Stream excerpts from the album below:
Stream excerpts from the album below:
Proclaiming to be influenced by ‘heavy rock and psych from 60’s-70’s among other influences, Stubb originally formed in 2006 by now only original member Dickinson but it was only 2009 when the current line-up came together. ‘Stubb’ was recorded live with minimal overdubs and with a nice thick guitar tone, which is recognisable from the off. Any trepidation about this being another clichéd psych-rock release is thankfully largely unfounded. While Stubb are perfectly opaque when it comes to displaying their influences, they do so with effortless quality and with sparkling relevancy. ‘Stubb’ is eight tracks of mostly dirty, heavy rocking grooves, and the opening quartet are a real treat. The muddy tones of ‘Road’, complete with vocal mimicry of the post-chorus pre-solo lick make for a nice mid-to-fast flashy groover, before the deeper, bluesier grooves of ‘Scale the Mountain’ come into focus. The third track ‘Flame’ is epic, beginning in Kyuss-esque fashion, before morphing into a wonderful groove halfway through, and the uptempo boogie of ‘Soul Mover’ is bound to make you want to shake.
NB: Cheers to Stubb for supplying a promo
Due to my poor timing and the journey taking longer than planned, we managed to arrive moments after Funeral Throne finished. Now, with only candles set up around a shrine in the middle of the stage, and droning atmospheric ambience for entertainment, we waited for what seemed like a long time. The ‘scary music’ was unceasingly dribbling out of the PA system, giving a restless and cheap feeling that probably wasn’t what The Devil’s Blood intended. Not to worry, this at least gave me more opportunity to spend over three pounds a pop for cans of lager.
Eventually five very serious looking figures covered in mud, blood and adorned in tight leather pants enter the stage. The frontwoman or ‘priestess’ remains out of sight for the moment, while her brother, the creative and spiritual force behind the band, tightly harmonises and solos with the other two guitarists.
The guitarist closest to me chants to himself whilst staring directly ahead in a way that makes me think he might have seen action in ‘Nam. The Devil’s Blood haven’t ever given the impression that they do this for the love of music. Anyone who’s read up on the band will know that their objective is possibly more sinister and occult; it’s also of much less interest to me. Obviously I can’t speak for all as Ghost’s recent success has shown; there seems to be a lot of people who find it fascinating. Still, The Devil’s Blood were crazy long before Ghost started dressing up as necrotized Klan members and spouting their devil worship. The Devil’s Blood’s explanation of their agenda and belief seems cryptic and long winded, but is basically aimed at instilling rebellious behaviour, and it’s no surprise to me that they ideologically align themselves with the likes of Jon Nodviedt from Dissection, whose beliefs lead him to shoot himself instead of making another fucking album.
The band’s creation of atmosphere is the first thing to be emphasised. Songs seem to be more of a ritual than played track after track. Lengthy build ups lead into a sublime moment where songs such as ‘On the Wings of Gloria’ come in with a spine shattering bass line. This is where The Devil’s Blood’s brilliance, which is their strength of their songs, becomes apparent. The vocalist stands close to the crowd, her arms open wide, beckoning, with wild hair and shrouded in smoke. Her powerful, melodic voice slices through the mix like a razor through flesh. It would be easy for her to over indulge, yet the performance fits the band’s psychedelic rock influenced style perfectly, adding another dynamic that makes The Devil’s Blood special. Another is the bands ambiguity in terms of their musical design, their certainly black metal fans but draw just as much in their style from the likes of Fleetwood Mac amongst an array of trippy 70s rock. I find the band avoids mediocrity and distastefulness completely, even lyrically, on a subject I generally find to be arrogant and stupid. ‘The Yonder Beckons’ was certainly a highlight in the set, with the band at their most imposing, creating a powerful energy to the haunting march of the song, which gives prominence to the bands most powerful weapon which is their musical subtlety.
Unfortunately the electrical atmosphere these moments created did not last, and the band did not attempt to keep it flowing by moving on quickly. Jams inbetween and during songs were far too lengthy; there would come a point where the crowd, nodding along, would expect the start of the next song, and instead were subjected to another five minutes of solo trade-offs between guitarists. I felt sorry for the bassist having to hold onto what shred of a riff they were playing ten minutes ago. Although it would have worked in moderation, there were several point’s when I wanted them to stop fucking about and play a fucking song. It was a shame that these moments had to contrast so much with the great ones, and also with the band’s ability to write songs with none of the bullshit or ego that was displayed live. This, combined with the venues’ consistently bad sound didn’t stop the band from being an impressive, enjoyable experience and I left happy, also I’ll know at what points to go to the bar when I watch them at Hellfest.
I had a lot of difficulty getting hold of this album and was determined not to resort to a cheeky download. Incredibly, the first copy of this album I managed to obtain was on cassette, which I found in a charity shop in Leeds early last year! But I didn’t want to play the tape, even though its potential collector’s value was lost due to the inlay being perforated. Unfortunately, the CD version too appears to be out of print, and finding a CD is very hard to find; hence, if you’re to find this, you’re probably best trawling eBay, or taking an MP3 download, legal or not. I eventually saddled with Amazon.
That said, don’t be put off exploring this album, particularly if you like your metal old-school. It’s a fantastic record and well worth the effort to track down. If only more metal fans in 1992 shared my enthusiasm.
To the majority of you, Wiht will be an unfamiliar name. But to those of you among the UK stoner/sludge/doom underground, the Leeds three-piece are a burgeoning force. Having had the pleasure of sharing a bill or two alongside them, I can vouch for their vast potential and incredible live performances that are starting to get them noticed. ‘The Harrowing of the North’.
‘The Harrowing of the North’ comprises only two tracks, but over a running time of roughly 33 minutes. It’s a concept EP, as the bands puts it:
“Taking influence thematically from the subjugation of the North of England by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it tells the troubled history of doomsday-era Yorkshire- the king massacred it’s people and destroyed the land to ensure it held no economic or cultural worth and would remain under his subservient rule.”
The title track, which opens proceedings, weighs in at a hefty 20:46 on the clock, but isn’t weighed down by it at all. It takes a good three and a half minutes before there’s any sign of the drums, preceded by a tolling and ominous intro, but soon rolls into action with a storming riff. The song twists and turns through numerous different passages, ranging from thunderously heavy to psychedelic and even minimal. The S/T EP was good but this is a major step up, incorporating all kinds of influences and melding together for one satisfyingly heavy jam.
Track two, ‘Orderic Vitalis’, gets on the front foot a little quicker, a bass intro soon leading into a mighty big riff. It soon heads back to the prominent bass riff with some psychedelic guitar and ambience effects, and minimalistic drums. This continues on this route for some time, taking you on a journey through a chasmous place, eventually building back up at about the 4:25 mark. The riff that soon follows is huge, backed up by bass and thunderous drums. Psychedelia filters back in around six minutes in and there’s a huge astral riff around 6:50 to get your head around. The remainder of the song continues down this path, mixing heavy stoner rhythms and echoey guitars frequently as the song heads for the sky, fading to synth at the very end.
‘The Harrowing Of The North’ is a masterclass from start to finish, and despite the huge song lengths, it’s entirely attention-keeping throughout, thanks to plethora of ideas placed on show. Fans of bands such as Neurosis, ISIS, Pelican, etc. would be far worse off for not checking out this band. And as a pay-what-you-like download, you owe it to the band to go check them out and discover one of Yorkshire’s best-kept secrets – which surely won’t remain that way for too much longer.