Voivod @ The Relentless Garage
7th October 2012
Review by Ben Spencer
Photography by Oran Tarjan
Having not been to the newly refurbished Garage at Highbury and Islington, I was pleasantly surprised when entering the venue to find the dark and dingy venue that holds so many fond memories, transformed into a classy medium sized room with a slick looking interior!
No sooner than taking in the sights, the lights went down ready for tonight’s bands!
Tonight’s opening band, Serpent Venom taken arms on stage, with instruments strapped to their bodies and microphone in hand, the singer signified the beginning of the sludgy onslaught of down-tuned metal. As the riffs and heavy drumming intercepted, the wailing clean vocals pierced through the venue’s on looking metallers at the bar who soon enough stood to attention.
As their music began to take form within the first few songs what became prevalent was the emphasis upon slow and brooding song structures, that came with plenty of guitar distortion and some head splitting solos thrown into mammoth-beast like sound. Whilst their was little in the way of experimentation and diversity they delivered a package of organic metal that despite its slow tempo came with a “stripped down to the bare bones” style that was measured by the band’s conviction in what they do; and more to the point what they do they do really well. I’d quite like to hear more from these guys as they offered something quite special on tonight’s bill.
The middle act of the night, came in the form of UK grind core gurus Doom.
Before they entered the stage a female voice with ambient atmospheric music played out as an introduction, depicting a bleak narrative before the band themselves came on stage.
As they burst into overdrive with throat tearing vocals, sinister riffs and rapid fire drum work they waste no time in showing how different they are to the opening band before them.
A strong element of Hatebreed and Napalm Death came across from their sound as an all out pummelling bass played out in its course with punk like grandeur whilst the guitars and vocals merged into a thrash metal powerhouse, along with traditionalised old school hardcore elements resonating throughout.
Doom appeared to have a strong following gathered around them with the crowd cheering throughout and the band interacting well with them, they dedicated a song to the Yorkshire police force. Although vocally, most of it seemed pretty indecipherable, it did fit the style well of music and the drum solos playing throughout kept the momentum going for these guys whose set list seemed to glided by effortlessly.
Onto tonight’s headliner’s, Voivod are met with a strong level of enthusiasm from the filled out venue as they plunge straight into their self-titled track.
A song heavily entrenched in guitar riffs, solos and fast drumming and agonizing clean vocals. They flow seamlessly into ‘Ripping Headaches’ which comes with group vocals head banger guitar work which their fans met with plenty of wind milling, especially when the solos leaked out of the wood-work with fret tapping mastery.
Stand out track, ‘Forgotten In Space’ with its distorted guitar intro and foreboding drums and “All systems Go” vocals waded through with some interesting guitar effects and delved into the more proggy dynamics of the band’s work, meanwhile the vocals had a streak of Mastodon and Neurosis running throughout . The solo led crescendo built up to exhilarating heights and executed itself flawlessly.
The bass driven overtures of ‘Mechanical Mind’ also sunk in well with the set as the catchy/ complex guitars and the interesting lyrical themes become a real strong point here.
‘Tribal Convictions’ was an instant crowd pleaser that was met with an army of raised fists from metallers chanting “Hey Hey Hey” back to the band who begun slowly revving up this beast of a track. The song geared itself towards a strong thrash direction with powerful drum build-ups and tightly crafted time signature changes and plenty of lightning fast solos.
After leaving stage, and returning to satisfy the high demand for an encore, they return with ‘Psychic Vacuum’ a technically advanced guitar track to please tech heads which comes with an upbeat/ head nodding groove that is met with lead guitar solo galore mid section.
Closing off the already impressive set list so far, Voivod polish things of with ‘Astronomy Domine‘, a Pink Floyd cover which worked as a fitting end as the crowd sung back to the band as they converged together in dedicating the song to their former guitarist Piggy.
In a nutshell, this was a really interesting night with plenty of musical avenues being explored by three very different bands. Each had something to offer that was different and on the whole enticing. It was clear that many of the attendees of the evening consisted of loyalist fans who have followed these bands over the years, witnessed their growth and more importantly survived the tides of change to come together with these astounding musicians and share a natural affinity with them. Myself personally, time to go back to the roots of these bands and find out what I’ve been missing out on.
Great gigs guys!