05/25/2013, here's a date which was underlined on my schedule for some long months and now, I can willingly say that it'll remain engraved in my memories for a long time... This "Anthems of Doom" was taking place in Bressuire, 100 kms down Nantes (where I had to take Steph from Barabbas- coming from Paris- at the train station), a little town in the middle of nothing special (not to say "nowhere" or "in the asshole of oblivion" !)... no big town close-by, a doom gig with just national underground Doom bands, there's always "good" reasons that can be found, why not the Champions League final or the fact that it's Mother's day too on the day after ??? So, fuck yeah, just 75 people for such a killer line-up is totally abnormal and frustrating :(
Well, finally, when you're in it, finding great friends you meet with excitement once or twice a year, listening great bands with a good sound, sharing drinks and joints, having good fun... you forget everything :) Oh well, with all the bands playing at 150% and supporting their colleagues at 300% (not just by solidarity - believe me) the venue was finally reasonably packed and in any cases the general atmosphere very friendly and positive.
STONEBIRDS open with their infectious Stoner... Actually touring with their mates of Stangala, both bands will help one each other to fill their line-up, here first Thomas Coïc is on drums while he'll play with his usual band later. As you've maybe read it recently here, Stonebirds come from the "Kreiz Breizh" area (understand : the center of Britanny) and this tour is celebrating the release of those already famous "Kreizh Breizh Sessions", their split album with Stangala !!! The 1st song is a bit halting , maybe cause we're just a little dozen to be already there in front of the scene but people come in little by little and soon the power of the riffs prevails...
With a gnarly guitarist/singer delivering thick and crunchy riffs and a very skilled bassist (hard hitting his 6 strings) who occasionally is nicely shrieking on backing vocals, Stonebirds reveal themselves to be a very good discovery, accurate and incisive. The balance between warm and fuzzy with fluid and stellar moods sometimes remind me the welsh gods Sigiriya which is a serious reference in terms of thickness and catchiness ! I need to come back on them this summer for the blog...
Red is the Sky
THE BOTTLE DOOM LAZY BAND are nearly at home here (Poitiers is at just about 45 minutes) and it's quickly noticeable as the audience is a lot more packed now with quite many guys knowing old songs like "The Dead can't Loose Again" or the anthemic "Night of the Living Dead" !
Ben is very unbridled, almost in trance, and as always too he likes to share his bottle of Jack Daniels with fans (including my fucking body, hell yeah!). I think his flow on the new songs has much improved, the english diction is more assured and sedate... New guitarist is pretty impressive, much more groovy and rock 'n roll than the old founding member had special affinities with melodies inspired from Grunge/Alternative 90's rock stuff ! TOS (guit) is particularly cheerful and also unpredictable (his 1st stage diving surprised quite many people !), it's good to see guys who are so enthusiast to play...
And damn, the set is awesome including a great part of new songs, full of infectious Trad' Doom of course but also a raging and sick dementia which is communicative and pretty orgasmic at times !!! Those guys have a different approach from what you can usually see LIVE with a great part of DOOM bands : they're here to party, play loud and have fun with their fans... it's very friendly and definitely high voltaged doomy rock'n roll and I'm sure that nobody in the hall could have hoped more from their set which definitely launched the evening !!!
The Dead can't Loose Again
Lost n' Drunk
Night of the Living Dead
STANGALA played in 3rd position, luckily for drummer Thomas who has had an hour of rest after his 1st prestation with Stonebirds... I had been quite disappointed by their set in Rennes last year when they opened for Ramesses, but this saturday - things were favorably different on many points.
First they didn't have to face technical issues, 2nd Steven (guit/voc) seemed a lot more at ease in his leader's role (in terms of communication and implication shown, things could still be a bit improved though...) and I think the post of bassist was also more significantly assumed even if surprisingly shared between two guys from Stonebirds (half of the gig for each) ! A reduced and too limited time for the set prevented the band to play a 2nd (new) song of the split album, so "Ar Re Yen" was the only new one but the performance was good and it looks like the band finds little by little its marks on stage for a very original and personnal sound which is not easy to reproduce accurately in live conditions !
Doom Rock Glazik
Ar re yen
Bigoudened an Diaoul
Al lidoù esoterik an dolmen hud
If after nearly 20 years and 4 albums ("Winter" being the last released in 2012) NORTHWINDS is maybe the oldest french Doom band in activity, they're also one of the most underrated and that's something you feel even more like a sad injustice after having seen them on stage...
As I said there was not that many people at this gig but I'm sure that we were just a little half to really know them before they came on stage; well, the other half has now been quickly conquered by the exceptionnal quality and originality of their music !
The set alternates between old, recent and unreleased songs which is awesome (1st album title track, demo track, a couple of songs of "Winter", the title track of "Eternal Winter" -new album to come out before the end of the year- and another unreleased song too which will appear in 2014 on a mysterious Tape... you'll read more about this in an upcoming interview with the lads !!!); it shows too how the sound of the band has maturated over the years with a lot of work in composition and instrumentation (keyboards were present of course but from now on there's no flute anymore for live considerations... which is not lacking to say the truth), not forgetting an highly heartfelt approach and an immense respect for their fans.
The sound is good, crystal clear and perfect for the alternance of ominous doom and beautiful 70's progressive Rock moments like in the centerpart of the gig with the majestuous "Winter". Northwinds is one of those bands that totally transcend your senses and emotions, their set led me to the rare conclusion that for this 1st long awaited time I've seen them, they have fullfilled me even far beyond my expectations and hopefully this is a band to follow systematically wherever they could now play in France (which happens so fucking rarely)... you absolutely gotta check out and support this striking band !!! Now, I've just one regret : not to have managed to take a good picture of vocalist/drummer Sylvain !
Night of the Ritual
Great God Pan
Land of the Dead
To play very late and after 4 bands is not an easy task for any band... CHILDREN OF DOOM managed to make it intense and captivating until the end but I can't help thinking that if they had played a couple of hours before, they would have reduced the venue in ashes !!!
Guitarist/Singer Etienne Testard is an epileptic human bomb, the kind of authentic and charismatic caracter who forces everybody's respect and a great part of admiration... If you aren't afraid of tattoes, this guy is in appearance nothing except impressive physically but he imposes something unique, sick and amazing at the same time ! He plays a lot on sarcasm and has a kind of skinned-alive sensibility which denotes in this usually non-communicative relation between bands and their fans on stage...
Beyond this, he's a fantastic compositor of Doom'n Roll and the band starts with the title song from the debut album "Doomed, be Doomed ör Fuck Off", there's also "Bottle Ben in the Streets" in the middle of the set but all the rest is made of unreleased songs ! lucky assholes we are :) with "Rusty World" an old demo song, the band plays a bunch of great new songs (to appear on the new 2nd album) "Hidden girls", "Hate of Flag", "Another Way of Life", "Necrotramp" "Exit the Spiral" and the long delightful "... Al Hazred" which has been probably the doomiest song of the evening !!!
This give serious promises for a stunning sophomore album. The performance is huge and an encore would have been well deserved but it's now two o'clock in the morning and time to stop the loud volumes...
Little by little, fans leave the hall, we're lucky enough to be able to stay there with our mates and not to have to drive back home this late or even sleep in the car in the abnormal coldness of this fucked-up spring ! Next 4 hours will be good fun with a great part of all bands members (some nice human discoveries, interesting discussions, etc...) but I keep in mind that later today there's about 3 hours by car to come back at home for noon, we're celebrating my sister's 50th anniversary and I know it'll be hard to save appearances, hehehe ! So at about 6:00 I finally end with my sleeping-bag on stage, trying to sleep a couple of hours !!!
Thanx so much to all bands for providing so good heavy sounds, for their friendly and dedicated attitudes too and thanx to the organization for having the balls (of steeeeel !) to settle-up such a fantastic line-up - keep on guys, we'll be there next time ! (you too dickheads, just think about some true american, swedish or russian doomsters who would have sold their mother for attending such a gig with french Doomed treasures !!!)