EYEHATEGOD @ Sound Control
The last time EYEHATEGOD rolled through Manchester in 2013 neither band nor audience knew that it very nearly became the last time they would grace this fair city with their presence in the live setting. Shortly after they returned to their native New Orleans, drummer and founder member Joey LaCaze passed away due to fatal issue caused by his life-long asthma.
Many bands would have crumbled after such a tragic incident. This is EYEHATEGOD though. Tragedy runs in their veins. Between them they’ve struggled through death, drug addiction, jail sentences and hurricanes big enough to flatten an entire city and still they manage to soldier on, seemingly undeterred. They say that if a nuclear war were to break out, the only thing left on earth would be debris, cockroaches and EYEHATEGOD.
It should come as no surprise that on this muggy Friday night in Manchester, there is an electric excitement in the air as the hoards gather in GC, Salisbury and Thirsty Scholar. Everyone’s favourite sludge band (though they prefer the term ‘heavy blues’) is back in town once again and ready to show why it is they manage to keep going.
First up though, is the matter of local lads (and one lass on drums) Nomad. You can tell from their gruelling, down-tuned and depressive assault that in supporting EYEHATEGOD they have landed the support slot of their career thus far. And they play like it, vocalist Drian Nash belching out bile and leaving the stage to growl from the centre of the pit, which is surprisingly full for so early on in the evening. From the cheer that greets the band at the end of the set, it’s clear this is no coincidence. Plenty of folk have made the effort to come out and support the openers, which is testament to health of the local doom/sludge scene.
In booking the supports, the promoter seems to have represented the two different sides of the headliners, with Nomad mirroring the slower, heavier side and Liverpool mob Siege Mentality representing the faster more hardcore edge.
They manage to cram double the amount of songs as Nomad did in their 30 minute songs, each one being a short sharp stab of hardcore fury, led by the rasping vocals of Dave Mould, who puts so much of himself into every acerbic lyric that he looks like he’s about to pop a blood vessel.
While their songs are certainly delivered with an impressive amount of intensity, the band seem to lose momentum by taking unnecessarily long tuning breaks between each song. This is punk fucking rock lads, you don’t need to be perfectly in tune!
After stepping out into the startlingly glaring sunshine of Sound Control’s smoking area, where the smell of jazz cigarettes is pungent and a few members of EYEHATEGOD are milling around, chatting with fans and sharing in their indulgences, everyone piles back inside to see what they came for: 90 minutes of schooling in the ways of sludge.
They come storming right of the gates like demented stallions with the relentless grind of Agitation Propeganda from their latest, self-titled record, from which a lot of tonight’s set is culled. Parish Motel Sickness, Trying to Crack the Hard Dollar and the crushing Medicine Noose (which Mike ‘IX’ Williams announces is the song that made them filthy rich) are delivered and received like firm classics.
There are plenty of those too mind you. White Nigger, Take as Needed for Pain and Dixie Whiskey all sounds as vital and crushing as they did back in the nineties. Then again you get the impression that no matter how inebriated and chaotic they appear, this is a band that isn’t capable of having a bad gig.
As Jimmy Bower and co lay down slab after slab of gruelling riffage and swathes of feedback over new drummer Aaron Hill’s swinging drum patterns, you start to notice something strange. EYEHATEGOD manage to be simultaneously sloppy and tight at the same time. As they play, bathed in a deep green light, the songs move in and out of time. Nobody keeps the beat. The really impressive thing is, that every member moves in and out of time in perfect unison with each other.
It’s a thing to behold. EYEHATEGOD are a thing to behold. No matter what shitstorm this thing calls life throws at them, one can only hope that they continue to survive like the cockroaches they are and they once again return to this great city.
Words: Adam Robertshaw