The Underworld, London, UK
8th June, 2014
Review by Caitlin Smith
Photos by Ashlinn Nash
It seems hard to turn anywhere on the London scene at the moment without bumping into a psychedelic or doom lineup playing one venue or another. Heading up the Underworld that night are Carolina based Bloody Hammers, bringing along with them a suitably dismal line up.
It’s a new milestone for Surrey band Victorian Whore Dogs [3.5/5] as they hit the stage of the Underworld for the first time. Since their conception in 2010 the band have been busy, releasing 3 EPs including their latest this year Hobo Chic. Far from being an antiquated band, they have constantly denied being boxed into a genre, jumping anywhere between sludge to post-hardcore marrying it all into a sound they describe as ‘sexy hobo tramp core’.
To say that Danny Page is an energetic front man may seem a bit of an understatement to those who have experienced the Whore Dogs before. Right from the onset Page paces and falls about the stage in an energetic mass of tormented vocal screams. Their mix of sludgy riffs, abrasive vocals and minimalistic luls are the perfect combination to shake off the Sunday cobwebs and prepare us for the night ahead.
Revival may be an emerging genre at the moment, but if there is one band that appears to live and breathe the 70s it’s Amulet [4/5]. From their old school metal sound to the flares and the moustaches, there’s nothing about them that doesn’t seem displaced. Despite forming in 2010, the band have only released a demo and video tapes, but what they lack in releases, they make up for in their live set.
True to their name, Amulet treat us to a set packed with tales of black magic and the occult. Vocalist Gaz may be small in stature, but unleashes powerful high-pitched vocals, making it hard not to get caught up in the energy of the performance. Aside from the occasional lifting of the microphone stand, Amulet are very stripped back on stage. This is a band that really let the music really do the talking for them, who needs theatrics when you have pure old-fashioned heavy metal.
Londoners Serpent Venom [3/5] has started to do big things after the release of their latest album this year, Of Things Seen & Unseen. The band strip back their sound for a no frills riffing that drips in tone. It’s no surprise then that their sound is heavy with the echoes of past legends St Vitus, Black Sabbath and Pentagram.
Compared to the first two bands of the night, Serpent Venom are certainly a more somber affair. Despite the seemingly odd pairing on the lineup following on from Amulet, the bands shared 70s influences help to tie them in together leaving neither of the band out of place. Where Amulet came out with soaring vocals and energetic riffs, Serpents Vemon reside at the opposite end of the scale, churning out a crushingly heavy sound track after track.
Fresh off the back of their latest album Under Satan’s Sun, the Bloody Hammers [3/5] arrive for their debut tour of UK soil. While the band themselves seem to have attracted the attention of major labels, this was not reflected in the crowd that evening, as Underworld remained quiet. The band seemed undeterred by this however and continued to put on a energetic performance.
Playing a mix of songs off their first and latest album, we hear decidedly little from Spiritual Relics, with just closing song ‘What’s Haunting You’ coming from the second album. Putting this band under the bracket of occult or doom really doesn’t do this band justice, as their myriad of influences creates a fresh and interesting sound that the currently over-saturated doom scene is starting to lack. The classic rock influences really come into their own live, carried by Manga’s clean vocals and the abundance of guitar solos.
Despite the best effort of the bands, the small crowd meant the atmosphere just wasn’t with them that evening. With a return tour planned in autumn for the Bloody Hammers, lets hope next time they can leave many more people truly bewitched.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown
The Witching Hour
Death Does us Part
The Moon-Eyed People
Witch of Endor
Fear no Evil
Say Goodbye to the Sun
What’s Haunting You