Monday 12 February 2024

A View From The Back Of The Room: Godsticks (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Godsticks, Karmen Field, Edit The Tide & Risperidrone, The Bunkhouse, Swansea 09.02.24

Another year, another Godsticks tour, but with a big difference that in Swansea the bill was stacked with a lot more talent to support the Cardiff based band. More about the headliners later but first it was back to The Bunkhouse in Swansea, on a dank and dreary night we were ready for some riffs. 

Opening the evening was the explorative doom of Risperidrone (8), a band I first caught supporting Bokassa on the hastily assembled show at Fuel late last year. Here they continued to impress with some long slow, atmospheric doom metal which has the introspective edge of Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride, the between song banter could use some work but I guess they're trying to be moody. Still musically they hit a sweet spot. 

Next was something totally different Edit The Tide (7) seemed to have a few issues before they took the stage but it could be because they seem to have three vocalists. Though I'm not sure why as their dedicated singer seems good enough to carry the melodic/post hardcore/metalcore/groove they play. They're from Bridgend there was a lot of mouth and expletives in between the songs but the Swansea crowd lapped it all up as they shifted from song to song. While not really my type of music I can say that Edit The Tide carry the legacy of many of the bands that hail from that part of Wales, with a debut album on the way they futures bright.

Next were a band I've not seen for a while, but Christ on a bike they absolutely nailed it in front of the packed Bunkhouse. Karmen Field (9) were the best I've seen them, snarling, high kicking, bewitching vocals, alt/prog riffs, swirling psych solos and muscular rhythms from a bold back room, the band are a formidable force in venue with a big sound system. I'll admit they never quite clicked before but they do now, the visuals (costumes) betraying how heavy they actually are as they played tracks from their debut album Black Star Emperor, the title track and Cut The Chord being two killer cuts. 

With Karmen Field really turning up the pressure, thankfully a veteran, polished act such as Godsticks (9) are always able to give a good show. If not a familiar one but that is something frontman Darran admitted, saying that they had learned some other songs to make sure that these shows differed from their last South Wales show in June 2023. This was when he wasn't telling the Swansea crowd to fuck off due to a show several years ago where 6 people turned up. His banter is 'proper Cardiff' cheeky but carrying some confident malice too as they played tracks from across their most recent albums. 

Darran and Gavin share lead duties throughout weaving between each other with Darran handling what they call "the chug" along with bassist Francis as Gavin tends to do more of the fiddly things. Both though are always heavily worshiped by the prog faithful in attendance. As for Francis his playing is top notch, an additional lead instrument that forms a bridge between the guitar duo and drummer Tom's massive drumming power. Though I won't mention about Francis' looks so as not to incur the wrath of Darran. 

You know what you get with a Godsticks gig, quality alt/prog with chunky riffs, great vocals and songs that can bring both emotion and revelry. In The Bunkhouse too they sounded better than at any time I've seen them previously. 

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