By: Gavin Brown
Mama Rouxs, Birmingham | October 9, 2016
This triple header featuring two of America’s most well-respected riff lords with ample support from local noise merchants has been much anticipated since the big was announced. Having originally been slated to take place at Birmingham’s much loved Rainbow venue, the gig was moved to the newer surroundings of Mama Rouxs, a venue that has been decked out like the French Quarter in New Orleans and as strange as that sounds, it was a perfect venue for a gig and especially a gig like this. Even though the venue was a tad different to most hosting metal shows, the quality of music on offer tonight was straight up devastatingly good.
First up were those local lads Opium Lord, who took to the stage with vocalist Nathan Coyle addressing the audience in French in a nod to their surroundings and while this was done with an ounce of humour, as soon as he started singing, it all turned to pure hate. Hard as steel sludgey riffs abounded over a chaotic soundscape reminiscent of a glorious melding of Iron Monkey’s nihilism and the hypnotising riffs of Sleep and the crowd duly lapped it up. Songs like ‘Pink Mass’ and ‘Heroin Swirls’ are delivered with an urgency with the singer in and and out of the crowd throughout the band’s set as the rest of Opium Lord hit their defiant groove onstage. Closing track ‘Black Libraries’ saw Coyle back in the crowd, screaming the song’s lyrics without the aid of his microphone in an intimidating manner to the delight of the audience and as a wail of feedback signalled the end of the bands set, the crowd were well and truly warmed up by one of the UK’s most impressive up and coming bands.
After a quick changeover, Black Cobra hit the stage with no welcome and just came on and impressed the hell out of the crowd with an onslaught of pounding, sickeningly fast drumming and essential doom riffs. Opening with the frantic ‘Challenger Deep’, Black Cobra played a devastating set that was mainly culled from this year’s fantastic Imperium Simulacra album as well as a selection from the band’s impressive past albums, the band barely stopped for breath during their blistering 45 minute set with guitarist and vocalist Jason Landrian pulling out crushing riff after crushing riff and drummer Rafael Martinez almost destroying his kit with his relentless display of battery. There were a couple of times when the ferocious noise that Black Cobra spit out threatened to overwhelm the PA, but that potential problem was quickly sorted out and the set was noteworthy not only for the strength of the material that the band play, but also the infectious energy in which it was executed with. Older songs such as ‘Red Tide’, ‘Five Daggers’ and ‘Obliteration’ mixed in perfectly with the new material with that opener, the album’s title track and pulverising closer ‘Eye Among The Blind’ the pick of the bunch and Black Cobra definitely knocked the Mama Roux crowd for six tonight.
Following such an onslaught would normally be a difficult task, but Yob are seasoned road warriors and are more than up to that task, besides the band’s style of heavyweight riffs and impactful songs is perfectly placed to follow Black Cobra’s relentlessness. From the moment Yob hit the stage, the audience were rapturous in their enthusiasm for the Oregon band. ‘Ball Of Molten Lead’ is a brilliant opening song and set the pace for things to come with frontman Mike Scheidt’s commanding vocals taking centre stage ably supported by his own guitar work and the rhythm section of Travis Fosters drumming and Aaron Reisenberg’s bass resulting in a mesmerising performance of epic proportions. Yob on record are a stunning enough proposition, but hearing the songs played live in front of you takes them to another level. All three musicians gave there all and the whole performance sent shivers down your spine. The epic likes of ‘Breathing From The Shallows’, ‘Atma’ and ‘The Lie That Is Sin’ took your breath away and you are under no impression that you were witnessing something special and then Yob launched into the truly spellbinding ‘Marrow’ from their last album Clearing The Path To Ascend and raised the bar again. This near nineteen minute song is hypnotising, inspiring and downright life affirming and the mesmerised crowd watched either in sheer awe or joyously singing along as the monstrous song unfurled, it truly is a phenomenal track that was played perfectly and to witness and hear it live was an honour. Yob finished off with the almost as epic ‘Burning The Altar’ and left the stage to rousing applause with the crowd knowing they have watched genuine masters of their genre at work.
All three bands in the bill tonight gave their all and everyone here left the venue having witnessed a very special gig.