|Venue:||Manchester Academy 3|
On the fence of the nearby Big Hand beer garden, someone has scrawled a rudimentary cock and balls alongside the slogan 'Sky Rok to Jesus'. There is no pube detail, and so hasty has this graffito been penned that they haven't even bothered to draw in a bell end. Maybe it is just a rocket. Either way, that's the kind of journey I expect this incredibly heavy line-up to send me on, albeit in the opposite direction.
What's that noise? It sounds like an iceberg collapsing. Well, if it isn't Liverpool drone doom heathens Conan! They weren't billed to appear, but by thunder they're very much welcome. It seems like as good a time as any to utilise frontman Jon's own neologism to replace the word 'riff' – BLURKE (it sounds like a geordie term for a chap). Their sans serif blurkes set teeth and eyeballs rattling in their sockets. The 'harmonies' (aye, that sounds ridiculous) between Davis' midrange battlecry and bassist Phil Coumbe's downtown growl make for the perfect barbarian narration. They play 'Grim Tormentor' live for the first time, and the handful of early birds swells to a ripple of slowly-nodding Manc skulls, in thrall to intervals between notes so minor that you find yourself headbanging backwards.
Dopefight emerge from the shadow of Conan's horns to throw some sticky weedian shapes, all slashed with an incisive sludge razor. Woody out of This is England attacks his kit like a blacksmith in a hurry, Jay minus Silent Bob oozes note-perfect riff lava and throaty punk disgust, while Benny Blanco from The Bronx maxes out some bottom end gravel. Some of the songs end strangely abruptly when you want another burst of the chorus, but at least it leaves you hungry, and this is what happens when you toke too much man, too much. They strike a good balance between galloping fun and malicious intent.
Ramesses take the oars and row us further into the heart of darkness. Mark Greening's cymbals are the size of pagoda tops, Adam Richardson's bass, voice and face a landslide of malevolent fuzz. But there's no Tim Bagshaw. I find out later he's moved to America and is no longer in the group. Sake man. Anyway, the stand-in dude in a somewhat incongruous Dripback tee wields a scarab-headed BC Rich admirably amid the psycho-delic torrent. 'Iron Crow' and 'Take the Curse' are cluster bombs of dark metal, while 'Sol Novico' smoulders and smokes in abject despond. In the middle of 'Baptism of the Walking Dead' I can barely make out what is happening such is the commotion of deafening evil. I look around to see a good number of De Niro faces being pulled; Manchester has been Ram-ified . They marry the primitive blitzkreig of Celtic Frost and Darkthrone to a maverick penchant for investigating the wilder experimental woods. I hope they can bed in a settled line-up again quickly.
EYEHATEGOD wander onstage smoking cigs, handing cans of beer out to the front rows. Like Usain Bolt at the blocks, they are nerveless, cocksure. Mike IX Williams jokes with the crowd, safe in the knowledge he is about to deliver victory. Throbbing feedback breaks out and sees them listing from side to side in agonised unison; waiting for that first note to hit. This is the sludge olympics, and Jimmy Bower is ready to cough his way over the line on the anchor leg. Exfuckingplosion. The new songs do EYEHATEGOD depravity as well as ever, while '$30 Bag' and 'White Nigger' herald the first aggressive barn dancing of the night; a domino effect of bodies pinballing against each other stretches back to the mixing desk. These are the filthiest hookers in the metal whorehouse, and you won't get better value for money elesewhere. However, six songs in, I realise my chauffeur awaits a mile and a half away, on the last bus to Chickentown. Exit the sky rok to hell's sphincter, pursued by a bear.
Posted: Fri 10 August 2012