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Windhand / Satan’s Satyrs (live at The Borderline)

London
9 October 2017

Windhand live October 2017It’s been a few months since I last went to see a band at The Borderline, so I was somewhat shocked as I entered the venue as it seems like a totally different place. The one little bar has now been replaced by a massive long bar and an elevated standing area has been removed. Also, the entrance to the toilets seems like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey. For all its refurbishment, the whole place seems and feels smaller than it did before.

Tonight’s show is a sell out and it was good to see a few familiar faces from the doom scene of many years ago among the crowd. A big cheer welcomes Satan’s Satyrs to the stage and straight away they kick in to their loud in your face music. Sounding like a cross between Blue Cheer and MC5 with a bit of doom thrown in for good measure, their set was going to be nothing less that fast-paced and blistering. Songs like “Full Moon And Empty Veins” and “Alucard” crash along with raw power.

Satan’s Satyrs live October 2017

Sometimes singer and bassist Clayton Burgess has an almost Mick Jagger-like swagger about him and Nate Towle’s lead guitar can be beautifully subtle at times, throwing in a generous bit of psychedelia for good measure. The band have a good fun rock’n’roll feel about them, with enough great tunes to keep your feet tapping and your head banging.

Windhand are a blast from a breeze blown from the satanic underworld. Echoed guitars shimmer around the venue, hovering like birds of prey before the band forcefully crashes in to their trademark heavy doom. They are almost deafening as bass and guitars fight each other to see who will win the battle. Dorthia Cottrell grabs hold of the hem of her dress and screams into the microphone while Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris smash heavy riffs and chords together in their guitar duel. Songs like “Kingfisher” and “Woodbine” cross the boundaries of psychedelia and morgue-like occult doom. The band are almost studious in their relentless barrage of power as they stand sentinel over their instruments, with only drummer Ryan Wolfe being the most physical at times.

Satan’s Satyrs live October 2017

Anyone who knows Windhand’s albums knows that there is also subtlety to all this bombast. “Forest Clouds” seems to conjure up the feeling of the dark Norwegian woodlands populated by trolls. It has an eerie ethereal feel to it at points that transports you among the dank undergrowth. The sound tonight is often blisteringly loud, but the payoff is that sometime Dorthia’s vocals get lost in the wash of howling guitars, and it seemed that occasionally even she was having difficulty hearing herself on stage.

Tonight Windhand delivered what their fans in the UK had waited many months to hear; massive sludgy doom performed vibrantly that hit the audience like a tsunami of sound. Now all The Borderline has to do is get less disorientating sci-fi toilets.

-Gary Parsons-

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