(review by mwj)

Invited to Leeds for the weekend with the carrot of quality local bands and the stick of a bottle of Jager to beat me with, my resistance was futile. The festival was in (or out of) town for the weekend but this didn’t seem to have affected either tonight’s or tomorrows gigs, both being of a more obscure and underground nature than the big commercial ‘ho down.
Literally, as it’s in a black painted basement. Had been here many years back for something I can’t now remember, an omen perhaps for more traditional shenanigans… Anyway, rumblings from below herald the rising of the Sloth Hammer. A determinedly experimental ad-lib approach although rooted in chronic crawling doom, led by the drawn out distortion of the bass interwoven with the standing drummer battering out minimal but fierce rhythms, or taking a wander with his cymbal into the heart of us all just to ensure we get that ringing sensation for long after. This bass basis is overlaid with two brutally harsh vocals and a table top of circuit bent electronics (including a haunted teapot and power drill) that layer up the sound, though the mix doesn’t do this justice till later and by their own admission they wanted more nastiness all round. Good job we get to see more of the same at the upcoming Blastonbury festival here in town.

Been a couple of years since a Damnation warm-up and my first seeing Tree of Sores. Some changes afoot as I notice the girl bassist has gone but otherwise their style remains pretty similar. For me, a hefty element of Godflesh/Jesu vibe in the waves of heavy guitar tone washing over and the rhythmic approach, the vocals also an occasional added layer. The drummer is onto his second set but there’s more structure to this set, and he gets into some hypnotic grooves. But overall it’s not derivative (especially as the main man claims after not to have any JKB his collection, although the drummer is well into them), definitely got their own interesting sound going on, though the set is pretty short this time.

Finally, the two piece Khuda, residents of Leeds and Finland allegedly. Instrumental and just a guitar and drums they still produce some superb technical eclectic noise, brought forward onto the floor of the room for all the more intimate impact. They shift from mellow effected interludes to stirring build-ups to out and out heavy phreak-outs, with the excellent telepathic or ingrained tightness of duos I have seen before like Halo or Afrirampo. The drummer is a force of nature too, lit from beneath to create some mad motion blurs of his intense arm work. I pick up their older “Palingenesia” album on lovely green vinyl as a worthy souvenir of a great evenings entertainment all round.