With their unlikely blend of death metal and 70’s rock and lyrics about witches, Acid Witch‘s audience has grown slowly but surely among fans of doom and death metal. Their arrival was therefore quite anticipated and even if their first European must have been in a lot of small places, I have no doubt that most of those shows were packed as it was in London with fans waiting patiently to finally ear what these Americans could do live.
Spider Kitten was first with their mix of sludgy riffs and doom vocals. Their first bass player may only have been playing his second show with the band but he did not let that lack of experience get in the way of the huge bass line he played. Each of the four musician shined during their short set with the beautiful dual vocals of one of the guitarist and of the drummer, the psychedelic solo of the other guitarist or the strong chops on the sticks that the aforementioned drummer provided. Much of the power of the songs relied on his playing and he showed some excellent skills with some tribal parts that gave their songs some originality. A very convincing set from an unknown band that pushed me to the merch table to get one of their album.
Cultfinder was coming to and end with this show but I can’t say that I will miss their old school approach to death metal. Despite the solid qualities of the drummer, the lack of any memorable riffs during the first two songs pushed me to the exit very fast.
Bonehunter on the other hand lacks originality but plays some very convincing death metal powered by a constant crust beat. Two songs in and you already know everything you need to know about the band but the energy and the solid riffs made the performance of this trio very enjoyable. Think early Autopsy but without any slow part. The only grips I had with the band was with the volume of their kick. For some reason Bonehunter plays with an emphasis on that kick and it distracted me a bit from the riffs. You get used to it after a while but I would rather hear them play without it.
Finally, after an evening with a pretty good sound from all three bands, Acid Witch came on and showed quickly how much they lacked live experienced. All four musicians are pretty good at what they do and given some more time on the road they could easily recreate the mix of melodies and eerie atmosphere found on their albums, but tonight they just played too loud to give enough emphasis to the vocals and keyboard parts. The first song was spoiled by some problems with the bass monitor but got resolved quickly. Afterwards, the sound of the bass and the guitar was too loud to distinguish the first few songs. I only started to get into it when they played some recognizable songs from Stoned like Trick or treat or Black witch. The keyboard was still not powerful enough but the vocals and the enthusiasm of both the singer and the bassist made it work. Much like on the albums, the drum parts are not the selling point but they got the job done. At the end of the show, the crowd seemed enthusiast but I could not help but think of what it could have been or the musicians were more apt at setting themselves up to recreate the music they do so well. Hopefully the band will keep touring and we will have a better show next time around.