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When: September 17, 2016

If you were offered a chance to spend an evening in a crypt, would you turn it down? If the answer is yes, then it might be best if you just leave, you might need to re-evaluate your life choices. If the answer is no then good for you, welcome to the rest of this review you big goth sod.

Primarily a venue for the jazz music, The Crypt, located in St.Giles Church Camberwell, is also a great venue for your ‘heavy rock music’. The stage space works perfectly, wrapping the harsh shouty-noise that I like to shovel into my cold undead ears in a thick web of gothic love strands. It’s cosy, slightly sinister and, when metal bands play, fucking loud. Deafeningly loud.

The reason I was haunting The Crypt on a chilly Saturday night was to attend a delightful looking gig organised by the fine folk at Cosmic Carnage, who to be honest have never disappointed me with their line-ups, even in the face of past drop-outs.

So when the excellent Early Mammal (check out their album ‘Take A Lover‘) had to pull out of performing, leaving a gaping fossil-sized hole to plug, I wasn’t too worried. That said, I was really looking forward to seeing Early Mammal and it was hard to shake the feeling of disappointment, but in stepped Prisa Mata, who if I’m honest I’d not heard of before. On the night, when they took to the stage (after a short delay) my Mammal-based disappointment soon dispersed and their groovy bass-riff heavy sludge brought the curtains up in bludgeoning style.

Second on the bill were the mighty HAG. HAG are truly an exceptional band, their complex but righteous riffing is just plain and simply ace. Fucking ace. How their recent album ‘Fear Of Man‘ hasn’t had a physical release (despite being made digitally available in January) is beyond my generally weak powers of mental comprehension. Seriously, it needs a vinyl release.

Anyway, this was the second time I’d seen HAG at the crypt (the first was in February supporting Part Chimp) and as always they absolutely smashed it. Fists were raised to the heavens, heads were rocked back and forth like flailing skeletons and smiles were curved around crooked lips. I lapped up HAG’s set like a rotting, reanimated corpse would feast upon the flesh of the living, which is to say I bloody loved it.

After a brief sit-down in the large outside area (I’m a 33-year-old man, I need to rest my bones every now and then) I lurked back into the sweaty depths for Nøught. Nøught are an instrumental ‘post-rock’ band who make a mathy, complicated racket which, to my nightmare-ravaged ears, sounds like a horror soundtrack from the 70s and 80s; think the lovely prog of Goblin. They’re totally good fun and it’s a great combo of venue and band. The Crypt gives Nøught’s serpentine sounds a crusty gothic tension, which as a mildly obsessive horror fan makes me feel all warm and fuzzy in my inside bits.

Next to fill The Crypt were headliners Ghold. Now I have to admit I love Ghold. Their album ‘Of Ruin‘ was one of my favourite records of 2015 and their recent ‘Pyr‘ is well on its crooked way to being one of the best of this year too. Their heavy, smokey doom has graced many of the best gigs I’ve been to in recent years, with their joint gig with Palehorse in May being one of the best gigs I’ve been to, period.

But, somehow Ghold missed the mark for me. After the high octane flourish of HAG and Nøught I was looking forward to being truly pummeled by the direct rawness of tracks like ‘Despert Thrang’ and ‘Partaken Incarnate’, but the set, which was more drone-focused than in the past (nothing wrong with experimenting mind) somehow lost its grip on my cling-clang frazzled brain.

It may have been the fact that I was knackered (having had very little sleep) or it could have been the many Newcastle Brown Ales I’d drunk, but the night’s set felt like a slight miss-step in an otherwise confident gallop towards musical destruction. I felt lost, like a loose cobweb, clinging to the chasms and dark corners of The Crypt as the room filled with feed-back and crashing cymbals. Whereas in the past, Ghold had nailed me to the floor.

Still, Ghold continue to remain an exceptional band; I will see them again live that’s for sure and I will continue to sink into their murky releases for as long as they continue to purge the dark depths.

So concluded what was another top notch evening in the company of some very fine bands indeed. As I say, Cosmic Carnage very rarely let you down with their line-ups and with gigs coming up featuring Big Naturals and Oozing Wound, you’d do well to keep your eyes (well, ears) out for more.

Luke O’Dwyer

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