Black Heart, Camden, London
November 6, 2013
The Black Heart in London is an awesome venue – intimate, friendly and satisfyingly ‘metal’ – but it doesn’t matter who’s playing there, a bit of band/audience interaction is vital to a successful gig. Even when it comes to the world’s most miserable kind of music, Doom Metal!
Sadly, neither Pilgrim nor Windhand seemed particularly interested in those of us who had ventured into the night to spend some time with them, so while their performances were musically immense, we left with a sense of mild dissatisfaction.
Pilgrim were up first, and we were surprised to see a new bass player (we’re always the last to know) who looked like he was in the wrong band. He was keen to strip to the waist to show off his physique while Pilgrim’s two other (somewhat less toned) members looked on with mild awkwardness. Surely Doom Metal is more about self-loathing than self-loving? This new chap also sported a flying-V-style bass – a questionable addition to the band to say the least. That said, he and they battered out their muscular tunes with power and precision, particularly the crowd-pleasing ‘Astaroth’ which got everyone into a gentle froth. Amazing song.
Some uncertain joke about British TV aside, frontman The Wizard (vocals and guitar) could barely muster sufficient energy to say hello between songs. They’d already played a few shows around Europe, and to be honest seemed a little jaded. The same could be said of Windhand, whose singer Dorthia Cottrell spent most of the evening with her back to us. It was quite strange. Maybe it was something we said. Maybe that’s her ‘thing’ and we should have known? Whatever, it was tedious.
More of a problem, however, was that we could not hear either of the singers in all their glory. While The Wizard complained about sound problems a few times, Cottrell was often drowned out by the swirling doom madness that her cohorts were bent on creating. A shame, as we had been looking forward to hearing their interesting and distinctive voices.
This is not intended to be a negative review, because the lasting memory is of a heavyweight night of powerful, confident and intense Doom Metal. It’s just that we had been hoping for more charisma, perhaps unfairly influenced by the two bands’ American-ness. And while they did not deliver on our subconscious desire for Hollywood, they certainly hit the spot when it came to volume and quality. We left this great little venue with ears ringing, but feeling a little unsure about who we had just spent the evening with…