It has to be said that this is the first show that I have been to in quite some time where I find myself temporarily deaf the next morning. There is a fuzzy sound in my ears and everything sounds as though it is not quite right. This is something that used to happen a lot in the past before everything went all PC and noise levels were brought in. The Clarendon in Hammersmith used to be the worse and I remember going to see Platoon at the flicks a couple of nights after being there and not hearing a thing. In a way it is probably lucky that levels were brought down as otherwise I would be deaf as a post now but this virtually sold out aural attack obviously saw everything turned up a sneaky notch or so.
First up it was a case of big men with big beards and I was looking forward to catching Age Of Taurus for the first time. Just before they came on I almost fainted finding out that the venue were charging £4.45 a pint of cider but thankfully was jarred out my shock by thudding groove laden slabs of noise reverberating out the speakers. The bullish ones have already been kicking da London underground scene and getting a good amount of positive press and they quickly got those of us in the venue for kick off thudding boots and banging heads along to their hefty sound. There was some fuzz heavy distortion about things and it was a taste of things to come for the night, added with some great twin guitar harmonics, vigorous shape throwing and timeless sounding clean vocal croons this was a real step back in time. Songs like ‘Unborn Destroyer’ were perfect for anyone worshipping at the fonts of anything from Sabbath to Maiden and this struck as the perfect sort of band that could not fail to go down well with anyone here. We were informed that ‘Barren’ was from forthcoming album ‘Desperate Souls of Tortured Times’ and the beat behind it had me thinking a bit of Cathedral before it upped tempo and went into a thrashy passage whipping us into action. I was struck particularly by a couple of things here, firstly what a great harmonious voice that singer Toby Wright had at full flow and also at full flow the lovely hair of guitarist Alastair Riddell. Watch out for this lot they could be the greatest band you have yet to hear!
I had never heard of Purson before giving them a pre-gig shuftie and was glad to note that I liked what I heard. This group fronted by Rosalie Cunningham formerly of Ipso Facto are relatively new but have been quickly snapped up by Rise Above Records. It was quick to see why when watching and listening to them. They came on stage looking a bit like raggedy flower children and opened up with ‘Wool’ a slow but encompassing number that quickly drew us into its warm and progressive flow. The singer / guitarist was particularly captivating and her voice was gorgeous. At times I was convinced that they were playing a cover song but realizing they were not came to the conclusion that what they were doing from their own original songs were obviously strong enough to be considered as hits of the past. The rest of the band grooved away and I suddenly thought that the guys in the group looked like they may have come straight out of a Jean Rollin vampire film. As far as the current crop of bands out there being compared to the likes of Coven et al there was no similarity between any of them and Purson. This lot were quite unique and not comparable to anyone by sound. Songs like ‘Spiderwood Farm’ were particularly strong and there was a bit of a dark cabaret vibe about things as it picked up the pace and more frantically span its web. By the last song they were belting things out, very much at the heavier end of things (think of the likes of White Rabbit being pitched up) went through the roof for the more than impressive finale. Another discovery well worth checking out.
Witchsorrow were a band I did know well and I have to admit I was quite surprised when I saw that they were main support. This was not anything to do with their proficiency, don’t get me wrong it is just that I have always seen them at much smaller venues and they are a trio with just two quite static players up front. Basically I thought they were going to be swamped but they proved me wrong and in fact swamped the audience with a sound that was thick clagging and downright tar-lined. The reverberations coming out the speakers were earth shaking and must have been shaking the very foundations of the venue. The drums battered and thudded away and you can forget about any ideas of demure appearance from Emily Witch her bass did not speak it roared. Vocalist, guitarist Nick, topped it all off yelling and thrusting his fist up towards the heavens and I really thought I had been dropped into a sermon for the damned and the gates of hell were about to open. If anyone in the audience happened to be called Elizabeth Clarke they should have been doubly worried.
So onto the main event the Dorset doomlords that are Electric Wizard. I was glad to catch them here indoors as they seem truly cursed festival wise. Last time I attempted to watch them at High Voltage festival they did not make it back in time to play and just a couple of days ago we learned that not only their forthcoming performance at Sonisphere was off but the whole festival was scuppered. Mind you we would never have got a show like tonight outdoors as they really went for a visual overkill as well as an aural one. Mind you the spider senses were tingling all over, what exactly was that familiar scent wafting from somewhere in the venue, ah very fragrant! Back to the visuals though, the screens were mesmerizing and very arcane with what they were showing. I did not know whether to do a film or music review but The Wizard know their stuff and really would have kept the best of us guessing at the stimulating sights in front of us from 70’s sinema and Eurosleaze greats. One second you were trying to watch Jus Oborn and the next you were distracted by a massive pair of perfect breasts filling the screen. Mind you watching the band was not easy. apart from the top part of Jus’s head which was at times caught in the light the band were silhouettes. Anyone wanting to admire Liz Buckingham and see the intricate tattoo designs of bass player Tas was basically shit out of luck, as for drummer Shaun Rutter, well you could certainly hear him but …. It made the photos interesting to say the least. (Yep was not them, as they have been replaced, as one observant reader pointed out)
To say the music itself was loud would be an understatement and a half. Blood drenched and cold blue the shadowy figures dwelled in the dark mass of the riff as the likes of ‘Supercoven’ unwound far heavier than even songs of such calibre have the right to sound. Bass shook and trembled and we bowed under its weighty mass. It was a slothful opening and one that put those that were not expecting it and any casually observing hipsters who had wandered in firmly in their place and possibly even heading for the doors. ‘Nightchild’ had more of a recognizable melody breezing around it and the spiralling guitar weaves cut through the venue which was now surely full and the vocals shone through adding a splash of light to the moody oppressive textures. The screen kept on transfixing, after all the television screen is the retina of the minds eye as someone once succinctly said. I am not a connoisseur of each and every Lecy Wiz song but noted recent ones such as ‘Black Masses’ and ‘Witchcult Today.’ Sandwiched between these was new single ‘Legalize Drugs And Murder’ a song no doubt endorsed by cult leaders through time. I believe this may have been on sale at the merchandise store but no way I could have kept a single intact without snapping it earlier and by the time I ventured back the stall had been raped and was literally bereft of all merch. Whilst there before heading off I took in the sights, scents and sounds of ‘The Chosen Few’ and possibly the beginning of ‘Funeralopolis’ before needing air and feeling somewhat heady in the extreme staggered out into the cool night air.
All four bands definitely delivered the goods here tonight and I doubt even anyone who was completely and utterly straight edge (I know of at least one band member there who does not partake) could have left the show without feeling a little on the dizzy side. Once this clears the next day and sound comes back to normal whatever memories that were retained are certain to be good ones.