Wed 7th June 2006
Support from Flatlands, Black Eye Riot and Death Of Her Money
God bless my misses. Say what you will about her love of awful house music but she readily coughed up a fiver she herself couldn't really afford so I could attend this evening of riff worship and I'm very happy to report that all bands featured made it money well spent... err... blagged... oh whatever, you get where I'm going with this...
I get to the venue and as I pay in with my hard filched money the guy behind the door is kind enough to point out that Death Of Her Money have just started so I pelt it upstairs to catch Newport's rising stars. As I walk into the room the wall of sound these guys produce hits me full in the face and it's a mighty sucker punch indeed. I've only ever seen these boys the once before when they played Swansea with Taint over a year ago and they blew me away then. Tonight they're throwing some considerable weight around as their odd brand of post-doom(core?) belches out across the (even smaller than usual) audience. I think the thing that impresses me so much about DOHM is the fullness of sound they generate from a one guitar band. The guitarist plays doom like it was full tilt punk, making clever use of open low strings at all times whilst providing the... err... 'melody' via manipulation of more high end notes, thus alleviating the need for a second guitarist all together. Accomplished and punishing, sounding somewhere between The Melvins and Isis, along with their more hardcore-ish flourishes, the band close with the one song of theirs I know, the monstrous 'Flood Of Love' before leaving us. Not bad at all, I expect great things to come...
Black Eye Riot have evidently been drinking for some time before taking to the stage tonight and god bless them for it. The true level of carnage they're capable of producing is on full display tonight, with Dor and Willis both steaming drunk and absolutely determined to cause some serious destruction before they're done. The crowd are immediately at fever pitch screaming along with the ubiquitous pumping of fists as Dor and Willis prove unwilling to wait for the crowd to start a pit and begin their own. Cue much tomfoolery as mic leads entwine instantly as the Two-Man-Tornado attempts to stay upright and fails (as per usual). The rest of the band aren't in much better shape and it takes the first few songs before they settle into any real kind of cohesive order, not helped much by their singers either being too distracted to sing in time or simply forgetting that they're supposed to be singing at all, but this is, of course, exactly why we love them so much and I for one wouldn't have it any other way. Sticking to their standard track listing the Riot storm through 'Bitch Slap', 'Battered By Elephants' and 'First Blood' from their recent split with Charger, along with 'Bite The Snake', 'Instinct' and 'Beaten Down, Rising Up' from album 'No Hope, No Future, No Worries' before ending with crowd pleaser 'The Cunt'. The last two or three of which Stu plays unaccompanied on guitar due to the standard BER technical issues rearing their ugly head as Lee successfully manages to blow a valve on his notoriously unreliable, if undeniably much loved, HiWatt. This does however mean he can join in with the free-for-all sing along of 'The Cunt' during which he produces the comedy moment of the evening by covering Willis and Dor in Stella despite Dor's best efforts to stop him (i.e. he shakes his head at Lee, though quite what he thought he was going to achieve with this action is unclear...). Best BER gig I've seen for ages which is a statement in itself as far as I'm concerned.
Random fact not very worth mentioning: Flatlands look a bit geeky. Fortunately for all concerned however, they rock like bastards so everything evens out rather nicely. Now I don't know much Flatlands material as I've only heard their 'Come For The Boredom... Stay For The Monotony' demo cd, but what I've heard I've been impressed with. They seem to be a somewhat different beast live though, for a start I realise they actually have two singers (bassist Big Si doubles up as the designated roarer) which was a fact that I appear to have missed up until this point. Heavy as all hell and slow as you could want they move into a reasonably standard Isis style light/heavy dynamic and all is well except some of the time signatures are perhaps a little over wrought spoiling the rhythm of the music (only a little) occasionally, but this is a minor niggle as when these boys get the time changes right and hit a riff they fucking HIT A RIFF!!! Without a doubt their finest moments come when they begin to play with warmer, more intricate melodies under the gigantic slabs of heavy in a style reminiscent of Iapetus Records signing Symmetry which seems to make the BIG FUCKING RIFFS soar that little bit higher than most bands in this genre manage. Particular note must also be taken of their screamer who appears to find microphones almost entirely unnecessary as his voice rips across the surface of the music regardless of whether he's holding the mic in front, near, or for that matter anywhere remotely near his mouth. Incredible.
Final band of the night Art Of Burning Water listen to Taint's 'The Ruin Of Nova Roma' while setting up and whilst all the things we've always loved about them are still there (i.e. they still rob the occasional riff off Slayer and the Melvins) they seem to have been taking some serious notes when touring with our own local heroes. Although other more recent additions to their sound are evident throughout with healthy portions of Keelhaul in particular shining through, there's undeniably a very large nod to Jimbob's rather unique vision of how TechDoom should be written and played throughout the entire set. This is no bad thing in my book of course, as Taint are easily one of my favourite bands and regularly get mentioned in 'Best UK band' conversations held by those in the know. The main difference between the two bands, however, is that Art Of Burning Water seem to have a very serious ambition of being crowned 'Band Most Likely To Fit More Riffs Into One Song Than Any Other' as they belt them out at top speed with almost no let up what so ever. This in itself can get a little irritating at times as some riffs other bands would wait a whole lifetime to write are frittered away in seconds, but does have the rather pleasant (and very practical) outcome that, in a scene nowadays where songs under eight minutes are somewhat frowned upon, most of the material here clocks in around the three to four minute mark. As far as I can tell this is purely because you just can't play breakneck tech for any longer than that without having some kind of fit and/or coronary incident. This then, would seem to be a reasonable juncture in the proceedings to heap praise on the level of musical prowess on display here from all three members (there's another guy with them not on stage tonight who I'm sure used to be the second guitarist?) of AOBW as it really is quite mind-boggling that they don't even seem to be playing at full stretch at any point. After about eight or nine songs they play their closer and at long last the boys stop and take their time with a riff. And what a fucking riff! If Flatlands had some BIG FUCKING RIFFS then this bastard is THE MOTHERFUCKER OF ALL BIG MOTHERFUCKING RIFFS building on itself, becoming heavier and heavier before slamming to a close. The crowd start calling for more and at the request of BER drummer Carl, they play one more song but whilst it explores a more open and (dare I say it...) delicate side to their song writing it simply can't stand against their previous effort but trust me, NO ONE is complaining after the battering to the senses they have just provided and the 30 or so people left by the time the noise dies down are all in full voice showing their appreciation. Suffice to say as soon as I have cash again I will be buying their freshly released new album. Exceptional stuff.
All in all, a fucking belter then with the added bonus of me only having spent four quid all night!