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Moss/Purson/Black Magician (live at The Underworld)

15 May 2013

Purson at the Underworld (pic: Andy Oram)It had been a while since I was last at The Underworld in Camden. At one point I almost seemed to live there, seeing some great doom bands week after week, so it’s always good to come back here. And what a night to do it on, a night of diabolus in musica with three of the hottest bands around.

As I enter the darkened room Black Magician are already creeping into their set. Haunting organ underpins some massive doom-laden riffs that hang in the air like the smell from a charnel house. Their sound is a mixture of huge Black Sabbath-style chords with eerie keyboards and a vocalist who sounds like he’s screaming from the very pits of hell. Their set is short and punchy but has the feel of covens practising their craft in darkened woods. Their t-shirts proclaim they are “British Doom” and this sound could not be created anywhere else or other than by people force-fed Hammer Horror and The Wicker Man when they were younger. Catch them live if you can.

Up next is Purson promoting their début album The Circle and the Blue Door. Fronted by singer and guitarist Rosalie Cunningham, they kick start their set with the wonderful “Spiderwood Farm,” a rocker that seems seeped in some eternal thatched house within ancient woodland. The tune borrows as much from psychedelia as it does from classic doom riffs. The set moves apace with the two singles from the album, “Leaning on a Bear” and “Rocking Horse.” Rosalie’s guitar solos are fantastic and the new bass player does an admirable job, seeing it’s his first gig with the band, keeping the rhythm tight.

Purson at The Underworld (pic: Andy Oram)

At his keyboards, Sam Shove  sports a Roxy Music/Eno-style look in a furry jacket as he adds carnivalesque flourishes to the songs. “Well Spoiled Machine” and “Sapphire Ward” are both played with meaning and show the diversity within the band’s songs well. A non-album track “Wool” is played (the next single maybe?) and all-too quickly the band are sliding into their last track, the B-side to their first single “Twos and Ones.” The set is powerful and leaves a lasting effect and this is a band within the doom scene who is trying so sound different and making their particular special mark with their brand of glam, doom psychedelia. Go and see them next time they play and pick up the album – you won’t be disappointed.

Moss at the Underworld (pic: Andy Oram)

I haven’t seen Moss play live since the Rise Above anniversary gig a couple of years back. So I was looking forward to seeing them live again, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. With no bassist, just drums, guitar and vocals, they certainly make an unearthly noise. Singer Olly is up front dressed like he’s just stepped off the inside sleeve of Paranoid, with a large cross around his neck and making supernatural vocal utterances. His clear voice cuts through the massive doom riffs and pounding drumming from the band.

The guitar playing is huge, chords hanging in the air like flying demons and come crashing down with smashes from the cymbals the devil himself is dragging souls down below. They play a selection of tracks from the new album Horrible Night as well as crowd-pleasing favourites like “Tomb of the Blind Drugged.” The set ends with a screaming feedback chord that almost seem to go on forever until it is cut brutally short. This appeared to be their last date of the tour with a promise of more dates in the autumn.

All three bands were at the top of their game and made it a night to remember or a gig you wished you had gone too. Then we all have to slowly file out into the Camden night the sounds of screaming guitars ringing in my ears and somewhere the sound of demonic laughter.

-Gary Parsons-
-Pictures: Andy Oram-

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