After the release of their fantastic new album Blood Eagle (reviewed by Swirls of Noise here), Liverpudlian stoner doom giants Conan descended on London to crush the sold out Electrowerkz venue, with support from Indian, Dead Existence and Bast.
Local London trio Bast were the first band up, playing an excellent brand of sludge with black metal influences. With veils of dry ice coming of the stage combining with the band’s dense wall of sound throughout, they create a great atmosphere. Bast have a real range to their playing, with long, really well put together songs the band are really tight, moving with apparent ease and excellently seamless flow between hypnotic spacey soundscapes with almost shoegazey guitar effects, dense walls of sludgey riffery, and pummelling sections of atmospheric yet crushing black metal – their songwriting is really intelligent. Vocally the band are really good, with guitarist Craig bellowing in true Sleep fashion, while drummer Jon has some great black metal screams. Playing four songs from their debut album Spectres, the band end their set with the excellent Outside the Circles of Time. With Conan’s Jon Davis coming out to watch them play, it’s a good endorsement for a great band, who went down well with the crowd despite being the opener.
Fellow Londoner’s Dead Existence had a tough act to follow, but their brand of hardcore tinged sludge ala Eyehategod went over well. With crushing riffs throughout, and a dark heavy atmosphere created by their lead guitarist’s technical playing, their set is definitely intense. With Jake’s passionate and vitriolic hardcore style vocals going excellently with the heavy riffs and dense atmosphere, the band play some really good music, however, each song seemed a bit too similar and ran into the next, meaning over 40 minutes their set was a little repetitive, and their style is perhaps a bit too similar to Eyehategod’s, but that’s hardly a bad thing, and they were very good nonetheless.
Americans Indian came on the back of their new 2014 album From All Purity, an uncompromising, unsettling beast of a sludge album, and this comes across in their great set tonight. With some absolutely demonic vocals and a caustic heavy sound, Indian play an unrelenting brand of sludge that’s all their own, blackened, noisy and brilliant, and when they left the stage it felt like their set was far too short.
The main event of the evening was definitely Conan, who’ve recently had a lineup change since the recording of Blood Eagle, with Chris Fielding replacing Phil Coumbe on bass. Having previously produced Conan’s material, as well as Bast’s debut album he fits into the band fantastically. Conan’s stoner doom assault on the night is so heavy that the riffs seem not to come from guitars and amps, but to have been summoned from the very earth itself. With an immense volume, and the most monolithic wall of sound of the night, no mean feat on a night which featured three other excellent sludge bands, Conan simply DESTROY the Electrowerkz. With a huge, dense sound, Jon Davis delivers riff after riff, and with his soaring cry over the top, he gives it his all in an unreal performance. When they batter the crowd with the faster, completely relentless tracks Foehammer and Gravity Chasm, the fast brutal drumming and rumbling bass combine with the riffage to create an absolutely monumental behemoth of sound, the crowd goes absolutely mad, and with banging heads and moshpits galore, the sold out venue loves every note.
With four great bands on the night, there’s simply only one word to sum up the night’s music – crushing.