Monday, 24 March 2014

Live Review : Bong Cauldron, Corrosion of Conformity, The Brudenel, Leeds, UK, 14/3/2014

Coming along two at a time, like a proverbial bus, having waiting ages for one to arrive.  I headed back to Brudenel, Leeds for my second show within the last month, having caught Kylesa during their most recent UK Jaunt.  The venue kinda resonated with me following that show, I took home a great vibe from the place and as result, I was more than eager to return when it was announced COC would be returning to our shores from the City of Oaks.  Problems with entry aside (cheers to the dude, for eventually hooking me up), I had met up with cool peoples, YO! And tonight, couldn’t fail to deliver.  Could it? 

(C) Jez Walshaw

Wandering down front, I had been reliably tipped off (Thanks Jez) about Bong Cauldron, who acted as main support.  Locals to Leeds, this doom, drone, stoner 3 piece recently signed to Superhot Records have created quite the level of buzz about them.  Like the homecoming of some herculean warrior returning to Mount Olympus, Bong Cauldron delivered in spades.  From the outset the disquiet of feedback gave way to majestic sounding stoner doom riffs.  Immediately inducing head nodding the bull dog from the insurance advert would be proud of.  This trio meant business from the get go, a measured dual vocal approach from clean to guttural screams was vicious and melodious when mixed together, with sabbathian drone of guitars and bass perfectly executed.  Throughout the set, the drummer was immaculate, never failing to miss a beat and with the chugging riffs, this was doom music of the highest order. 

At times their sound was reminiscent of early Sleep with added scarifying discord from the guitar, the crowd and indeed I was immediately drawn to this brand of aggro doom, with the bassists vocals having a hardcore flavour spliced with a side order of bludgeon from guitars, bass and drums.  The thing that was striking about the sound was the high end mix, Bong Cauldron just sounded huge, aggressive and Neanderthal. 

Bong Cauldron were amped like a Sunn O))) stack, with the drone of stoner riffs rupturing your eardrums, sounding like a possessed buzzsaw intent on severing limbs (Maximum Overdrive, people). 

Finishing off with a decedent instrumental, Bong Cauldron were exceptionally good and with a haze of smoke, the crowd was bouyant, dare I say it under the spell from their batch of stoner brew. 

(C) Jez Walshaw

So having witness COC almost 18 years ago, supporting a little known band called Metallica, tonight in Leeds is only the second time I have seen this legendary band.  To say this gig was hotly anticipated is a goddam understatment and with the all too familiar backdrop, it was game time.  With drummer, Reed Mullin dressed in his The Obsessed Tshirt, COC kick things with “7 Days”, albeit a momentary intro if you will, with the opening riffs tantalising us before they hit full stride with “The Money Changers”.  Mike Dean delivered from the outset and despite Woody Weatherman’s white SG baring more battle scars than a war veteran, the tone of the southern riffs just enveloped you and were truly monstrous.  There is a unique garage band flavour to their performance tonight, it exuded a cool loose swagger and Weatherman’s deft solos were stunning.  “On Your Way” from their much underrated “In The Arms of God” record sounded huge, indeed it is only after I revisit the record, do I get a sense of the awesomeness of the performance.  Mike Dean’s vocals are pitch perfect. 

Tonight, COC are kicking out the jams like a tight well oiled machine.  A flavourful degree of crush blended with old school hardcore.  “Strong Medicine Too Late” from their Scion Presents record, “Megalodon” is a treat and sounds fresh, Reed Mullin never missed a beat and the interplay between the 3 is a stunning proposition.  This is no bullshit poser free music boys n girls.

“Deliverance” get possibly the biggest response, causing a ripple effect, the crowd bouncing spontaneously to that sumptuous groove.  The crowd is amped for a nod to this classic record and the pit goes crazy.  The unmistakable tone of Weatherman’s solo is something to behold, then we’re straight into ‘Rat City’.  This music certainly has crossover appeal and to be at close quarters with these legends is real highlight, hardcore, punk, southern rock, sludge, every song sounds stunning.  30 years, many lineup changes and yet still they sound as fresh as ever.  I must say that watching Mike Dean at work is a lesson in understated badassery and COC were phenomenal.  Layered with songs from their hardcore past COC turn the Brudenel into CBGBs, the pit going crazy and yet the switch between genres was seamless, one minute break neck pacing of hardcore to a brief burst of “Vote With a Bullet”, possibly their heaviest track to date.  Another highlight was ‘Your Tomorrow’, one of my favourite tracks from their S/T record, this was a brilliant example of what this band are still capable of.  With a 3 song burst from ‘Animosity’, we get ‘Priest Brains’ and finally ‘Technocracy’. COC complete a memorable and monumental set. 20 years is a long time, but with a performance like this, COC reminded me just what an important and essential band they really are. 

Words by :  Aaron Pickford