their frontman. It’s hard being the first band on and playing mainly to the other bands, and the saddos who arrive early (me) But none the less, the don’t display any apathy because of it and blast through on the wings of dirty riffs.
Gorse are on next, and are probably the lightest and most rock oriented band of the day. More cerebral than the others, but lose nothing for it. They straddle genres well – they could probably entertain an audience of Mogwai fans as well as the longbeards in attendance here today – sitting between the heavy end of indie and the lighter end of stoner. They lack the power – hitting of some of the other bands – but make up for it in some higher thinking.
Hey, Serpent Venom, Lee Dorian called and he wants, well, everything back. Yeah, Serpent Venom has a frontman that even looks like the British Doom overlord. But, y’know what, there aren’t many bands that can carry off the Cathedral look and sound – that’s why they’re so good. Serpent Venom certainly wear their influence on their sleeves, but when you can pull off great big crushing monolythic riffs, before throwing down a head-bang-along gallops and powerful singing, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.
Dead Existence bring some really grotty sounding sludge to the table. They sound like hungover people fighting, slow and nasty, each movement bringing some low end gut pain. Their singer is in fine voice pulling off some excellent gutteral noises while avoiding a decent into death metal cookie monsterism. I would like to see the band move about a bit more – this kind of noise is chacterised by fairly easy to play (says me who can’t play for shit) riffs – you’re not doing the solo from Painkiller – give us something to look at! Maybe they were hungover. Either way – it’s a small criticism for a band who delivered some top table low end sludge.
If I were to look at Witchsorrow’s MySpace, I wouldn’t be surprised if their description was Doom/Doom/Doom. (It isn’t though. Bah.) It’s pure doom. Denim and slowness abounds. They also seem to be drawing on the very early days of extreme metal, when they do pick up the pace a little (not much mind you) it goes very Celtic Frosty – one riff being almost the spitting image of the opening of Dethroned Emperor – before turning off onto it’s own path. (the singer also did the Tom Warrior patented ‘URGH’ during this song – I think they knew what they were doing!) Their sound was also a little more sparse than others – more Cirith Ungol than Black Sabbath, but nice to hear some variety in the Circle Of True Doom. I’m not entirely convinced by their frontman’s voice – not strong enough to power over the riffing, but again, a minor point of critisism in another killer set.
During the break I buggered off for chilli at Big Red, which has now utterly demolished my intestines. Thanks.
On returning Astrohenge are playing. There is a uniform look on the audience’s faces. Confusion, but in a good way. Like biting into a sandwich to find it filled with fifty pound notes. Astrohenge are fucking unhinged and fucking good. Experimental, but not in a wanky, navel gazing, introspective way, they are experimental in a ‘whatthefuckamIhearingit’sreallygoodohitschangesbut itsstillgood’ way. They seem to jump genres in the middle of riffs – from grind to space rock to punk to sketchy mathcore craziness and back again, but without losing any momentum. They don’t have a singer, but I don’t think anyone (except maybe Mike Patton) could keep up, and lose nothing for it. At one point I think they even dropped a bit of the Dune soundtrack in as an outro and have made me a dedicated fan. The weirdest band of the day, but possibly one of the best.
Dopefight only have three members, but they sound absolutely HUGE. Mostly instrumental, singing seems to be an afterthought and only pops up every now and again, but doesn’t really need it. Powerriffing and pummeling drumming soon see the whole place nodding in unison at their stoner grooves. For a band as weed-powered as this, you would expect them to be a little sloppy and play it off as their charm, but no, these guys are tight, no messing around. Power-stoner anyone?
Koresh clearly enjoy themselves. Playing a Raging Speedhorn (2 singer) style of downtuned to fuck angry metal sludge punk thing they aren’t po faced about it. Likie what would happen if you told Iron Monkey to lighten the fuck up and forced them to read Viz comics for about a decade. Their stage banter consists of “mumble mumble FUCK CUNT….giggle” but I’m fairly sure if I could hear them it’d be funny. Judging by the fact that their T Shirts have “a picture of a duck fucking a moomin” on them – they are funny guys. Humor mixed with this sort of angry, messy music is a potent combo, and they even have some killer stage moves. I think Koresh could become the next cult British band. Glad I got that T Shirt before it gets popular.
are pros. While the other bands may as well be playing to a room full of their mates (which, judging by the good natured camaraderie on display – they are) Trippy Wicked know how to work the stage and play to fans. And while many on the previous bands have a very earthy concrete and piss style of music, live, Trippy Wicked head out on a space rock quest to kick some ass. Their singer may well be putting his voice whrough a ton of equipment, but he can sing very, very well and it adds a whole dimension on to their music. If any of the bands on the bill could have some semblance of mainstream success, it would be these three as their mix of stoner, blues and balls out craziness goes down well with the crowd of backpatches and longbeards, but would also do quite well at one of the more commercial festivals. Polished to a bright shining point, Trippy Wicked were a fine way for me to end the evening.
I had to miss Invasion and Charger – so if anyone wants to let us know how they were – hit the comments.
For a day of bands whose primary motif is copious drug use, it was supremely well organised. Massive kudos to the organisers, The Gaff, the dude who did the amazing posters and all the bands. A great festival – More please!