At the start of the month, after a lengthy chest infection and bout of ‘flu (which had also kept me from updating this blog), I celebrated the end of my sickness by heading down to the Black Magician/Mourning Beloveth show, at the Relentless Garage in Camden. Seeing as how I deserved something to make up for the drudgery of being ill, I was determined not to miss out.
The evening was fun, even if my feet were killing me. Barring the presence of The Prophecy, a melodic death metal band whom a number of young student types came especially to see (by the looks of it), it was thoroughly a true doom metal show. The aura was dark, the music was punishingly heavy, and the bands channeled the likes of early Candlemass, Trouble and Black Sabbath in not just body but soul.
Of particular notice to me, just because I was hearing them for the first time ever, were co-headliners Black Magician. Sticking to the traditional side of doom, before Mourning Beloveth kept its more gothic firs roaring, the Liverpool-based band showed that they not only knew their shit, but believed in it enough to drawl out a genuine occult spirit of their own.
For one, it’s not very often that keyboards are even given much attention by most new doom metal bands of late, which is fair enough when one takes into account that their overuse in modern metal could be off-putting enough to keep traditional bands from touching the instrument. Yet the difference when used in a Black Magician set is that rather than drown out guitar riffs in a sea of pop-synth (as sadly can and does tend to happen with young bands of any metal genre), the instrument is put to use as a stand in for a cathedral church organ. While not unique in itself, this actually helped the group create their own hauntingly devilish aura onstage. Next to the dragging drum syncopation and rough, back-throated chants of frontman Liam Yates, the keyboards connected together with these elements to bring out said aura. It was as if standing inside a classic British horror film, be it ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ or even ‘The Wicker Man’.
A video clip of Black Magician’s set at Relentless Garage (also known as The Garage) hasn’t yet presented itself on Youtube; a sign that someone didn’t film a band on their camera phone for once. However, this clip from Dublin Doom Days 2012 is one good example of what their performance was like in Camden, as is the second one from a concert in their home town of Liverpool back in February, 2013. The downside is that you’ll have to put up with some poor sound systems, but no one ever said hunting for (top quality) live clips was easy!
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