Wednesday 2 April 2014

Live Review : Bastard of the Skies, Bast, Corrupt Moral Altar, Conan, Kraak Gallery, Manchester, UK, 19/3/2014

Finding Kraak Gallery was an odd experience. Entering was an odd experience. Luckily, normality was restored when I managed to get a bottle of beer and take in opening band, Bastard of the Skies.

BOTS are a three piece from Blackburn. They purvey a sound that has elements of melody and harmonics, but ultimately they are a devastatingly heavy band that could easily be tagged as sludge metal; no bad thing. The bass rumbles and rolls over vicious drumming whilst the guitar sound brings dense and bombastic riffs. The band played to the assembling crowd which gave all their attention. A thirty minute set was continuous in its delivery. No break between tracks, or any in between song chat made for a relentless thirty minutes. As the set ended BOTS were greeted warmly by the gathering crowd.

Next up were Bast. A band that I personally was very excited to see again after their monstrously good turn at FOAD Fest in Manchester at the start of the month. Again taking a thirty minute slot, the band played a small chunk of their epic album; Spectres. Closing with album closer, Outside the Circles of Time, the band sounded stunning in their doom/black metal approach. Although the band relies heavily on these sounds there is so much more going on within the bands sound, the ethereal build up of the songs and the ability to segue between tempos seamlessly is a quality to be admired. With vocals being shared the diversity in the band is what is making them one band on the UK metal scene to really keep your eye on.

Arriving monumentally late for tonight’s gig, having battled with the idiocy of football night traffic, there is an almost tag team like segue into the next band, Dominic tapping me in, to cover review duties for the next two bands.  Disappointed to have missed BOTS set, having featured their luscious filth a number of times for The Sludgelord, I was rewarded with the tail end of Bast’s set.  The sound of the band mirrored that of their excellent Spectres album, slow bludgeoning riffs juxtaposed against the more aggressive black metal elements.  The band as a unit was an incredible proposition and with every future performance, based upon what I observed.  Bast has a great future ahead of them. 

Next up were Corrupt Moral Altar, a sound more akin to grind core, their approach is breakneck.  Guitars resonating like that of classic Wolverine Blues era, Entombed (when is that ever a bad thing), CMA were a tumultuous din from the outset.  The scything bombast of the drums, vocals akin to an S & M enthusiast ingesting glass for kicks, the band deliver frenetic and lacerating anthems.  Their set is a punishing experience, perhaps akin to a withdrawing from heroin, disagreeable, dissonant and harsh.   Their noise was often tangential at times, with the occasional slow beat down interspliced with the chaos, but at the root of it all, is a sound of extreme power violence.  Recently signed to Season of Mist, these noise terrorists are a revolutionary doctrine of destruction. 

Tonight, judging by the dense pummelling nature of this evening’s performance, Conan somehow manage to eclipse even their latest offering, Blood Eagle.  Live!  Conan, destroy.  Crown of Talons the lead track is a brilliant start, the opening riff sounding like Godzilla ploughing through a dense metropolis.  Paul O Neill’s drums have never sounded better, snapping like a ravenous fly trap ensnaring its prey, it is coma inducing stuff.  Indeed that is the measure of the whole evening.  This is power of damaging proportions, oppressive and elephantine. A seismic mass that would make even the Richter scale nervous.  A highlight as ever is the brilliant Hawk as a Weapon and tonight it does not disappoint, the only difference, that it has grown another set of balls.  Seriously you could almost drown in the distorted ether of sound.  Punishing stuff indeed.  A set comprising of Blood Eagle in its entirety, it is a measure of how confident Conan feel about their new material and who can argue, the record is incredible.  Slipping in like three hooded warriors from the Cimmerian wastelands, Conan unleashed their full arsenal upon us.  Abandoning all sense of control, Conan perform a method of torture and execution upon the Kraak Gallery tonight, The Blood Eagle!!  Breaking our ribs to resemble blood stain wings.  Tonight Conan, truly are barbarians and turn in a breathtaking and blisteringly HEAvy performance.  You have been warned.    

BOTS & BAST by : Dominic Walsh

CMA & Conan by : Aaron Pickford

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