The Unicorn, London
25th June, 2014
Review by Caitlin Smith
Despite being midweek, it was a good night for London doom fans with both Dopethrone in the Underworld and Primitive Man taking to the stage at the Unicorn that night. Hidden away up in the north of Camden, the Unicorn and Cognitive Dissident promotions are rapidly making a name for putting on some of the most talented underground metal bands, and tonight is no exception.
Born from the ashes of Dopefight, Parol, Thread and The Ergon Carousel in 2013,Grey Widow [3/5] is a band that already carries some serious weight behind it. Bursting out of the south east and into the Unicorn that evening, they brought with them sludgy riffs and aggressive, screeched vocals from Les Makepeace who energetically paced round in front of the stage for the set. Hidden under the layers of distortion and filth however, there is no shortage of groove as they lay down riff after riff that causes even the most hardened doom fanatic to nod in appreciation.
It seems that Londeners Bast [3.5/5] are invading every doom lineup hitting the city at the moment. Following the release of their debut album, Spectres, earlier in the year they have been found on major bills supporting everyone from Conan to Yob. The band seemed to be suffering from sound issues that night however; Craig Bryants vocals were barely audible while the bass was obnoxiously loud, drowning out some of the subtitles of their sound. Despite the setbacks, Bast managed to pull out their on their usual track, Outside the Circle of Time, they have once again proved themselves to be one of the most exciting bands on the London scene at the moment.
Heading up as main support for the UK tour, Birmingham based Opium Lord [3/5] take to the stage 3rd that evening. For a band that have only released one EP, The Calendrical Cycle – Prologue: The Healer last year, they are already landing themselves some major slots, playing Birmingham’s Supersonic festival just a few weeks previously. The darkened stage of the Unicorn seemed like the perfect setting for their music. Bleak and unrelenting, their sludgy riffing and screams bring with them a desolate atmosphere that held the crowd from beginning to end.
Since their formation in 2012, US based Primitive Man [4.5/5] have been throwing out releases, putting out an album, a demo and 2 splits over the course of the last 2 years. Despite this rapid releasing, each track by this band is a brutally crushing as the last. Featuring Ethan McCarthy from Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire once again on vocals and guitar, this is a band that already promises to be good even before the first note has rung.
Once again, the sound issue at the venue reared its head, and Primitive Man suffered from the same problems that Bast had earlier in the night, with the vocals being barely audible beneath the weight of the instruments. Fortunately this time the issue was corrected and the band were able to enjoy reasonable sound for the rest of the night. Running through a mix of tracks off their releases, each one was as sickeningly heavy as the last, with only the briefest let up to thank the crowd between tracks. Throwing in changes in rhythm and tempo, they were delivered with deadly precision as they crash their way from beginning to end with a devastating force.
This may have been their first trip over to the UK, but Primitive man commanded an impressive turnout that night. Those who missed it definitely shouldn’t make the same mistake next time around.