Church Of The Cosmic Skull at The Ruby Lounge
Words and photos: Anthony Firmin
All day club festival events are often put together with a great deal of care and consideration to appeal to a fairly targeted audience. Usually they work and occasionally they are just… “bloody hell, that’s good”, such is the line-up for this show with so much to look forward to.
Due to traffic problems I arrived part way through Trevor’s Head set and fortunately for a band that describes themselves as stoner punk from the sewers of Surrey it seems like they had showered before arriving on stage, either that or they have some pretty clean sewers down there. The band are delivering some seriously heavy riffage such as in new song Teacher, although that title may change. The Moment reminds me of early Metallica and Ordinary Kind shows the band can slow things down and still deliver the goods. Set closer Roll It finally allowed the band to rock out, blazing stuff, short but sweet – just like those Surrey sewers.
Stockport based sludgey doom merchants Under, with an added slice of avant-garde, are riding on top of a wave at the moment with the signing of a deal with APF Records to release their debut album, Slick, which is due in May. Talking with the band briefly it is clear they are both happy and relieved by this development and it shows in the way they play this evening. Just like a melted chocolate Jesus, they are very sludgey, just in time for Easter. So slow they make Sabbath seem like a speed metal band, yet they are highly enjoyable and their set seems to fly by, even managing a few bars of Satan Is Real, especially for the headliners.
Next up are the improbably named Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, a hell of a mouthful to pronounce sober and impossible when drunk. Even more intriguingly this Wrexham based band describe themselves as “3 ape descendants and an astral seraphim combining their powers to generate colossal interstellar arias of plutonium weight. We are the ideal soundtrack to your next intergalactic voyage or black hole exploration.” Having listened to the track Nachthexen repeatedly I knew what was coming and they delivered – it is like Hawkwind have taken a sludge pill instead of LSD and started listening to Black Sabbath. It is impossible to describe but I love it.
Vodun are another proposition altogether. With the stage adorned with African cloths, the band come onstage adorned in fairly brightly outfits and wearing body/face paint and we just know this is going to be special… and special it certainly is. Featuring songs from their debut album, Possession, along with a couple of new ones (with added cowbell) it is a veritable cornucopia of classic psychedelic rock with the powerhouse vocals of Chantel and it is heavy, very heavy. Along with a powerful passion for, and total absorption in their music which is palpable, I am simply blown away by them as is pretty much everyone here from what I can tell.
After what seems a very rapid changeover Boss Keloid hit the stage and they are winning before they have even started based on the reaction; Manchester is safe ground for them. These Wiganers last album, Herb Your Enthusiasm, was greeted with rave reviews when it was released and their assault on the UK metal audience continues. And tonight the band are loud, very loud and with their short songs their set seems to roll along like a runaway train, everyone loves them. But, where are the pies guys?
The headliners this evening are making their debut here in Manchester and they are a fairly big contrast to all the other acts on this bill. This is it; the sermon has started, the congregation are transfixed, the Church of the Cosmic Skull are preaching… mainly to the converted. The majority of their set is from their debut album but we are still teased with new songs; Cold Sweat is poppy and rocky yet catchy. Their set is drenched in proggy Hammond organ, cello and soulful backing vocals and with the band dressed all in white this is as pure as it gets. Watch It Grow is spot on too, this is just so good. The crowd are so behind the band there is even a call for an encore.
Overall this event was absolutely stellar. Many thanks to the legend that is Eytan for organising this outstanding NOIZ event, awesome work.