Words by Gayle Horovitz, Main Photos by Alan Swan Gig Photography.
The first gig in The Black Cave kicked off on a cold, wet November Friday night that left me looking for a warm place to hide. Instead of heading to one of the usual haunts there was an invite-only gig that peaked my interest, so I hit up one of the members of the bands to get the location of the gig. The venue is the brainchild of musical powerhouse, Andy Tactus, who was en route to finishing off the UK tour with the band Scumpulse. The space is being used and run by members from both Scumpulse and Tower of Flies. The idea, which is a successor to The Palace of Crust, is to have a laid back place for bands to have practices, as well as be a safe place to put on non-profit gigs.
Gluerash, a local project band with members from DTK, Facehandle and Thisclose kicked off the night playing intense fastcore, with distinct punk sensibilities. Godhole came to the stage next with Jamie Khrist on guitar/vox bringing a massive crust sound to proceedings joined by Jack Peppette on Bass and David on Drums keeping the fast and intense vibe going with heavy building breaks, as the venue quickly filled with folk.
The would-be headliners of the evening (and the first people to arrive armed with Buckie) Atragon, decided to speed up their contribution to give a super sweet, bluesy sound. I had been looking forward to finishing my night, totally steamin’ listening to some Doomy, Sludgy goodness pound through the small space, however, I was thoroughly impressed with what they pulled out the bag to fill the middle spot on the bill. Vocalist, Yan was mad keen, getting in about the pit from the start, fortunately the mic lead was long enough for him to meet everyone in the room; crowd participation was not optional, but mandatory. In such a small space there was no escaping the energy the whole band were generating. The room got sweaty fast with the amount of bodies; you couldn’t help but move and there was an upbeat vibe through the whole set. They pulled a G. G. Allin cover out the bag for the last track, happily there was no method acting so nobody ended up covered in shit. Happy days!
On the home stretch of their tour and still full of beans somehow, Scumpulse managed to summon the strength to play a blinding set. By this time the venue was akin to it’s name, a sweaty little cave and the band were quickly goaded and harassed into getting their “taps aff”, the room was in fact so hot that the majority of the crowd followed suit soon after. The set was full on heavy black crust with Ross Necro ruining his vocal chords for our listening pleasure. As always the back section was tight and fast with ripping solos from Magnus on lead guitar. Still hot off the back of the awesome EP ‘By Design’ the songs rolled out of them easily, they were obviously comfortable playing on home turf surrounded by friends and while still sounding tight and fresh, they had a laugh onstage and played a sweet set.
Tower of Flies, the surprise headliners for the evening finished off the night with their own brand of Thrashy Black Metal. It was their first gig with new guitarist, the beast from the Czech Republic, Radovan who was tearing it up from start to finish with James shredding over the heavy riffs. Andy on drums somehow managing to keep the big energy from Scumpulse over to Tower of Flies kept it going with amazing stamina. The whole band had an upbeat awesome party vibe throughout the set, keeping the energy alive in the room despite the inescapable heat. Vocalist Gregor tore the shit out of it for the set; he has a distinct death metal/doom sound which rounded off the whole sound brilliantly. Good to see this band as a complete entity again, still bringing the pain. I can’t wait to see if there are any new tracks in the mill for them with their shiny new band members.
However small the space was, and however much body mass we collectively lost sweating our tits off, the night was overall a huge success for everyone involved in organising it. The band members did everything from providing amps to buying plastic cups and ice. Everyone inside was making sure the space stayed safe. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the Black Cave, which is hopefully going to become a non-profit, DIY, self-policing venue! What the night showed was that grass roots projects are still an option without fear of some arsehole ruining it for everyone.