Picture if you will an infamous scene, this will probably only work if you share the same love and adoration for Game of Thrones as I do. Cast your minds back to Season 4 Episode 8, one of the most infamous deaths in the Game of Thrones mythos. Two opponents pitted against one another. One, slow moving. lugubrious with brute force, The Mountain. The other, flight footed, cunning and deceptive The Viper. Now, picture Camden’s Electric Ballroom as their arena.
Pitted together on a co-headline tour whose line up would rival some of the very best, the first bout is taken on by Crowbar. Following their full performance of Odd Fellows Rest over at Roadburn just days before, the band now bring their signature sludge to London and they aren’t taking any prisoners. From the off, the impenetrable beard of Kirk Windstein sits atop the stage as the riffs of the appropriately titled “Conquering” pour out of the speakers on stage. Aside from the sheer power of each riff, the deafening volume is intimidating enough as the bludgeoning of “…And Suffer As One” followed later by “Planets Collide” makes for a suitably bruising one two punch.
Having not been hugely familiar with Crowbar, tonight was an absolute schooling in classic Sludge Metal. Nevertheless, there were points in the bands set where some of the material did seem to blur into one. Though it seemed as though the crowd were hanging on every note from the band and not to mention given that Windstein has reached the ripe age of 53 the wails that were coming out of him would rival even the youngest of Doom bands. Though my favorite aspect of the bands performance lay in their simplistic, classic approach of turn up and just play. Proving to many that the band are still just as vital to the world of Sludge as they were many moons ago.
Few bands in the world will ever reach the cult like status of that of Converge. Despite only being made up of four members the band may well have been the loudest experience I’ve ever had at a show. With each members different musical commitments the rare occasion to see these four pillars of Metalcore bind together live its quite simply like nothing I have ever experienced before. Opening their set with “Reptilian“s foreboding cleans acts as an incision into the emotional cavity that Bannon inhabits. Appearing from side stage, from this moment on all bets are off. As the clang of “Dark Horse“s bass summons the arrival of the first wave of mayhem, its here that we’re first introduced to the wide eyed, rabid gaze of Bannon. Creating a real sense of unease, the man’s movements work like a choreography that is simultaneously spontaneous as it is meticulously rehearsed.
Anchored by both bassist Nate Newton and guitarist Kurt Ballou, the two acts as impervious strongholds somehow keeping Bannon together whilst the relentless pace is kept up by Ben Koller, who has proves that simplicity is all you need with what almost looks like a house kit. As Newton’s scraping bass lines of “Under Duress” ooze out of the amplifiers emphasizing Converge’s musical weight. Though Bannon may well steal the show somewhat as the joyous aggression of “A Single Tear” is barrelled out, you can postively feel every inch of emotion. Creating an incredibly complex paradox where Bannon is seemingly emotionally vulnerable yet entirely impenetrable all the same, making for a particularly poignant rendition of “The Dusk In Us“, as we’re allowed a momentary glimpse into the suffering before dialing it back once more.
The likes of “Broken By Light” achieve a critical mass before seemingly pulling back the reins only to find that its a red herring and “Eagles Become Vultures” is hurled out at blistering speed. With a set list that encompasses almost all of their brand new album The Dusk In Us, its a testament to the band that 28 years later, these four individuals haven’t fallen short for one second. As the grand finale of “Cannibals” into “Concubine” ends the spellbinding oxymoron of emotionless sentimen, Bannon tosses the microphone so that it hangs on the lighting rig once again so carelessly yet with every intention and as it sways amid the sweat, this time The Viper well and truly beat The Mountain.