The final show in a series of six dates together, Slabdragger and OHHMS give their tour a sweaty send off at Camden’s Black Heart. Stoner/sludge trio, Old Man Lizard, kick things off; the first of three performances in a test of endurance for guitarist/vocalist Jack Newnham, who also drums for both Meadows and Slabdragger. The blast of the air con is soon overpowered as the room fills out and the atmosphere becomes stiflingly tropical. This provides the perfect backdrop for Old Man Lizard to let loose their volatile mix of bluesy stoner rock and countrified sludge, reminiscent of a hybrid of Torche, Kyuss and Baroness. Fuzzy, slow-paced riffs explode into thunderous gallops of heaviness, complemented by vocals that err towards psychedelia.
The walls are beginning to drip sweat and people are retreating downstairs for fear of passing out, yet the venue still seems impossibly full as Essex based powerhouse, Meadows, take to the stage. By far the fastest and most aggressive of the four bands playing tonight, Meadows add a punchy tinge of crust punk to the evening as they blast through a high octane performance of muddied yet powerful riffs – think Cro-Mags meets Eyehategod and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the racket this four piece are making. Now onto his second set of the night, drummer Newnham looks completely unphased by the sweltering heat, managing to beat the shit out of the drumkit with an enthusiasm that embarrasses those that are merely watching, yet sliding down the walls from heat exhaustion.
There are (probably) banana plantations cropping up around the merch stand as the room gets warmer still from the draw of Canterbury natives OHHMS. Despite being the newest formed of the bands on this line-up, the five-piece radiate confidence and take total command of the stage. Deafening riffs boom out into the crowd as they play through 18-minute long epics, and frontman Paul Waller entertains, not just with vocals that demand the full attention of spectators, but with a genuine heartfelt performance that incorporates disjointed and primitive movements. OHHMS are a difficult band to pigeonhole, yet their fusion sludge, doom and psych rock is uniquely progressive and you can genuinely tell they feel every bit as passionate about the message their music conveys as they are about playing it.
Not deterred by the veritable slip and slide of perspiration on the floor, a large group within the audience break out into a pit with a few plucky individuals attempting to crowd surf. The backdrop for this display is of course headline act Slabdragger. Opening with new material, the London three piece play with a tight professionalism that is telling of their experience. It’s clear to see from the manic expressions planted on the faces of both bassist and guitarist that they’re having every bit as much fun as the crowd. The energy that erupts forth from all three members doesn’t seem to be hampered at all by the clammy conditions, in fact their messy dirge of rumbling basslines and chugging guitar tone actually seems to thrive in the humidity. Jack soldiers through his third performance of the evening in a heroic fashion, his minimalistic drumming bolstering older songs, and crowd favourites, such as ‘Erroneous Maximus’. The perfect display of how good time metal should feel and sound – this feels more like a party than a gig for those that have managed to survive the high temperatures.
(Review by Angela Davey)