Tuesday 21 July 2015

Live Review: Eyehategod, Siege Mentality, Nomad @ Sound Control, Manchester (UK) 26 June 2015

A cornerstone for so much music that found solace, inspiration and genius in the sludge infested grumblings of their music, EyeHateGod arrive in Manchester to something of a hero’s welcome. The weightiness of tonight’s event has only been intensified with the news that local boys Nomad would be opening the show. It’s a once in a lifetime chance to share the stage with their idols, one of a plethora of local bands here tonight who would have loved the very same slot, such is the love this city has for the New Orleans noisemakers. From Ten Foot Wizard to Arke, Pist and beyond, so many local bands are here tonight, a family atmosphere beckoning within Sound Control’s sweaty confines.

Outside before the show, Manchester’s ‘rock quarter’ was overflowing with familiar faces, the entire metal community out in force it seemed. They soon filter inside however to witness a momentous moment for Nomad. The hypnotic, almost meditative slow and sludgy doom of Nomad is lapped up lovingly, the guitar and bass tones treacle-thick, although that muddiness doesn't always translate the riffs onto stage too well, a distinct air of clarity often lacking. But longer, more explorative numbers like the set-closer ‘Corpse Dragger’ pull me into a dark, contemplative state of mind in which I dwell with a smile.  It's been eight months since their last Manchester show and so plenty of people have turned out to welcome them back onto home turf; the energy and receptiveness of the crowd and the band's tightness and all round powerful professionalism effervescent. 

Atop those sludgy tones and Hayley McIntyre's plodding yet pounding drum work is a vocal style that is rasping and harsh, sounding more akin to terribly produced, tinny black metal albums in a way. But it works and it's given them a real sense of defining character. The musicianship isn't technical, but it's alluring and it captures you. A band I've seen plenty of times now, they always deliver with a cocky swagger, vocalist Nash very much the Phil Anselmo lovable dick style leader of the pack. It's a faultless set, that aforementioned set closer particularly brutal and memorable.

Siege Mentality is a surprise package for this bill. Now I love variety and I wholeheartedly promote the avoidance of linearity of bills - why not throw a fast and punk driven heavy arse band onto a line up which resolutely follows the whole 'tune low, play slow' methodology?, it's fun. But tonight it doesn't land on my ear drums all too comfortably. Between songs there is no crowd interaction, just quiet and awkward pauses; their wildcard aesthetics not quite gelling with the majority of the crowd. They do no work in giving off a sense of their personality, of who the people behind the music are to win us over either. There are some whose heads rage about in a whirl of hair and excitement, trying their damnedest not to spill overpriced beer from their plastic cups. There are some who enjoy it, who really dig it, but the bigger picture doesn't particularly look fantastic for a band bellowing at a slightly leftfield demographic as far as their musical philosophy is concerned.

So here I stand, chants of "EyeHateGod" reverberating around the room, fists pumping in unison. Here I stand surrounded by happiness, by people having a ball and a biscuit seeing a much admired band make light work of a crushing show.  The band is on fine form, those chunky riffs harmonised and sounding so organically powerful, so truthful. This is an act that makes the noise that makes sense to them, the musical channelling of their souls.
While EyeHateGod play with passion and a complete and utter lack of quarter, the circle pit opens and the crowd get lost in the jams of ‘30$ Bag’ and ‘Dixie Whiskey,’ both messier than a 14 year old’s bedroom and in the best possible way. I hear the band, I hear how tight they are and I can see they're going down a storm - like heroin in rehab - there's a real sense of occasion in the air tonight. What’s truly amazing is that, live, in the flesh, these songs don’t just sound like merciless metallic slabs to get down and lose your shit too. They sound heavy through their importance and individualism too. If you were to speak to everyone here in the crowd, they’ll be able to tell you a personal story, or about a good memory in which these guttural tones, like during a brilliant ‘Take As Needed For Pain’ have played a key role. It’s mystifying. 

It was a killer night; three bands giving it their all, with the headline act oozing class and a polished, professional brilliance.

Long live EyeHateGod.

Words: Phil Weller