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Saturday, 15 April 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Church Of The Cosmic Skull (Live Review By Paul)

Church Of The Cosmic Skull, Vodun & YSNBWATID, Trinity Centre, Bristol

In a departure from the more routine metal that we often watch here at the Musipedia we travelled across the Bridge once more to the fabulous Trinity Centre for a night of psychedelic rock. Opening up proceedings, were You're Smiling Now But We'll All Turn Into Demons (6), a four piece from Portsmouth. A dirty fuzzy sound, powerful and trippy shook the venue to its foundations as the band's instrumental meanderings took hold. With slower passages combined with some intensely heavy sections YSNBWATID certainly ensured that attention was captured, at least to begin with. By the middle of the set the repetition meant interest was starting to wander and whilst the intensity on the stage never let up, the lengthy pieces eventually wore a little thin. Still, a band that has been kicking around for over 15 years must be doing something right and it was a decent start.

Having listened to their Possession album recently I knew what Vodun (10) sounded like but nothing could prepare for their quite scintillating live performance. Their Afro Doom heavy sound comes across on record but put the three piece on stage and the world simply changes. With an appearance that stimulates visually, the three members clad in brightly swirling psychedelic patterns and body paint kicked off with a cacophony of noise that met with instant approval from the audience. And then vocalist and percussionist Oya started to sing. Wow! What a voice. I read a review recently that made the Aretha Franklin comparison and I have to say that this lady has similar power. By the end of the set she was barely able to speak such was the intensity of her performance.

She was flanked by the whirling long haired and quite astonishingly painted guitarist Marassa whose nimble fretwork summoned both light and dark, Doom laden riffs and more delicate floral patterns were all summoned with ease. The crashing drums held the whole thing together, drummer Ogoun making a remarkable noise for one so slightly built. The power in which she hit the drums quite captivating. A perfectly paced set climaxed with the front row joining in on percussion and a feeling of what just happened surged through me as the band finished.

Following that was always going to be a huge task so a well done to Church Of The Cosmic Skull (7) for being brave enough to have Vodun on board. The Nottingham based band strike an impressive image, all seven members clad in white with the three female band members front and centre, cellist Amy Nicholson flanked by vocalists Jo Joyce and Caroline Cawley. The band kicked off with Mountain Heart from their enjoyable album Is Satan Real? which obviously provided the bulk of the set. The band attempted to deliver their new religious experience on a largely already committed audience. The band play a psychedelic flavoured rock with Hammond organ (Michael Weatherburn) prominent throughout.

The band appeared to be a little disjointed which is no surprise given their newness which killed the momentum at times. With so many members on stage movement is often limited and guitarist and vocalist Bill Fisher and bassist Sam Lloyd were pinned to the rear of the stage. Full marks for their backdrop which played messages of love and hope before each song. Ultimately the band could do with a bit more beef in their sound, which at times was a little lightweight. I'm not yet a convert to The Church but I'm agnostic rather than atheist at this stage.

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