It’s crazy at this time of year especially at weekends when there are loads of good gigs on every night and you really have to pick and choose what you go to. Tonight is no exception and that’s just in Camden where there are various small pub gigs on at places like The Hobgoblin and The Unicorn, Monster Magnet at The Koko and this on at The Underworld. The good thing is that this meant tonight’s show was not rammed to the rafters even though there was an article in today’s Guardian of all places extolling the assets of ‘Occult Rock’ and namedropping The Devil’s Blood. Perhaps the hipsters were too late to change their plans or were all watching Dave W reliving Dopes To Infinity down the road. We were happy as we had room to move around and get some photos and literally sniff the blood. The one slight downer was no support band and we had noted the line ups in places such as Belgium with bands like Urfaust playing on the bill. Does England not have any bands worthy of sharing the bill with the Dutch clan (or should that be coven) tonight?
To be fair they may not have wanted to share the limelight, after all this was billed as the launch for brand new album, the excellent ‘The Thousandfold Epicentre’ a copy of which is currently winging its way to me via a popular Internet shop and one you can read comrade at arms Gizmo’s thoughts on in our album reviews section.
Anyway back on course and needless to say there was quite an air of anticipation prior to the band arriving on stage. The backing chants and music were keeping us entertained and at one point I thought I heard the theme to Romero’s seminal ‘Day Of the Dead’ which would have been fitting as the band finally strode out covered like blood spattered brides and grooms of death in all their glory.
Whilst we were getting acclimatised to the scent and sight in front of us we were quickly borne ‘On The Wings Of Gloria’ and the gig, or ritual, a phrase that for once was remarkably apt was off. I at first thought they had skimped on the blood but then the camera caught the truth of the situation, sure the drummer could get away with things a bit but most of the band were a ghoulish delight looking like they had crawled out an abattoir, if you are in any doubt they do not use any fake blood but the real deal, and theatrically accept no substitutes to their Grand-Guignol display. This was not a case of playing just tracks off the new album and we were suddenly pitched back to 2008 EP ‘Come Reap’ with ‘River Of Gold.’ Riffs felt like they were flying straight out the 70’s and Farida’s vocals were perfectly pitched, highly strung and belting things out at the right points. The band itself flexed muscles and guitar solos spiralled out, dropping us into the musical heady flow and leaving us grinning with both shock and awed expressions on our faces.
There were new players since the last time I caught the group but they were well versed in songs both new and old and ‘The Fire’ burned brightly casting us all in its warm glow, the punchy chorus already ingrained on our memories. This was an arcane and devilish performance, bristling with danger and akin to watching a 70’s Euro film on double dipped windowpane. At times the voice vanishes literally in a puff of smoke, well incense is lit and the band sprawl into long psychedelic jams mesmerising us and having us nodding out and tuning in as they fly harmoniously from the speakers.
It’s a long set and there is plenty of time to pop off for liquid refreshment and get position again during the almost 90 minute show. The songs flow from one to the other, this is all about a band playing without any rockstar sensibilities. There is no between song banter, there is no dry ice and there is no need for any of it either, it is just the music that is important. The blood itself may well be an unconventional approach but it is a statement and it matches what they do, no more, no less. The audience takes it all in and is a motley crue of metal heads, skins and punks and the plain curious. Everyone took something away from this though. Some heard their favourites from last album ‘The Time Of No Time Evermore,’ others heard the band for the first time and no doubt got a spark of that ‘anti-kosmik magick’ even if that song were not actually included in the set. Some actually made it to a higher place getting to the end of the show and beyond with the stupendous head melting ‘Christ Or Cocaine.’ Whatever your drug of choice was you were likely to find it here in musical form.
What’s left to say? This is surely the last time this band are likely to play in a venue this small at about two thirds capacity. If you missed them at this point in their career you really have missed out; word will no doubt spread and my fingers are really crossed that The Devil’s Blood are destined to join Watain on the bill at Bloodstock Open Air next year. They were particularly great in the festival setting at Party San a couple of years ago. A fantastic night, thankfully I was not an infinite dope and had chosen wisely. The Blood Is The Life!
Review & Photos © Pete Woods