Camden is amidst its normal stench exuding a particular shade of metal tonight. Vader and Hate are playing round the corner at the Underworld and the queue snakes down the road but furtive doom acolytes gather down the alley outside the Black Heart waiting for our particular sermon to begin. It does not do so as early as anticipated which means extra unexpected lubrication time. Conjurer are discussed as an unknown quantity and with a dreadful pun of “I’m sure they’ll be magic” I fully deserved severe castigation. Luckily the band are not far off such a lofty statement. 1st thing noted is a West Ham scarf draped off the drum kit and as they burrowed in with a bass heavy sludge laden tumult I rather hoped the sound would drive more people up here from the bar area downstairs to watch them. It’s a powerful, bruising and battering start and the bass player makes space of the room down the front to play on the dance-floor and contort himself into twisted shapes in time with the music. They pause to announce that the next song is going to be a sad one and true to form it has a bleak and windswept feel about it. Vocals roar, elongated riffs and slow pummelling drums bring the sorrow. With 2 of the band sharing vocals there’s plenty of substance about things and when the track really goes for it and batters away it has the scope to knock you off your feet. ‘A Flesh Weaker Than Ash’ is announced as a long song, meandering riffs slowly build up and then there’s a jagged frenzy of chopping and churning heaviness merging with melodic guitar work outs all dextrously handled. This lot may well be a fairly new band but they have been getting a lot of good support slots lately and tonight it was easy to see why.
It’s good to be able to see Bast properly. Last time at Damnation Festival there wasn’t room to swing a cat down the front and not everyone could even get in the room where they played. No problems tonight which at least meant we could really appreciate them. The trio are incredibly powerful straight away with everything quickly building into an intense miasma that was completely mesmerising but also gritty and like being buried under tonnes of earth. Lush instrumental parts grew into a psychedelic squall oozing off the stage with layers of dry ice billowing after them. Songs from the band’s last album such as Denizens have us bowing down under their weight, the vocals literally roar away and hit the roof of the venue deafening us in the process. Shimmering and glistening guitar parts take things to another level and we lose ourselves in it all. This put me right in the zone and came across as so natural as it exploded into massive drum blasts and jagged bass and guitar work that it pretty much took my breath away. Close to rapturous this definitely deserved a bit more in the way of audience appreciation but I’m not sure what was up with many here tonight, it looked like it would need to take a cattle prod to wake them up.
There’s an interesting Cthulhu sculpted microphone stand taking up space on the front of the stage as The Great Old Ones get ready to take us into the musical mythos of HP Lovecraft. We were up for some French calamari doom but of course I’m only squidding. Last time I caught this band up the road at The Unicorn and they had really impressed. That was a couple of years ago and since then they delivered the excellent Takeli Li and it was from this and AlAzif their debut that they were mixing up the tracks from tonight. Ghostly French spoken word and eerie atmosphere confronts us before we are cast headlong into the frozen wasteland of ‘Antarctica.’ It is quickly evident that any thoughts of how the band were going to be able to follow Bast’s powerful set could be forgotten as the band took things up another notch. This was a pulsating mass of cold iciness with strobes and dry ice lighting things up sporadically on the stage with the ghastly figures of the players looming through it all. Obviously the band have upped their game from the already impressive first encounter I had with them and all the people who had already left the early finished Vader show who did not come in here to witness this (at a bargain £3 extra) should be kicking themselves. Those that did were no doubt floored and I knew that I had well and truly picked the right show to go to tonight.
These ‘Visions Of R’lyeh’ were going to haunt for a long time and the tracks excellent melody really shone through here along with a passage of particular groove laden heavy riffing. Later we are greeted by the sounds of the sea as ‘Jonas’ churns into its juddering guitar parts breaking bodies on the rocks with sea sickening lurches and horrible wretched rasps. There’s plenty of atmosphere and you can close your eyes and imagine the scenes, this one being part Stewart Gordon’s Dagon and part Mariano Baino’s Dark Waters. Now if the band ever play in front of a screen showing one of these films count me in, that would be a trip. Not that it was far from one here by now and at least the rest of the audience seemed to be appreciating things more. Everything came out in a blur towards the end, the band played somewhere in the region of five mighty and epic numbers and completely blew me away. Before falling out the venue I waited patiently for someone to come back to the merch stand to procure treasure in the form of that last album. Of all the bands with a central theme dedicated to old Howard Philip there’s none better than this lot.
(Review and photos © Pete Woods)