Lionize at Our Black Heart

Support: Limb| Gevaudan
August 5, 2017 at Our Black Heart

The power of the riff is still rock and metal’s alluring attraction and tonight is proof how they can be delivered in a wide range of ways. Headlining is Hammond-keyboard driven, riffy classic rockers Lionize, who round off a week’s long excursion around the country which started off with an appearance at Kent’s Ramblin’ Man festival. And behind them are an intriguingly diverse supporting cast including New Heavy Sounds label’s heavy sludge groovers, Limb and Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire based Tony Iommi worshipping doom rifferama, Gevaudan.

Gevaudan proudly demonstrate who their god-like hero is as guitarist Bruce Hamilton brandishes his axe bearing crosses along the neck. He unleashes mammoth power chords and riffs, all in the manner of extended drawn out ‘Sabbath bloody Sabbath’ doom. They do have a habit to drift into going nowhere cul-de-sacs, but are saved by powerful peaking moments.

Limb attack in a direct, smack you right between the eyes, non-stop mechanical jab style. The down-tuned fuzzy riffs are matched by punchy rhythmic grooves by drummer Tom Mowforth and bassist Sam Cooper, who form a tight solid basis for the band to rage outwards. To begin with, vocalist Rob Hoey suffers a few microphone issues, but once sorted out their set of newies mixed with set standards ‘Dawn Raiders’, and the Johnny Cash ‘Down by the banks’, are ferocious blasts of powerfully immediate, modern sludge/grunge of the highest order.

With Mark Ronson producing the new Queens of the Stone Age album anticipating a dance, rock merger, it is rather interesting how Limb’s new songs, on first listen anyway, seem to have a bouncier backbeat drive behind them giving this reviewer the impression they have been listening to a lot of disco. It is still heavy, of course, but guitarist Pat Pask’s use of a capo (rarely used in rock and metal) in one song, demonstrate Limb are showing fine leadership skills to push the boundaries of Sludge even further. It is sludge but not quite how we know it.

Though this reviewer prefers their previous one-light stage prop compared to tonight’s contrasting all-lights-on brightness, it doesn’t diminish the fact that they are a taut, robust, impressive juggernaut. Limb have left me greatly anticipating the arrival of their next album. I wonder if we can expect spinning, flashing lights and a disco ball, next time. Sludgisco, anyone?

While Limb provided the dance-beats, Lionize provide the shimmering glitter of the disco era as guitarist/vocalist Nate Bergman is donned in gold lame. This shimmering visual transforms into their full-sized classic rock firebrand of Hammond keyboard wizardry and speedy, mean guitar riffs. The directness of Clutch and the classic aura of Deep Purple via UFO form their sound. The new songs from forthcoming album Nuclear Soul are the highlights. And they show their confidence in them by having many in their set which burst out in high-energy power pack mode; bustling-hard rock groove with soul underpinnings.

A few discomforts with their sound and Nate is clearly unhappy, but thankfully after a bit of messing about with the leads and amps he shrugshis shoulders and, after a ‘fuck it’ proclaim, proceeds to deliver a high octane set of songs ageing veterans Deep Purple could only dream of delivering these days. And it is the new tracks which are the standouts, as ‘Darkest timeline’, ‘Ain’t that a shame’ and especially ‘Blindness of danger’ are hugely lively and immediately memorable, to leave the impression their new album could be their game changer.

Lionize round off an evening of enjoyably varied riffy galore.

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