Serpent Venom, Conan, Grimpen Mire
Hobgoblin, Angel, London 26th November 2011
Words and Photos by Antony Roberts
This gig was originally meant to take place at The Black Heart in Camden, but was switched in the last week or two before the event to the Hobgoblin in Angel. A new venue for this metalhead, so off I went to try and locate said pub. Situated conveniently close to Angel station, initial impressions were good. It was a reasonable size, smaller than the Unicorn which also hosts free gigs in London, but large enough to mean the bands had brought some serious backline with them. Drinks were reasonably priced (for London) and bar staff were cheery enough. Anyway enough about the venue, onto the bands!
Grimpen Mire have been dragging their sludgy take on doom around the UK shores since 2007, yet it was the first time that I had witnessed the Wolverhampton based trio live.
First thing to immediately notice from their performance is they are extremely tight for a three piece regardless of the chaos coming from on stage. Whilst definitely sludgy their doom also has leanings towards Crust acts more than anything Louisiana based, and it makes for a unique sound that sets them apart. On final song Crawl guitarist James got caught up in the moment and decided to let loose trashing his guitar, smashing it to pieces on the stage. I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of their new album due out shortly on At War With False Noise Records, and it blows the competition out of the water. With performances as passionate as this, and the amazing new release coming shortly, watch out for these guys, something tells me 2012 is going to be their year.
Having witnessed Conan smack the crap out of everyone’s ear drums only a few weeks back at the Unicorn Camden it was slightly disappointing to see them in front of a bigger crowd at Damnation and not have the same sheer jaw dropping performance. Marred with a serious lack of volume I don’t feel the Damnation crowd truly witnessed the full juggernaut effect of Conan. Rib cage shaking, earth shattering doom is what they delivered at the Unicorn so i was hoping to see a similar performance at the Hobgoblin. Drawing mainly on their Horseback Battle Hammer album the band proceeding to wear down Islington’s metal devotees into a doom driven mass, heads banging away. Spending a lot of the time between the few lyrics bent over doubled under the sheer weight of the riffs, they flattened the audience one weighty bridge at a time. The band have recently released a split with Slomatics (go buy, I can’t recommend enough!) and opening track Retaliator got the live treatment and is even heavier live than on record. In a recent Terrorizer interview they stated “we make up for a lack of technical ability by playing loud”. I think Jon was under selling the band, as they make up for it by writing skull crushing riffs too.
Tonight was not Serpent Venom’s night. I know their traditional doom sounds are normally an absolute joy, but the technical gremlins were out to get them on this evening. Plagued with head issues the guitar could not be heard for the majority of their set and no amount of fiddling fixed the issue. I’ve got to say I think the set was going a lot better than the band thought it was, enjoying their performance issues aside. However by the end of the third song ex Blood Island Raiders skin batterer Paul Sutherland had decided he’d had enough, and proceeded to trash his drum kit bringing the set to an abrupt halt. Whilst the band themselves weren’t happy with the performance they must have been doing something right, as i overheard one punter stating they were their favourite band of the night.
Fourwall Of Solitude