Dopelord, Telepathy, Bong Cauldron & Barbarian Hermit Slow Things Down
Stonebaked Promotions sign off in slow motion with a night of stoner, doom and a real sense of community
Words: Phil Weller Photos: Anthony Firmin
It’s already rammed upstairs at The Star & Garter and things are already getting sweaty as locals Barbarian Hermit thump out the last few songs of their night-opening set. Three members have changed since this writer last saw them live and yet there is no obvious change in sound. Drummer Gareth Manning (EySaw, as well as temping for half of Manchester’s metal bands in recent years), bassist Spadge Fafner (Fantasist) and, most importantly, vocalist Ed Campbell have all slotted into the band perfectly. Collectively, they grind out sludge riffs so beefy they could make a vegan faint and it is their united blunt force power and emphatic edge that makes them such a great live act. Here is no different.
Like a badger in the night, BongCauldron pop up randomly and unexpectedly, and tonight it is a pleasure to make their acquintance once again, it has been a while. Having released Binge on APF Records last year the band are moving forward and we are treated to a solid, very loud, very thrashy, old school riffathon. The appreciative crowd are lapping it up too. Did I say loud? I meant LOUD as my ears are ringing long after this big, fuzzed up performance ends.
Making their first Manchester appearance outside of Rebellion, tonight post-metal instrumentalists Telepathy are on another level. Their music is slow, pummelling and girthy – everything your girlfriend thinks you’re not – and, as it cascades from the front of the stage out into the crowd, it takes on a tangible and hypnotic, all-enveloping smog. The rest of the world floats away as wrung out distorted guitars and sluggish drums that rumble like giant’s footsteps chime in, before sudden and unexpected bursts of blast beats and stabbing, beautifully discordant guitars bring chaos and storms to their lapping sonic waves. They bang their heads in a trance like unison, bassist Teddy-James Driscoll the most animated as he throws himself across the aptly dimly lit stage. Rhythmically spasmodic but always haunted by some eerie, celestial quality, their set is dreamlike; you feel it in your chest too. Now making their way across Europe, it is clear to see how much tighter and how much more formidable a live act they have become through the hardened touring they’ve done since their Manchester show. What a band.
Then come Dopelord, here on the run up to their appearances at the Camden and Berlin Desertfest festivals. The Polish quartet has a dreary bleakness that presides within their stone baked tempos and churning riffs. Where Telepathy where bathed in reverb heavy tones and embellished their music with a smorgasbord or effects pedals, these guys opt for a raw, unpolished approach that has the room, unsurprisingly at the most packed it’s been all evening, wrapped. Their songs sound like explosions in slow motion. Repetitive, cyclical riffs like this don’t exactly get the blood pumping, but the smiles on the faces of the crowd and the bass-induced ripples spreading throughout everyone’s beers tell you that isn’t what they’re going for. This is meant to be snail slow and its meant to be dirty and honest and in that respect, there is no better venue than The Star & Garter and tonight it all jst makes sense. It seems everyone in the crowd knows each other and that sense of community bubbles throughout the room as their set plays on. Interspersing their mostly slow songs however are moments of Sabbath channelling grooves where the tempo kicks up a notch and things fizz into life. That contrast typifies their authentic, grass stained stoner metal sound and is the perfect send off for Stonebaked Promotions, who are retiring from putting on gigs after tonight. They did a phenomenal job hosting last year’s Manchester Metal 2 The Masses and have been a huge part of the stoner/doom scene in recent years and tonight’s line-up is credence to their ear for great music and an even better night out.
They’ll be missed, Dopelord, we’re sure, will be back again.