The first Deathwave gig in the city for almost half a year, and welcome return for the headliners who had made a seismic impact with their epic doom/death metal when they played here previously exactly a year ago. I didn’t know any of the supports but as there had been a good selection last time I again trusted the judgement of promoters to introduce us to some more interesting stuff.
After lurking outside Tesco’s for a while I got a lift over with my friends, we discovered the nouvelle cuisine of “red salt” at a takeaway, then found the venue. It was a new location for the gigs and for us (although immediately next door to a previous haunt Basement 20) and it was a pretty cool bar with retro gaming machines and technology adorning the walls, while we had hiphop and “Mighty Thor” cartoons shown on DVD. Good beer selection but at £4 a throw they had to be.
Soon we were through to the back room with a stage of modest height but decent size and the opening band, Tor Marrock on. They had trekked further from us, from Aberystwyth, and that in itself led me to speculate what “metal scene” exists out in the wild west. They had a gothic doom metal styling, elements of Paradise Lost but you could see elements of varied taste combined into their mix, almost classic metal lead guitar and some pretty simple drumming from the young drummer. There was a definite vision and conviction for an atmospheric sound, but perhaps limited playing opportunities have not enabled them to get overly comfortable on stage yet.
My own experience of a trip to Weston super Mare with Skinflick was that it was a bit like the Colwyn Bay of the West Country, and maybe that’s why I hadn’t yet heard of its denizens My Silent Wake despite them being going 10 years and having a few albums out. That was pleasurably rectified here as from the off they displayed an impressive heaviness and intelligent structuring of their own brand of progressive doom/death. Initially in opener “Burning” there were elements of Bolt Thrower riffing before they progressed into more expansive and anguished passages more akin to My Dying Bride. Extra poignancy added with the frontman revealing he was at his dad’s funeral a couple of days previously, but the cathartic experience is ultimately enjoyable. Pick up one of their albums on vinyl.
Also with a similar length career Cardiff’s The Drowning had a jovial confidence on stage which was a good contrast to their miserable music. In conversation with them earlier they were saying how the doom metal tag doesn’t necessarily sit easy with all they do, and it was true that I found them hard to specifically pigeon hole within the heavy ends of the spectrum. There was a repetitive hypnotic vibe to some of the riffing, and when slowed further with the roared death vocals over the top it brought to mind some of the funereal artists like Evoken. And yet they could still pick up the tempo to more of a retro groove as well, a good mix all round.
Finally, the something special that is Eye Of Solitude. The Londoner’s expressed their pleasure at being back too before the lumbering colossus of their tortuously slow yet wonderfully evocative riffs roll over us. If the instrumentation didn’t make for a heavy enough wall of noise the backing layers of anthemic waves of orchestral volume uplift the whole sound. But the heaviest element of all is the vocals from frontman, an earthshaking rumble felt through the body, picture dragging the body of a loved one face down on a gravel path to eventually let them float off into some black lake of tears. Incredible stuff, unfortunately interrupted by technical difficulties from the backing for a few minutes, but then we are consoled with an exclusive airing of brand new material. For all the lengthy epic nature of their drawn out dirges it does seem to reach its conclusion relatively quickly, perhaps testament to how easy it is to drift off on the lulling torment of their tunes of suffering. Ultimately for me it’s not depressive, just a super sonic experience all round.