Doom Over London III @ The Relentless Garage

17th November 2012
Review by Ben Spencer

So after waiting in the tightly confined queue into The Garage it was time to get a dose of the Doom Metal Take Over III. Once inside London’s up and coming Eye of Solitude (4/5) began opening with their slow downbeat sound of growling chaos. A solid alignment of bass driven density and crushing riffs collided into a tight sounding unit from each member. One noteworthy track, ‘The Haunting’ with its symphonic undercurrent and interesting use of guitar melody helped to showcase some of the band’s more delicate and sombre tendencies. While the deep throated growls soared highly with some technical lead playing subtly in the background.

Definitely a great start to the all day event, and with a band like this representing London, many of the early crowd seemed to know their songs and cheered at ‘Death said Bring a Friend’ with emotionally purging riffs, slick sounding bass and steady but nevertheless forceful drum work.

Although nothing could have quite prepared me for European metallers Faal (5/5).
The early technical difficulties and slightly restless waiting time definitely paid off. An interesting band who conjure a unique blend of Doom, Black metal with post-rock crescendos that give a cinematic edginess to them. Their music came packed with plenty of ambient interludes, bleak sounding shrieks and pummelling riffage. ‘The Tempest’ proved a worthy testament to this, with an instantaneous charging guitars, visceral screams and an all round intensity that built skyward. Meanwhile, ‘The Clouds Are Burning’, a track soaked in melody and foreboding riffs and tribal drumming erupted into a desolate landscape of cloaked in an atmospheric void of darkness.

These guys stood out as one of the best bands on the bill, with their approach to song writing and versatile range of instrumentation. They were able to display a real craft for their sound and an effortless hybrid of sonic driven speed and morose imagery. Exhilarating and pure art driven, their songs demand an undivided appreciation to fully absorb the quality of their live performance.

Raising the bar with a more Death Metal grilling, The Drowning (4/5); from Cardiff, stood out as the most adrenaline in surging bands of the day. With fast metallic riffs, shattering drums and a no-nonsense death/doom uniform which fit them well. ’The Soulless Harvest’ hit the struck the right note with Thrash guitar work, demonic vocals and an overall head banging bite that reeled in many of the venues packed out metallers, with some impressive solos thrown in for good measure.

Overall, very impressive band who stood out with their down and dirty riff monster songs that came loaded with plenty of technically proficient lead guitars. But it was the fundamental assault on the senses that that made them a worthy addition to the bill.

After reaching the mid point of the all dayer, Witch Sorrow (3.5) come in on top form with a sludgy guitar driven groove that has a stomping drum work that remained consistent throughout their set. Vocally, a lot of their music came with agonizing clean vocals that oozed with desperation in the same vein as Steve Von Till. Sensual and brooding, their songs were entrancing with layers of distorted guitars and muddy bass overtures. However, some of their songs did display a faster metallic solo attribute which was propelled by an eccentric drumming and sense of urgency from each member.

A great effort by a band who knows a thing or two about conjuring up an impending sense of destruction upon an apocalyptic scale and whose sound resonates with all the right reasons to be afraid.

Indesinence (3/5) were a band whose heavily enriched portrayal of Doom/Drone came crashing down in full swing within the first couple of minutes of their set. With them came the return of the deep throated vocals found from the earlier bands and their bleak and unrelenting drive towards the fundamentals of their genre is what gave them their appeal. With double kick pedal drums, down tuned riffs laced with light shards of melody and solos, they waded through their set seamlessly with tightly constrained drums that reinforced the gravitational pull of just how powerful Doom Metal can and more importantly should be.

Although they may not have been the best band in terms of diversity they did serve a strong reminder to anyone of the full magnitude of Doom and its overwhelming impact.

As the venue began to fill back up and the lights dimmed back down, seasoned Funeral Doom metallers Officium Triste (4/5) took up arms with a widespread of cheering from onlookers as they inject a piano led intro, accompanied with crushing riffs, providing an orchestral backdrop that is rich with grandeur and elegance.

This was depicted well in ‘The Silent Witness’ a strong sense of symphonic textures and Death growls swaying in and out with some lead guitar raising everything from its abyss like state. Amidst its night-sky aura, a strongly romantic sense of solitude and isolation came from the lyrical passages, while the piano breakdown immersed with delicacies. As the drums pick up with some fret board tapping solos shedding an elated sense euphoria throughout the packed out room.

The classical piano intro of ‘On the Crossroads’, elevated the band’s more reflexive nature with droning guitars and husky vocals and heavy bass slams tightened around like a noose effect, but it is the tracks ability to jump between melodic ambience and colossal waves of distortion in their mammoth sized songs that made the hair stand up on the back of necks that made them one of the most enthralling acts of the show.

Marking the end of the Doom Takeover III event, Ahab (4.5/5) enter the stage with a heavily infused sense of anticipation from their fan base. Without any deliberation they open with ‘Divinity of Oceans’ a slow riff building beast of a track that comes with deep lung bellowing growls, rapid fire kick pedal drumming, pitch harmonics and an all rounded decapitating precision. Halfway through the band offer light touches of melody and anguishing clean vocals that stream out in a dream like procession before inducing a metallic crunch of bass and guitar that paint a mournful tapestry.

Next up, the clean strumming of ‘Further South’ which comes with a smooth sounding bass pulling everything together with the crowd caught in a trance like state of captivity. The clean vocals leak in with ethereal ease, keeping the momentum going. With the second half they crank up the volume with the heavy sounding doom ridden weight of guitars and cataclysmic drumming before injecting some solos into the melting pot.

Another high note was the drumming build up of ‘Deliverance (Shouting at the Dead)’ with sinister riffs and tortured clean vocals that shone really well against the heavier use of instrumentation. Meanwhile the eerie melodies in ’Old Thunder’ with its elusive tranquillity and bludgeoning guitar work, punching bass provided a real head nodding along quality in its destructive wake, along with well transitioned vocal ranges.

Closing off with, ‘The Hunt’, the crowd cheered back, as the opening growl an guitars conjured up the energy levels in the room. The slow paced drums and clean guitars reverberated until a storm like mid section of growls sent a shockwave of adrenaline across their head banging fans as the song swept across in its slow weighty tempo. With sinister sounding effects and darkly lit layers of ambient tones this served as the perfect closer to a more than memorable show.

This was an event unlike any I have covered before!
Having been new to the whole Doom genre, the event certainly presented many reasons to become swayed by it. With a range of different bands, varying in levels of style and scope there really wasn’t any who sounded replicas of each other. Instead what was found was a versatile mix-up of artists who had honed their sounds, cultivated their styles and gave an impressive insight into the different avenues and depictions that Doom Metal can take. What stood out most of all was the way that each band were able to incorporate a strong sensibility for catharsis amidst the dark tonality of the genre itself and evoke a sound that is fresh and full of vitality.
Great show, looking forward to the next one!