w/Ashen Crown, Blood Church and Tumanduumband
The Gifford Arms, Wolverhampton
Review by Rob Sutton
It’s been a long time since I have ventured to the Midlands for a gig and my third time visiting Wolverhampton. Tonight, took me to The Gifford Arms, a fantastically gothic themed pub where the owners have clearly put a lot of thought into making this place stand out from the other pubs in the area and other venues across the UK. There are so many details to take in, from the giant bat above the beer garden to the throne by the main bar. It’s truly a place I would recommend visiting.
Tonight, is a heavy affair as it’s the final date of Black Tongue’s UK tour. While the venue (upstairs) may seem a little on the small side it does provide a more intimate feel to this gig. This plays right into the first band of the nights hand. Two piece Satanic/Doom outfit Tumanduumband from Stourbridge. Sadly, issues with the bass led to a lengthy delay at the start of the gig and with a curfew on the night this isn’t a great start but can’t be helped either. So, before I start, I am not the biggest fan of the doom genre and with there only being a bassist and a drummer I am apprehensive on what to expect. The whole show begins with eerie drones from the bass while the drummer begins to baptise members of the audience with blood and chant ‘hail Satan.’ This immediately sucked me in and once the music kicked in the whole feel felt incredibly dark, more so than most black metal I listen to. I felt like I was at a cult meeting. This is an interesting concept and one I did enjoy but it did feel a bit out of place on this bill and the ‘Hail Satan’ chant did get a bit tedious after the first four times.
Next up was Blood Church from Telford. This is a band I have been following for quite some time and was lucky enough to catch them on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock this year. They were one of my highlights from the stage as well, so my expectations were high. On first viewing of Blood Church, they are all coated in corpse paint much like you would expect from a Black Metal band, though once the haunting twang of the guitar intro ended and Chris (vocals/bass) shouts ‘let’s get this shit going Wolverhampton and the first track kicks in, you will not find conventional black metal but a hybrid of Deathcore, Black Metal and Slam all being done on ironing boards (8 string guitars). From that first note this is an onslaught and the whole venue turns into a brawl, front to back, side to side, there isn’t a single person standing still. The breakdowns these boys have created are amongst the heaviest in the scene right now topped with a vocal range that many of the top vocalists in deathcore would be jealous of. This all makes it an intense, heavy and simply incredible set and one of the most enjoyable I have seen this year.
Ashen Crown has been at the forefront of the underground metal scene for some years now, it’s easy to see why as well. Not only have they got a great social media presence but their music is fantastic. Their take on death metal isn’t reinventing the wheel but sounds fresh. The harmonies throughout each solo are almost beautiful and do put a smile on your face. These guys are also the most interactive band of the night, actually wandering into the crowd on the rare occasions a pit isn’t blocking their path. With the previous two bands being a bit slower in overall tempo it was quite nice to have a bit of speed on the night, they really lifted the energy of the evening even if they didn’t quite get the reaction Blood Church before them did. Ashen Crown managed to secure a slot on the Sophie Stage at Bloodstock this year and from this performance it’s easy to see why. They are engaging, fast, tight and technically on point. These guys already are on the up in the underground scene and with performances like this, they will continue on the up.
While the support bands tonight have been fantastic, there is really only one reason we are all here, the down-tempo, Hull heavy-weights, Black Tongue. They have been making a name for themselves by being brutally heavy and relentless in their aggression. Tonight, is no exception. I thought the pits for Blood Church were carnage but I hadn’t seen anything yet. At this point I’m probably one of only ten people in the room not in the pit, bodies are literally being flung everywhere, nearly taking out the P.A. system, the bar and even the band themselves. Black Tongue perform with such precision, all done through a laptop meaning the drums aren’t your standard acoustic kit but a more modern electronic kit and there isn’t a guitar cab in sight. It’s a very interesting set up which sounds fantastic for the most part but in places can end up sounding a little too artificial for a live show. They were also plagued with every guitarist’s worst nightmare, a broken string. While they did their best to fill the time by getting the crowd to tell jokes, it did take a while and I think deprived us of a fair few songs. Nevertheless, the full set was relentless, they completely owned this stage and probably every stage they played on the tour. Black Tongue are by far the heaviest band on these shores and are the perfect band to either snap your neck to or snap someone else’s neck to.
This was a long day, Wolverhampton is a fair drive on a Sunday night, but it was worth it. The venue was sublime, the bands were fantastic and this made it one of the best Sunday evenings I have spent in a long time.
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