I would have loved to have made the venue last night and can’t be the only person thinking that tonight’s headliners and Pist On would have made the perfect double header. I am sure I saw the latter share a stage with Type O Negative back in the day and it strikes as a bit of a missed opportunity. Still who are us mere mortals to know if there is anything in the way of bad blood under the Brooklyn Bridge between the two outfits and arranging tours is a tricky enough proposition as it is especially with so many bands playing around town at the moment. I was also a bit surprised that A Pale Horse Named Death were playing the smaller Bar Academy, they absolutely rammed the Borderline last time they came here but it seemed wise and we all just about fitted in to the room.

First up are UK support Alunah and I was not complaining at this in the slightest having not yet seen the band with new singer Siân Greenaway. This is also the group’s first gig with Dean Ashton on guitar so it would seem that two founding members David and Sophie Day have both left and it is only drummer Jake left over from the early days. Starting with ‘Amber And Gold’ the early attendees quickly soaked up the atmosphere and the band gained confidence as it was clear they were being warmly received. Siân’s vocals are strong and have no trouble cutting through front to back of the place and are certainly capable of filling a much bigger place without a shadow of a doubt. The band only get a short set but it seems like all newer material that was played tonight, does this mean that the past songs are not going to be aired any more due to the old members having left? Perhaps Alunah are starting completely fresh. By third number ‘Trapped And Bound it didn’t matter too much as doomy riffs and hypnotic vocals with sassy command nearly gave us the impetus to dance around. Feet were certainly being tapped and as I got used to the voice I couldn’t help notice some similarities to Gitane DeMone ex of Christian Death but I could just be showing my age here. Over all too quickly with a cover song, all that’s left to say is that Alunah are still very much with us and tonight played rather a Wicked Game.

The tour support Transport League is a name from the past, I may even have seen them years ago somewhere like Dynamo Open Air. As they wait to go on stage I observe that there is probably more beard per square inch on them than ZZ Top but they ain’t from Texas but Sweden. As I get accustomed to their sound which was excellent all night unlike the bloody stage lighting a big grin started to spread across my mush. Unlike the dour stance of the headliners you can’t but smile and be invigorated by songs such as ‘Holy Motherfucker’ and this league were transporting us (sorry) to all the right places. Perhaps you could look on them as a similar sorta proposition as Nashville Pussy but with less boobage and there was no doubt about it they were hungry to go, no 1st night tour jitters just the urge to give us a good old ass kicking. There some cleaner vocal harmonics and a slight change of tempo for ‘Thousand Eyes And One’ and new song ‘Monster Human’ came at us over the hill in the catchy stakes and stomped hard and heavy. Some riffs suddenly sounded liked cribbed Zep guitar licks and had them veering close to parody and there are some head of motor elements further down the line. Playing full tilt boogie from beginning to end Transport League are good old boys party band and a half, even if I did groan at some of the song titles like ‘Cannibal Holobeast’ they certainly cheered us up before the headliners brought us plummeting back down to earth.

Of course I’m not being serious and A Pale Horse Named Death had already cheered me up no end selling new album ‘When The World Becomes Undone’ at a very reasonable £10, that’s significantly less than 2 pints in this venue! There’s time despite a 10 PM club curfew for plenty of songs and lots of chat and apart from being peeved by the damned red light shining in his face all night (and the reason for very few photos) Sal Abruscato proves a more than amiable, humble and genuine all round nice host. There’s a certain punk rock approach with the group stopping and starting at the beginning after songs but it all seemed to be partly to just have a chat and interact with the audience, one that Sal is obviously stoked by the reaction they are giving and states that he would have loved to play us a whole two hour set if time allowed. That absolutely sublime title track from the new album comes early and melts hearts with its gorgeous melody and from here on in we are all well and truly in the bands grip. There are obviously memories of those who are no longer with us mentioned and no doubt a certain Peter Steele would be beaming down at us watching former band mates Sal and drummer John Kelly carrying on in style like this. It also brings back memories of the past for me seeing Carnivore years back in this very venue.

The band are tight and the riffs are doomy, and gloomy just the way we like them. New songs are already firm friends and that sliding guitar riff on Love The Ones You Hate and the chug of the number is instantly familiar. Type O Negative and Life Of Agony fans have naturally been drawn to the band but it goes much further back, in fact as far as The Beatles in my mind when I lose myself to the groups heady numbers. ‘In The Sleeping Death’ proves that what is essentially a ballad can hit just as hard as something more in the face and we are all at one in this musical tomb. Shallow Graves are dug burying us deep and the new songs are proving great, the fact so many of them are being aired mattering not a jot. A speech that is down on humanity is given “we have got it wrong, man is destined to destroy itself, suicide, NO, stay alive motherfuckers.” No arguments with those sentiments. We do go back in time ‘Pill Head’ putting in an appearance from first album ‘And Hell Will Follow Me’ and new one ‘Splinters’ follows it down to the dirt proving a hard drinking song and a half. Full of great quotes Sal pipes up with the words “I guess we all have something in common, we are all miserable” pointing out wryly that misery does love company. Taking us back once more to ‘When Crows Descend Upon You’ it’s certainly been an emotional night and with this one almost like grunge never happened. Sal’s asking for weed, talking about his fucked up country and chatting to us about Brexit the night is however drawing to a close. Typically the lighting guy wakes up drenching the stage in miserable cold blue. We are going out on a high note though a song about Killing an ex-girlfriend, take it tongue in cheek or be offended that’s up to you. Personally I just want to rock out one last time to a song that is totally infectious and with a Crazy Horses strum that reminds me again how far this music stretches back. With 2 more UK dates, a stop in Switzerland, Belgium and a load in Germany let’s hope the misery spreads and infects Europe in style. If you get the chance, don’t be sitting this one out.

Pete Woods