A long festival, especially after you’ve gotten up at 4am, worked all day etc. is not always the best of things. Armageddoom, however, was one of the best of things. I didn’t see every band – I had pints to see, friends to ..drink? But despite my lack of dedication to the DOOM CAUSE or whatever it turned out to be one of, if not the best gigs I have ever attended in my life, but more on that as we go down.
Yeah, I will sheepishly admit I didn’t get all that into most of the support acts. Walked in with Bayou playing, and like their following acts – Chainsaw Hooker‘s energetic, Doomrider-but-more-trad kinda feel, The Devil Rides Out “man why is a local singing with an American accent” take on heavy stoner rock, it was good, but not really enough to stop me from hanging out with some old-time bros and drinking a particularly delicious dark ale the surprisingly nice venue had on tap. Like any competent local band anywhere, none of these bands were anywhere near bad, and their hearts were all unquestionably in the right place. It’s just already been heard, it’s already been done by a bunch of other guys – from Sabbath to Kyuss to Doomriders to Sleep to whatever – and it’s probably been done better. Looking forward to seeing them all again though – Chainsaw Hookers in particular were quite entertaining- and next time I’ll drink inside the actual venue!
It was around 10:30-ish that Yanomamo came on, and for the first time, my interest in the music exceeded my interest in consuming as much White Rabbit Dark Ale as I possibly could. (Seriously, if you’re a Pom/American/Whatever, it’s well worth going to a boutique beer shop and trying to get this… very tasty.) Some incredibly greasy riffs – huge Crowbar(ish) deals with a monstrous guitar tone that sometimes got really slow and crushing followed by a rather charismatic vocalist running around the floor, jumping on the bar etc etc.
‘Twas the vocals that really made it in my opinion – the riffs were massive, all of this Cathedral, early High On Fire with a lot of deep south sludge but the often shouted, sometimes screamed vocals gave the music all these hints of Celtic Frost and Dream Death, Delirium, etc which was fantastic. If there’s an audial reference, however vague, to the proto-death/doom scene I will latch onto that like a drowning man. Yeah, the more extreme influences were a big, big big big part of what made Yanomamo so good. Well worth checking out – I’m sure most readers of this review have already heard Conan; well, try Yanomamo too.
And finally, Conan.
Anyway, so a bunch of unremarkable looking dudes got up on stage (always shorter than I expect, for some reason?), sound checked rather quickly and then got into it. I had to admit I was a little bit nervous – I really wasn’t a fan of their Live At Roadburn recording, and I did wonder as to whether they’d be able to capture their galaxy-size guitar tone live – which as we all know is a huge, huge part of their sound.
What a waste of time worrying about that. For it was at this point, 11:30-ish, that I took my earplugs out, and at this point where the gig went from “this is pretty solid” to “this is maybe the best gig I’ve ever been to“.
Take your earplugs out when you see Conan. Just do it! By the time we’re 50 there’ll likely be a cure for tinnitus anyway, and Jon and Chris’s playing deserves to be heard in that pure, ridiculously loud, torrent of fuzz that it is. I’m not sure I’ll ever even try to play a distorted electric again, because holy shit. Huge – far huger than the records can really portray, ridiculously bassy, but still super well balanced – for a small gig, the sound was incredible, everything audible and every riff easy to decipher despite the amp melting amount of gain. It is tolerable without plugs too – the volume is stupid and second only to Sunn O))) amongst gigs I’ve been too, but almost all of the energy is in the bass, so it’s not really all that harsh. Just, really really really really really huge. Especially with it locking in with Paul’s typically busy, typically excellent drumming. The point I’m really trying to drive home here: Imagine how loud you’d think Conan are live, imagine how good you think their guitar tone could possibly be, and then multiply it by a few trillion, and you still aren’t really there.
The stage presence was really cool as well – I mean, you aren’t really there for the stage presence, you’re there for the tones – but it was clear just how into it these guys where, how good a time they were having (except when the bass dropped out for some of the middle songs – certainly wasn’t a gig ruiner, mind). The primalness of the songs, the massiveness of the riffs – Satsumo was/is the heaviest thing in the world – the purity of expression in the fairly simple riffs and tonal worship, all done justice by three guys going at it onstage.
It’s hard to say much more – it’s not really super complex music that demands a super complex review. Another way to put it: I’ve seen Neurosis a few times and Conan are far better than Neurosis. Best live band in the world is a big call, but it’s certainly the best metal gig I’ve ever been to, and quite possibly the best ..gig I’ve ever been to. Big call? Yeah, but a week on from the gig and I’m still pretty sure it’s the right call to make.
Set list (no real order):
Altar Of Grief
Foehammer (bonus points for yelling FOEHAMMER & launching straight into the apocalyptic intro of it)
Horns For Teeth
Hawk As Weapon
Crown Of Talons
Scribed by: Caspian Yurisich
Photo Credit: Tammie Molotov