The Wounded Kings live at The Garage, 25 May 2013

By on 28 May 2013

With their first appearance in the capital in two years, Terrorizer’s John Muskett was at the Garage in London as The Wounded Kings lay siege…

The Wounded Kings - London 2013

A steady stream of less discerning music fans pour out of Highbury and Islington Station, heading to see Muse play yet another stadium gig filled with enough smoke and mirrors to distract from the lazy, three chord rock-by-numbers that typifies the band. Meanwhile, with some 60,000 less tickets sold, a far superior British band are preparing to take to the stage for a night of doom metal worthy of the old gods as The Wounded Kings return to London for the first time in two years.

Birmingham’s Alunah open up the evening with a satisfyingly gripping take on traditional Sabbath worship. There’s some excellent riffs and the band look natural on stage with frontwoman  Soph Day channelling the spirit of 70’s doom while the band provides a tight performance behind her.  Alunah are at their best when they throw structure to the wind and allow their performance to break free, as long, psychedelic passages help to darken the mood of the Garage.

Huata are up next and do a good job of paying homage to Electric Wizard; their performance is a fully fledged fuzz ritual, complete with ceremonial robes. The aural equivalent of a bad trip, Huata’s songs collapse in on themselves and exacerbate the intrinsic claustrophobia in the band’s sound. This is a brilliantly oppressive performance, which sucks all the life out of the room and leaving only the hypnotic and compelling power of the riff behind.

Witchsorrow are a fairly consistent site on the London doom scene, no bad thing when the quality of their performance remains so high. Tonight is no exception, until some unfortunate technical difficulties ends their set prematurely. It’s a frustrating end as the band were just getting into their stride with material from last year’s ‘God Curse Us’ shaking the foundations of the venue with low-end power.

And so to The Wounded Kings, one of the finest doom metal bands these shores have ever produced. Perfectly capturing the aura of the English pastoral folk-horror tradition, The Wounded Kings have a mystical and mythical quality which makes them an enormously appealing prospect. While already massive on record, their power is amplified ten-fold in the live arena. Singer Sharie Neyland belts out a note-perfect rendition of 2011’s ‘In the Chapel Of The Black Hand’, the full occult nature of the album transmitting itself across the headbanging throng. As her voice drifts hauntingly above the mammoth base lines, compelling the audience to “relinquish your soul to the black abyss”, she holds the Garage in the palm of her hand. Tonight’s performance is powerful, genuine and compelling and absolute evidence that the fine tradition of English doom metal is alive and well

Words: John Muskett

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