Blazing sunshine and soaring, Mediterranean temperatures don’t exactly go hand in hand with an all day festival called Doomsday.
Skies cracking with thunder and a deluge of Biblical proportions would have been more apt.
But the lure of sizzling barbeques didn’t prevent a healthy crowd descending on Newcastle’s Trillians to witness some of the best doom, stoner, noise and drone the UK underground has to offer.
Even the news that Edinburgh instrumentalists Jackal Headed Guard of the Dead and Scouse doomsters Black Magician had pulled out was put into perspective: seven bands for seven pounds still takes some beating in this day and age.
Mid-afternoon saw Newcastle’s masked Transylvanian Sex Pest open proceedings with a barrage of caustic, oppressive electronic noise that enthralled some and sent others running for cover. Whatever the crowd reaction, it was a brave statement of intent from the organisers to put TSP first on the bill and about as far away from denim-clad trad doom as you could get.
Tyneside’s stoner metal groove unit Druganaut followed. Regular shows and support slots for the likes of Orange Goblin have honed the quintet into a fearsome live prospect and they were at the top of their game here. Frontman Craig Relf, in particular, delivered a stunning performance and the doom-boogie of Carradine’s Closet was one of many highlights.
‘Boogie’ or ‘groove’ aren’t words you could apply to North East minimalist doomsters Khunnt however. On stage after Druganaut, the band changed the pace with a slo-mo, pounding assault which distilled the doom metal template down to its most basic essence: monolithic, bottom-heavy music that’s impossible to ignore.
West Midlands sludgecore quartet Parole were another example of Doomsday’s colourful and varied palate. The band – along with Druganaut, the most accessible on the bill – brought an Eyehategod-style swagger to proceedings, and certainly made themselves some new friends in the north.
Newcastle’s Waheela, though, needed no introductions to Trillians’ audience, such has been the buzz around the band in recent months. Doomsday saw the band, fronted by the imposing Adam Potts, deliver yet another performance of breathtaking intensity – 30 minutes of part-improvised, crushing noise metal, that was seething and visceral, touching at times on the cathartic.
How do you follow that? With Liverpool’s ‘battle doom’ trio Conan (pictured) of course. Any worries that Trillians’ sound system couldn’t cope with their monstrous backline proved completely unfounded, as frontman/guitarist Jon Davis and his granite smashing rhythm section simply pulverised the venue.
Touring on the back of latest album Monnos, the band made sure their first time in Newcastle was a memorable one for all concerned and surely had the seismometers fluttering with the likes of Hawk As Weapon and Battle In The Swamp. Awesome stuff.
Bringing proceedings to a close were North Easteners Bong. To call the band ‘doom’ or ‘drone’ would be doing them a disservice, as their astral journeys defy pigeonholes or categorisation.
The quartet, who released their Mana-Yood-Sushai opus just weeks ago, aren’t a metal band as such, but they are very, very heavy… and this performance was hypnotic and enthralling, a single piece of music that ebbed and flowed.
The drumming of Rob Woodcock, of local heroes Tide Of Iron, added further splashes of colour to the band’s wash of sound, peppering it in just the right places.
Whether we make it to 2013 depends on whether the Mayans got it right but the success of this event would make a repeat next year very welcome indeed. Combining an adventurous line-up with a venue well-suited to this scene, Doomsday proved a celebration of heavy music and open minds.