Vodun ‘Ascend’ album launch with Bruxa Maria & The Hyena Kill @ Oslo Hackney

Date: 13th September 2018
Review by Gabor Csete

5 years ago, I thought that by 2018 Vodun were going to be big and well known, and I wouldn’t have to introduce them to anyone. Sadly the music industry hasn’t worked that way, but Vodun is a truly unique band. I saw one of their first gigs – if not their first (and fell straight in love) – I was there at their first album launch two and a half years ago, and I saw them playing in front of thousands last year at Hellfest. Amazing band and beautiful people who I am happy to call friends.

So everyone can see why I was really excited to go and see their second album lunch in Oslo, Hackney.

I got there early to interview them, but as I was too early I had the chance to take a look behind the curtains. The band was on stage to do the soundcheck, then behind the stage, they continued to organise the show with lead vocalist Chantal Brown. As this was the first gig on their tour and the album launch party they had some extra stuff on stage, but we’ll talk about this later.

The first band of the night was The Hyena Kill from Manchester.

Danny Allison photography
Danny Allison photography

The duo (Steven Dobb – guitars/vocals and Lorna Blundell – drum) plays aggressive, furious music with elements of hardcore and sludge. The way Steven acts on stage during the performance is kinda threatening: it goes well with their music. He really let his demons loose.

As he said: “There’s nothing more therapeutic than screaming your head off”.

It is quite impressive how two people can make so much energy. Although there is not much movement going on on the stage whilst they’re playing, I didn’t feel that they were lost. These Mancunians take no prisoners.

Many of their influences emerged whilst they were on stage – like Deftones or some Seattle grunge bands. Steven’s aforementioned on-stage aggressiveness and style reminds me of Henry Rollins, especially from the Black Flag era.

Sadly the venue was still half empty when they played, but people should really should check them out as they are worth seeing!

After them, Bruxa Maria played.

They played fast, and I mean fast: hardcore punk with added noises, which made it far more atmospheric and dark than any other bands in their genre. On top of that, vocalist/guitarist Gill Dread can do some amazing, crazy things with her voice. The crowd – which was getting bigger and bigger – included a few people who came because of this band and there’s no wonder why. You have to see this band, words can hardly describe them.

This time Robbie Judkins helped them out with the noises. His existence on stage added to the performance. Someone who presses buttons and twists potmeters looks unfamiliar on stage with a hardcore punk band, but not in a negative way. It’s just something that you don’t see at 99.9% of these kind of gigs. On top of that, it’s obvious that Robbie enjoys Bruxa Maria’s high-speed destruction and had fun (even though he had only popped in to substitute).

By this time, the only thing I missed was a good old moshpit. Still, people had fun and gave back energy in response to what they got from the stage.

At this point, the venue was full, and some people in the audience came with ‘Vodun’ make-up painted on them.

Photo by Marcus Way.
Photo by Marcus Way.

As I mentioned before, Vodun put a lot of effort into this special night. They decorated the stage and the venue, and they had someone to control all the lights. The trio came out and started their performance full-blown, and then more and more people joined them on stage: a brass player, background vocalists, a percussionist, a dancer and, for one song, a male vocalist. Everyone wore tribal dresses and makeup.

Vodun got to another level at this gig. The show was amazing and their sound was thicker and more complex. The trio has been full of energy every time I’ve seen them, but they squared that this time.

The audience was full of dancing, singing and smiling people, giving the place a great energy. At one point they got even more involved as Chantal gave them instruments. There is nothing not to love about this band. Seriously.

There was only one negative thing about Vodun’s gig, and it was the lack of fire – and I literally mean fire. Zel usually sets her cymbals on fire at the end of the show, but this time, due to the fire alarm being above the stage, it didn’t happen…but still, a great show none the less.

All the bands were great, and the best thing about the night was that they were all different. This is the way people learn of a wider spectrum, at the end it is ‘only’ music, despite the fact that we are quick to name different genres. One thing is for sure: all of them should get more attention.