It only seemed like ten minutes since I’d last seen Goatess but they’d impressed me so much, both recorded and live, that if anyone could get me out of the house on a rainy Sunday night, two weeks after having had an ear operation, it would be them.
I entered the venue with no small amount of trepidation and a pocket full of emergency cotton wool, ready to stuff my ears at the first sign of volume-induced ear pain, but as it happened, thanks to the venue’s proximity to a city-centre residential area and at least one grumpy twat therein, a volume limit was in force. Bad news for bands and audience members who love volume – of which I would ordinarily be one – but good news for my poor right ear and suddenly-overly-sensitive left one.
Tonight’s openers, classy local progressive metallers Arke were already deep into their set as I arrived. Guitarist/vocalist and all-around good-egg Taz Dirania lead the quartet through a set composed of ebbing and flowing doom-inflected post-metal reminiscent of a not-boring take on Isis with a heftier, more aggressive bent and touches of Tool and the expansive sound of The Ocean. Only catching most of the last two songs of the set, I couldn’t tell you exactly what was played but I would imagine the set was built around material from their EP One and Shatner EP’s, most likely with a newer song or two. As hardworking and solid-sounding a band as you could hope to hear, I may have missed the majority of Arke‘s set but it’s a sure thing that I’ll be seeing them again.
Next up were criminally underrated Bradfordians Monolith Cult, purveyors of gritty Northern doom shot through with mournfully intricate harmonies and emboldened by the lungbusting classic rock vocals of ex-Khang/The Dead Resurrected man Bry Outlaw. Despite an initial hiccup thanks to a faulty bass lead, the band quickly recovered and delivered a top notch – if somewhat quiet, thanks to the volume restriction – set of blistering classic doom metal drawn from their excellent debut album Run From The Light.
Last time I saw the band they were still a quartet, meaning that those wonderful guitar harmonies that pepper the recording weren’t in evidence, but these days the band has beefed up to a quintet with second guitarist Wayne Hustler joining original axeman Lee Baines, and so consequently the harmonies are now in full effect. With Outlaw’s sardonic between song wit offsetting the dark subject matter found in numbers such as Sold Down The River, Monolith Cult and Blind Watchmaker, the band fits snugly in the pantheon of dark northern doom alongside Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride with ease, albeit with a distinctly Troubled classic rock vibe. It’s always a pleasure to see these boys and I’m hoping we don’t have to wait too long for a second album and a higher profile as they certainly have the chops.
Things took a turn away from fancy harmonies and into barbarism when Iron Void hit the stage, as bassist/vocalist Sealey, guitarist/vocalist Steve Wilson and drummer Damien Park smashed out a mix of slightly sped-up old-school doom à laSaint Vitus and primeval NWOBHM savagery topped up with a heaping helping of Venom-style nastiness.
The men out front traded off gruff vocals as Wilson let rip with thorny slabs of guitar grunt and Sealey hefted his bass aloft through tracks torn from this year’s self-titled album, including the ripping I Am War, The Mad Monk and Black Mirror.
Very much a no-frills operation, save for Wilson’s occasional wah-drenched leads, the trio come off like a stripped-down caveman take on Grand Magus at times, which is no bad thing at all. By and large I’m not the biggest fan of meat-n-potatoes metal in the world but I enjoyed Iron Void‘s set just fine.
Speaking of enjoyment, even the volume limit slightly hampering Chritus’ vocals didn’t manage to put a damper on tonight’s Goatess set at all, they were just as rockin’ and mesmerising as the last time I saw ’em. Opening with the Supernauty haze of Full Moon At Noon, guitarist Niklas and the boys ebbed and riffed their way through its eight minute plus Sabs-meets-Kyuss throb as Chritus sang, bobbed and weaved atop the whole shebang.
Despite Chritus’ later protests to the contrary – the volume issues were no fault of his – the band were on top form, slipping between earthy hypno-stun doom and skyward psych with grace and ease thanks to the telepathic interplay between Niklas and the rhythm section of bassist Findus and drummer Kenta – both of whom know exactly what to play, when to play it and, most importantly, what not to play and when not to play it. Tastefully powerful players indeed.
Of note in the set tonight were rousing renditions of King One, the eastern-tinged epic Tentacles Of Zen and new song Moth To Flame – featuring some hot tambourine from Chritus amidst the spaced-out tuneage – but, if I’m honest, the whole set was as superb as to be expected without a drop in quality to be heard. There’s just a certain indefinable something that Goatess possess, and they possess it in spades.
A pre-show chat with Chritus revealed that a second album is due to be recorded early next year, and with the new material aired tonight certainly matching the first album tunes for quality, that and the ensuing tour in support of it are two things to very much look forward to as far as I’m concerned – greatly looking forward to hearing even more new material from these boys.
So all in all – as expected – a great gig, albeit a slightly quieter than usual one, that totally took my mind off my immense discomfort and nagging pain for the entire duration. Job done!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson
Photos by: Lee Edwards