W/ Diesel King, Dead Existence
@ The Garage, London
3rd August 2013
Review by Kevin Griffiths
Photography by Ashlinn Nash
Battling our way ever closer to the venue, passing cattle-like throngs of football fans recently purged from nearby Emirates Stadium, I silently utter thanks that I am not a fan of ‘the so-called beautiful game.’ Then again, on reflection, perhaps these people have similar thoughts when they pass the line of gig going, black-clad metalheads all drunk and rowdy and drinking in the street… At least we’re queuing for something awesome! And tonight that is NOLA sludgemasters Eyehategod at The Highbury Garage…
First on stage is London sludge rising stars Diesel King (www.facebook.com/Dieselkinguk).
The lucky boys playing their last show before Bloodstock the following weekend and probably hoping to turn a few heads tonight.
Opening to a room steadily filling with an outrageously heavy selection of band t-shirts, worn by people who clearly enjoy their music low and hammering, Bill Jacobs’ hypnotic timekeeping soon gets the crowd nodding and it becomes clear they’ve come to the right place.
As the crushing guitars raise the decibel level and the beats range from pumping to glacially ponderous, a larger cheer is elicited from the crowd with the each song’s ending. As they rumble along, I can’t help but feel that a bit more energy from the band would have been reciprocated in full by the crowd but as an opening band, Diesel King more than set the tone and tempo for the evening with their sludgy bastardry.
After some garbled urging from man-mountain frontman Mark O’Regan, set closer ‘Bind, Torture, Kill’ gives the speakers a run for their money and has all the pounding heaviness of a Cannibal Corpse record on half speed. As their dirty, dirty sound rings out over the crowd, I and no doubt a few others are left wanting just a little bit more. Certainly a few heads have been turned tonight and the tent at Bloodstock will hopefully be that little bit more full. A sterling job.
It’s good to see local support bands becoming a staple at metal gigs nowadays, and London’s Dead Existence (www.facebook.com/DeadExistenceuk) take to the stage in front of a rapidly warming crowd.
Also gearing up for a festival appearance at Incubate Festival in Holland, their dissonant rumblings immediately convey a bit more energy as Jake Harding’s scathing vocals attempt to perforate your eardrums.
Overall so far the sound has been thunderous and rumbling through my entire body, though I hereby accuse The Garage of being a bit of a dull venue in terms of good vibrations. Dual disharmonic guitars shred what’s left of the turbid air as the room now nears capacity and the bar area becomes evermore crowded.
The response to each passing song becomes more and more virulent. ‘A Bitter Thread’ raises the heaviness levels to new heights, though an unexpected clean section breaks things up nicely before heading back into a disjointed, sludgefest outro to close the set.
The bands performance drops off slightly towards the end, perhaps due in part to the wilting heat inside the venue, but then again, top marks for heaviness and brutality! Catch them on tour with Iron Witch in September.
Onwards now, in a room full of beer-drinking, heaviest-of-the-heavy music-loving fans, to the main event ‘Eyehategod’.
I bump into our MR photographer Ashlinn near the front for a brief chinwag, when all of a sudden she bounds off to photoraphize as NOLA’s sludge kings appear through a dense atmosphere of dry-ice, spliff smoke and human condensation.
The temperature raises a few degrees again as new track ‘New Orleans Is The New Vietnam’ sets bodies grooving, heads banging, fists into the air and more beer flowing than ever before. I resist the temptation to launch my beer across the lumbering moshpit and down it instead.
The pros here lay down laidback beat after heavy beat, interspersed with spasmodic bursts of speed and flurries of headbanging.
The sound coming out of the speakers is now pummeling, surely setting off seismographs around the area and my compliments to the sound crew.
Singer and founding member Mike Williams’ is presumably hell-bent on turning the microphone to dust with his stormy vocals, and New Orleans metal legend Jimmy Bower is acting second frontman; his blues-infused riffs and demented nodding-dog headbanging stirring up the crowd from minute to minute.
A true back-catalogue of the band’s sludge-hits (if ever such a thing existed) is blasted out tonight, leaving the crowd sweaty, drunk, and baying for more.
Way more fun than watching football I’m sure you’ll agree!