Serpent Venom, Bast, Ommadon, Atragon , Kurokuma, & Barbarian Hermit – The Star & Garter, Manchester Review

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A bitter February night is rendered much more convivial by the stellar line-up of low tuned riffs on display. Local heroes Barbarian Hermit tread the boards first but technology is against them with bassist Rob’s gear dying on him, leaving t’Hermit to soldier on with just two guitars and drums. To their credit, the lack of six string bass doesn’t leave too much of a hole with guitarists Adam Robertshaw and Mike Regan compensating for their comrade’s absence. It may not have been their most auspicious showing but it’s the ability to slog through gigs like these that show the mettle of a great band.

Kurokuma’s dense tribal rhythms and nihilistic intensity make for compelling viewing. The trio’s churning early Neurosis styled sludge is both harrowing and captivating with their haunting rendition of “the theme from Ecco: The Tides of Time” being a notable high point.

Providing a welcome contrast to the tar-stained misery present on the rest of tonight’s bill, Atragon provide pissed up party doom & roll to bang heads and drink to. Jan Gardner’s gruff vocals are the perfect foil to the greasy riffs that are served up, satisfying the audience’s lust for raunchy, dirty guitar licks and top class entertainment.

Glasgow drone collective Ommadon couldn’t be more different in both style and execution. Cold, harsh and unwelcoming their disturbing dystopian racket begins dramatically with much force but the impact dwindles as the set progresses leaving several punters to seek refuge in the bar downstairs.

Blackened doom outfit Bast made a splash with their debut platter ‘Spectres’ gaining many plaudits from various extreme music periodicals. The set is a familiar yet powerful reminder of an outfit with much potential. Combining eerie post black metal trappings with earth shuddering ostinatos, it’s a timely reminder of what made these Londoners so special. With a new album on the horizon, it could be time for Bast to spread their message of despair and savagery yet further.

Ploughing a more traditional path, headliners Serpent Venom are well received by an audience spoilt rotten by the support. Molasses-thick riffs steeped in a fascination with the occult in the manner of many of doom’s classic acts makes the material sound familiar and whilst the guitars draw comparisons with many of the greats, Garry Ricketts’ vocals don’t feel powerful enough to convey the range and depth of emotion the genre feeds off.  

‘Sorrow’s Bastard’ has a storming riff which sets several heads a quiver, but the quartet‘s performance is solid yet unadventurous lacking the lysergic horror of Electric Wizard or the bombast of Lee Dorian’s works.   

Disappearing into the night with a friendly wave it’s a decent performance but not the one which had the greatest impact. The night may have peaked early but The Star & Garter was once against a fine host to a diverse and eclectic set of exponents of the UK doom scene.

 

Ross Baker

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