Monday 7 April 2014

Live Review : Bast, Dead Existence, Indian, Conan, Electrowerkz, Islington, London, UK, 22/3/2014

The Electrowerkz is a warehouse/lockup type venue just around the back of Angel station. Labyrinthine in layout, it is not the most organic of places to allow fantasy doom to flourish... but nonetheless, that is what happened on Saturday 22nd March 2014.

Arriving on time to catch Bast's set, I was not let down. Having previously been in the band that was first support to them at the Unicorn, Camden a couple of months back, I very much wanted to see what they could do live- I had to leave early that night to get a train so missed out.

Going on at 7pm did not do them many favours in terms of attendance but those who were there were into it and enjoyed a superbly delivered set of atmospheric blackened/doom/sludge metal. The band played very cohesively, with different band members handling vocals as appropriate. I was particularly impressed with drummer Jon Lee- he played fluidly and mathematically with good phrasing and feel (you can't teach that) he made a basic set up sound much, much bigger. Their forty minutes of allocated time flew by, converting the audience or solidifying any existing links. A class act with an excellent full length out in “Spectres”. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Sadly, I missed Dead Existence's set as I was interviewing Jon of Conan so I apologetically have to say that I did not see them. I can only say that the venue was filling up and after their set I heard quite a few positive write ups. I'll catch you next time guys.

Indian arrived to the stage late due to, from what I could make out, difficulty with onstage sound. They only ended up doing perhaps 25 minutes, but what minutes they were! Intense, horrific and unpredictable- the band started in an Eyehategod style; lurching into action as if an unstoppable machine was being started up. Having not heard them before, I was converted; the band gave their all and got the room firmly on their side. The Americans delivered a powerful and noisy set of heavy sludge/alt/weirdness. Another 25 minutes would not have been amiss at all!

Finally, Conan took to the stage just after 10pm. The sound was enormous- and crystal clear. Rarely have I heard cymbals so cleanly in a live venue- credit to the front of house sound. Crown Of Talons fairly ripped out of the speakers to a packed and sold out venue. I lurked, as per, at the back to watch the crowd swell to jam-packed proportions as the intro riff rang out. The audience began to move as one. Heads nodded, then banged. Crowd members shouted along as Messrs Davis and Fielding utilised brute force riffage and throat shredding vocals. Fielding seems to have slipped right in to the band's lineup. All three hooded figures cohered as one giant noise machine. More material from “Blood Eagle” followed with devastating results. Jon's claim that the mid tempo stuff seemed to move the crowd more was proved accurate as Foehammer hammered friends and foes alike in the crowd. The bass drums of Paul O'Neill clicked impressively as the band reached a gear that many would have been surprised by only two years ago. The crowd were very into it- there is nothing like a rammed room moving as one organism and that is what happened.

Gravity Chasm was a highlight for me (as it is on “Blood Eagle”) as the groove was deadly and the conviction of the band unshakeable. This is often the key to metal in a live setting: are you convinced? I was. Songs about wizards and warriors may not be your thing, but that wont matter- the band play with a heartfelt honesty and delivered on every level. A good gig can make someone's week, month or even year. Having had a busy and stressful week at work this was the perfect antidote. All others in attendance seemed to agree as people forgot about the hassle of everyday life and rocked out to ideas of victory, magic and might. 

I will be eternally disappointed to have to have left the gig a little early (22.45hrs) to get back to catch a train (the scourge of my gig going, it seems). The gig will not be forgotten in a hurry, though. Powerful and uplifting, Conan reaps souls and improves lives. 

Words by : Richard Maw