You see that guy? The one in front of you. Don’t stare but if you look closely you’ll recognise him from that doom band you saw last week. Hold on, he has a beard, meaning he is in 2 doom bands. Okay, jokes aside, let’s just say there are multiple doom bands playing doom-orientated only gigs in London at the moment.
There isn’t anything particular wrong with one-metal-genre gigs, in fact this brain can just about recall several top nights that involved all doom or all thrash bands over the past few weeks and months but this is something that the live/club night ‘Retribution Alive’ at the Intrepid Fox is not about.
The metal genre is a bubbling hot tub of sub-genres, some lazily made up by fly-by-night internet journalists, some have evolved all by their lonesome, the bands involved kicking down the barriers to enhance or breakout of said sub-genre and some have survived the test of time and are now as much part of the musical landscape as the likes of Maiden or Sabbath are to the history of metal itself. Retribution Alive is not about any of these sub-genres specifically but more to do with the mix and combinations that make metal music in 2014 so exciting.
Openers ELEPHANT TREE (8.5/10) approach doom and stoner with a refreshingly open heart, one that pours out its contents all over the music that emanates down from the stage. ‘Attack of the Altaica’ showcases everything that is good about the band in a mesmerising 8 and a bit minutes, mixing delicious Sabbath-style groove with an un-missable melody that vibrates off of a quiet to loud dynamic, before a Zeppelin-like crawl leads you into a false sense of calm, complete with sitar that lead singer Riley MacIntyre uses as an integral part of the overall sound rather than a cheap cut and paste attempt at being different.
While some acts think stretching a riff out for ten minutes is enough, ET don’t just phone home a repetitive sound, instead the likes of ‘Vlaakith’ spruce up the 70s influences that are so obviously breaking out and pulsating through the music with some fine soloing and along with ‘Lament’ display almost trippy atmospherics that wouldn’t be out of place at a Sleep rehearsal on a baking hot Sunday afternoon in July.
‘In Suffering’ doesn’t allow you to lay back and relax thanks to some throttling vocals that give the set some heavier momentum before ‘The Sead’ finishes off a performance that leaves the crowd, other bands members and bar staff transfixed. If there is any justice in the music industry Elephant Tree will be playing much larger venues soon.
Over the safety barrier and down the cliff, washed up on the jagged rocks and buried beneath a swirling cloud of fog ATVM (7) take their time to fully erupt but when they do their raw blackened-death attack is impressively in your face, their rabid fan base almost grinding their teeth with glee as broken glass sharp riffs cut at the air and the throats of non-believers.
‘Finisher of the World’ snaps necks with its horror-strewn melody and Behemoth-sized heart, controlling the crowd as if words from an ancient satanic script are being read and carried out in our very presence.
With a few more miles under their collective belts ATVM could be an even scarier prospect.
South-East London thrashers DETOXEN (7.5) have finally got that monkey off their backs and churned out the album (‘Victims’, released in October) their fans have been waiting for what seems like an eternity. ‘Bodycount’ kicks things off and signals what to expect for the next half hour; fast, unforgiving riffs and solos wrapped up in a thrash-tastic bundle of enthusiasm that has never waned through the years.
What really strikes a chord with the Intrepid Fox brethren is the triple whammy of the pounding ‘Overdose’, a track that Metallica in 2014 would kill em all for, ‘Thrash Til Death’ which adds some balance to the set thanks to its slow intro and ‘Victims’, which leads to widespread bloodshed throughout the venue; metaphorically speaking of course – this isn’t a hardcore night after all! ‘Desert Warfare’ rounds things off and it’s obvious by the reaction of the crowd that Detoxen walk away with some new fans tonight. They are back at the Fox supporting Nightlord on the 6th December.
When assessing the main attributes of say My Dying Bride, The Smiths and Paradise Lost you could make a good case of each band having an ability to grab hold of a moment of misery and turn it into a melancholic chorus of utter despondency. Obviously each band does this (or used to) in their own unique way. London’s EYE OF SOLITUDE (8) grab such miasmic feelings and stretch them into dark tapestries of despair until you are ready to sell your soul, just to escape such dark feelings.
Opener ‘Where the Descent Began’ immediately hits you with the brash but solid as brick vocals from Daniel Neagoe, crushing the barrier of people in front in one fell swoop. It’s not long before the slower, keyboard-led mid-section, in its all intoxicating glory descends like a blackened flag on some cold November night, floating from the stage between the crowd and filtering through every nook and cranny in the Intrepid Fox as if searching for a weakness to aim its depressed, aural mantra.
If the gathered hordes are not already slipping into a pit of despair ‘I Sat in Silence’ hammers home a series of quiet-to-heavy slow motion punches, each and every riff almost bleeding with sorrow itself. If you wander off, have a chat or buy a drink during such an onslaught you break the spell but it’s not a spell you want to break as such an action is like being shaken violently from a nightmare. ‘The Haunting’ and new track ‘Loss’ end the night on a low, despondent note and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
As the Retribution club night kicks off some but not many shuffle into the night having just witnessed an intoxicating mix of stoner, thrash, blackened-death and funeral doom in a tight melding of the metal genre or we could just say a bloody good night of metal!
Roll on December!