I’ve written this before, but Hole in the Wall is one of the best venues in the UK. Many fantastic bands play there from the local talent such as Dismanibus and Old Man Lizard, to international bands such as Cultura Tres. Every time a fantastic event is put on at the Hole in the Wall, I always feel like I’ve gotten away with theft after every gig and tonight with Conan (who were just announced for the Damnation and Hellfest festivals), I felt like I had gotten away with murder.
Opening up were Bismuth, a two piece experimental Doom band from the UK, consisting of Tanya on bass and vocals and Joe on drums. The show was extremely unsettling and tense which made it all the rather enjoyable, while Bismuth’s entranced fan base lapped up every minute with many other attendees felt alienated by this niche sound. Midway through their set, Tanya joked “we have one song left and it’s 16 minutes long so we better get going,” causing a few laughs. Despite distaste for the drone metal genre, the strangeness and fear of the unknown made Bismuth a solid and oddly enjoyable opener.
The Hole started to fill up for the more accessible Meadows, a band that received a hero’s welcome as they returned to Colchester. To say I enjoyed Meadows set would be an understatement as I had a huge grin on my face throughout the entire show. Opener ‘Earthhorn’ showcased the band’s talent and showmanship with many attendees headbanging in unison. The quartet who hail from Sudbury, Suffolk then played a track from their up and coming split with Sky:Lark called ‘I am Stone Head’ – this was sure to be another entertaining track to the Meadows pantheon. The band then ended with a mesmerising cover of ‘Dragonaut’ by Sleep; this unexpected treat was a brilliant end to a show by one of most entertaining bands to play Colchester.
Essex’s Earthmass can be seen as something of a supergroup as they feature members of Chestburster and The 5 String Dropout Band; maybe this was why the room was full of eager fans headbanging to their music. Their set reminded me of Mastodon at some parts while at other times Electric Wizard – this is by no means a criticism as the four piece produced a technically outstanding display of riff wizardry. Earthmass drew the audience in and ensnared them for half an hour of progressive metal with some excellent solos in place. Certainly earning a headline slot at the venue, the band walked off triumphantly, but the real reason the audience was in attendance were waiting in the wings.
Liverpool’s Conan are one of the shining lights of the stoner doom scene. With upcoming appearances at Roadburn, Hellfest and Damnation, the chance to see the band for free was a mouth-watering prospect. Despite arriving late (something the band apologized for), by the time opener ‘Hawk as a Weapon,’ was over, everything else seemed insignificant to Conan. Apart from apologizing for being late and announcing new material, frontman Jon Davis (read my interview with him here) spoke little to the audience, but he didn’t need to as the heavier-than-an-elephant riffs did the talking for him as they blasted out amps the size of an NBA star. Playing some impressive new material including ‘Foehammer,’ the new material is shaping up to be of truly mammoth proportions. During a few titanic breakdowns in the set however, I was distracted by drummer Paul O’Neil as he looked like my old Sociology teacher. But this did not ruin the set as Conan came and conquered Hole in the Wall with their Caveman Battle Doom. It’s amazing that the building’s foundations were still standing after the doom onslaught unleashed on Colchester.
Walking out the venue I felt like I had escaped a murder charge with the amount I had enjoyed tonight. I was all doomed out and ready to sleep, but my ears were still ringing from the heaviness of Conan. Please see them at Damnation if you dislike Carcass, they won’t let you down.