Tonight is my first visit to Upstairs at The Garage and I am immediately sold on the place. A steady stream of fans flow through the doors and await what is purported to be a night of full blown, doom laden riffage.
Alunah, from Birmingham, are first to take stage. They straight away impress with their huge psychedelic sound that at times is reminiscent of Kyuss but on steroids. Soph Day on vocals and guitar really delivers in front of a band that is obviously tight. Their set is short and full of nice heavy grooves, consisting of four songs off of 2012’s White Hoarhound album. Closer “Belial’s Fjord” leaves me wanting to hear more from this band.
The scene has now been set for the rest of the evening. Huata follow, bringing a sense of evil ritual from their red cloaked frontman. Their sound is absolutely punishing, with a mood that swings from Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf to early Electric Wizard. I’m all the more glad that Upstairs At The Garage is a very intimate venue. This is the perfect way to experience a band like Huata. More than just working through a set of songs, they deliver a sense of ceremony that compliments the aural assault.
Now, I have a confession to make. My reason for being here tonight is purely because of Witchsorrow. I first saw them support St Vitus on the main stage at The Garage in March of this year and was keen to catch them again. Their set tonight was cut short due to some sound problems on guitar. But, you know what they say about the light that burns twice as bright…this is really a power trio in the true sense.
A dense rhythm section topped with classic vocals and some tidy guitar work, the three songs that were performed left everyone wanting more. Beginning with the slow and thunderous God Curse Us, on to Meggido and ending all too soon with Breaking The Lore. The latter being a lesson in classic pile-driving heavy metal – no need for sub-genre classification here. My disappointment at a set cut short was more for the three band members, who were really on form tonight. Chin up chaps!, the faithful will be there for your next outing.
Ears and bodies ready for the next pummelling, Wounded Kings take the stage to close the night. This is what doom metal is all about. Heads move involuntarily and horns get thrown – the delivery is chest-poundingly heavy. There is a great sense of drama to each of their songs. The riffs are massive, but I am taken with vocalist Sharie Neyland. Her voice is dark, mysterious and foreboding. You are transported to a dark place and this is the soundtrack of fear. On occasion, I am taken back to the legendary vocal sound of Marianne Faithful – each phrase delivered to bone chilling effect. This is the first time I have seen this band – it won’t be the last.
What an awesome night. Four bands each on top of their game. It was fantastic to be able to chat with some of them after the gig. The venue and crowd completed a memorable evening. Further proof that no other musical genre can do it quite the way metal does.