Words: Gary Lukes
Photos: Antony Roberts
Yob/Dark Castle/Kongh/Dead Existence
London Purple Turtle – Monday, 10th October 2011
Despite establishing themselves as scene stalwarts of late, this was actually the first time I’d been exposed to Dead Existence in a live setting. Opening with an elongated, spacious instrumental section, the band gradually build the tension; slowly turning the screw before hammering it into more familiar territory and nose-diving deep into raging sludge.
The second track, however, saw the band wading into shallower waters. And it’s here that they truly seemed to find their flow. Drawing influences from various sources such as stoner, hardcore and traditional doom and incorporating them into their noxious compound of hateful, southern-style sludge metal.
Kongh are immense. Weaving the occasional spacious, serpentine rhythm between gargantuan slabs of guitar riffing, bleeding noise and operating at a volume sure to reduce eardrums to mush. If Neurosis and Yob had got down and dirty in some Swedish backalley, Kongh might have been the sludge-smeared bastard born from their loins; as their hefty mix of sludge and post-metal was not far dislocated from the glorious cacophony of tonight’s headliners.
It takes a ton of temerity (and no small amount of talent) for a two-piece band to even attempt to evoke the enormous sound of doom. Following in the dual footsteps of accomplished duos such as Black Cobra, Eagle Twin and Pombagira, Dark Castle commence their conjurations amongst a haze of effects.
Vocalist/Guitarist Stevie Floyd takes centre stage, her haunting howls lurking menacingly under tormented riffing; possessed, pained and masked in malevolence. But the band has an uncanny knack of fusing their ferocity with the sinisterly psychedelic. At times, they possesses a sound that rises into the ether, floating menacingly above the audience and anchored only by the powerful percussion and grievous dueling growls. It’s a sound that, in lesser hands, could easily relapse into repetition. But to their credit, the band conduct their material with aplomb; holding the majority of the audience entranced with material taken from both full length releases.
But Yob weren‘t about to be upstaged. The band launched their offensive with the bouncing bomb of “Quantum Mystic“; the staccato groove impelling the heads massed before the stage to practically lurch off their shoulders. It’s a massive statement of intent and the intensity of the set only increased from there. The cannonade of material absolutely pummeled those in attendance. The vocals howl and bellow during “Prepare the Ground”, beckoning you to oblivion. Churning bass and thunderous drums engulf the venue and accompany guitar lines that could drag tides with lunar force. Yob blast through their set like a daisy cutter, leveling the audience with wave after wave of powerful riffs that pound into the pit of your stomach.
It hasn’t been unusual to see the words “spiritual” and “ritualistic“ utilised when describing the Oregon natives latest opus, “Atma”. And on nights like this, it’s hard to argue. When in full flow, Yob emit a cavernous sound that seems to emanate from the very earth with a rumble that resonates and reaches deep inside you, shaking your soul with subterranean force.
Last year, newspapers ran a story revealing experts had predicted the possibility of an earthquake measuring up to 5.5 on the Richter Scale hitting London at any time. Perhaps they could have left the science books at home and just checked Yob’s tour itinerary. It was an experience that would leave any Seismologist cowering underneath the dining room table.