When the iconic The Hole in the Wall in Colchester closed down earlier this year, it was a real blow for the locals. Many feared it would effectively kill off the local scene. The venue had housed many local talents who have gone out to achieve greatness (Dismanibus, Kaine and Old Man Lizard to name a few) and played host to bigger and international bands such as Conan, Hotel Wrecking City Traders and Cultura Tres. But luckily the scene licked its wounds and reassembled at a new venue, The Waiting Room (named so because it was an old bus station). When trying to find the venue, I accidentally stumbled upon another venue where a Kooks cover band were playing. ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ was probably not going to be played at the venue on Saturday, even though a Slabdragger cover would be interesting. One difference between The Waiting Room and The Hole was that the gigs were not free at this venue. But I was happy to pay a measly £4 to support the bands that had traveled here to play for us. The atmosphere was great too, unlike The Hole everyone was here for the gig and so there were no disgruntled patrons who had to put up with some sludge. But just like The Hole, the staff were friendly and helpful.
The first band of the night were the brilliant Goat Monsoon. For only their third gig, Goat Monsoon were certainly off to a strong start. They performed songs from their brilliant Blue EP (reviewed here), as well as a few others yet to be recorded, even adding an improvised jam to the mix. The likes of ‘Lord of the Hive’ and ‘Alpha Kings’ sounded just as raw live as they did on the EP. Goat Monsoon were clearly well rehearsed, every pedal touch was on time and every beat was in synch. The evening had got off to a great start.
Raising the bar though were the wonderful Earthmass. Showcasing new material (one song was called Awake/Crisis and the other was untitled as of this moment) from their upcoming LP, as well as ‘Keep’ from Lunar Dawn and ‘Kalla Eldr’ from the excellent ORMR (reviewed here), they were on majestic form. Having a much bigger stage than The Hole in the Wall, they used the space to their advantage to let the music and passion flow freely without the worries of confinement. It was clear they were a well oiled machine from their show, even if it was sadly brief. The music during the less heavy sections had a quality of astral beauty to it, which contrasted nicely with the more vigorous parts of the songs. No talking in between songs gave the band a fantastic experience that elevated it beyond a simple show, it was an experience.
Something far more darker followed Earthmass, a dark nihilistic force known as Grey Widow. Hailing from the dark corner of the UK known as Brighton, the band wasted no time in laying down the hate. That is until a problem with the power halted their set. But once the power was restored a wave of blackened nihilism filled the venue. The band were unrelenting with their attitude and determination to scare. Their doom-orientated sludge was great to experience live and it created a unique atmosphere. One of the highlights of the night came when fans of the band made a human pyramid midway through their set. I do not know why this happened, but I’m glad it did. The band were so fierce that a representative from Colchester council complained about the noise.
Finally, the headliner we were waiting for, Croydon’s Slabdragger. The band played a shorter set than expected, but it was still a mighty fine way to end the evening. With Jack Newnham (wearing an excellent Coleman’s Mustard T-shirt) of Meadows and Old Man Lizard fame filling in for drums, the band hammered their way until their set was over and if you excuse the pun, didn’t drag on in the slightest. Playing a set that was pure fun, it was a fine way to end the day as pure stoner sludge riffage blasted out the mammoth amps in the venue. With the twin vocals of Yusuf Tary and Sam Thredder, who were on fine form tonight, it was a clear reminder of why the band earned a spot at Damnation Festival last year. I could certainly see their appeal and why they were heroes back in their native London.
Colchester has found a new home for metal music, let’s hope its legacy is as good as The Hole in the Wall.
Photos by Sammy Carlton Photography.