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ALUNAH @ Star And Garter, Manchester, England

ALUNAH / Widows / KI / Beast / Ten Foot Wizard / Arke / Pigwitch / Pist
in Saturday, 31 May 2014 at Star And Garter
by Danny Sanderson / Michael Coyle

It's a gloriously sunny day in the normally dreary and damp Manchester, and the city has a carnival atmosphere about it. This is probably due in part to the fact that the Boy Band ONE DIRECTION are playing a show at the Men Arena tonight. But in a little pub, not far from where these pillocks are playing, many people have gathered to worship at the altar of Doom. The assembled bands are a great example of the North West's finest rising Doom and Stoner acts.

Opener's PIST fly through their set, consisting of songs off of their debut EP "Riffology", and they warm up the crowd nicely, even if that crowd is a small one. It is a shame that more people weren't present to check these guys out; they hit you in the face like DOWN, while simultaneously making sweet love to your aural cavities with their psychedelic guitar lines in the vein of ORANGE GOBLIN. These guys are definitely ones to watch.

Likewise, Blackburn's PIGWITCH play a great set, bringing monster riffs and brilliant keyboard sections to the crowd who are now starting to fill the room. By this point, many of ONE DIRECTION's older fans (the one's who are old enough to go inside a pub unsupervised) are trickling into the Star And Garter, and seem surprised to be hearing some decent music being played in such a small and unassuming venue. It's strange watching these guys dressed in ONE DIRECTION shirts wandering around among rockers decked out in patch jackets. They make a swift retreat back outside after a couple of minutes however.

Then it is time for ARKE to hit the stage. The room almost seems to throb to the pulse of their groovy, distorted stoner riffing. They play decently, but don't really stand out as much as some of the other acts on the bill. Nonetheless, they go down well and get a decent crowd reaction.

TEN FOOT WIZARD proved to be one of the best acts of the whole night, and they are able to get the entire crowd moving with their Hard Rock anthems. Their performance is energetic and lively. They manage to combine both the more extreme ends of the Hard Rock / Doom spectrum with the more catchy elements of the genre, meaning that everyone, from the hardcore Stoners to the straight up rockers, is catered for with their music.

BEAST performed well, and their riffs sound really thick in this tiny venue. Instrumental bands can often be a bit hit and miss; either they are really great, or they are completely crap. Luckily, BEAST fell quite soundly into the former category. They can deliver the "wall of sound" style playing just as well as they can dish out infectious melodies when the atmosphere calls for it.

By this time, fatigue has begun to set in among many of the punters, and so the majority nip downstairs for a pint and a quick cig break. But just as some are just lighting their first Superking, an eerie sound starts to filter down into the bar and onto the street below. It's harsher, it's incredibly distorted, and it's darker than even the doomiest bands on the bill today. It sounds like ELECTRIC WIZARD in a particularly bad mood. It's KI, who have begun to utterly decimate those assembled before them with some crushing psychedelic Doom. KI are another one of those bands that perform crushing instrumental music with aplomb, and they don't miss a beat throughout their whole two song set. KI walk off the stage to polite applause, however; everyone's too awestruck by the spectacle they've just witnessed to respond in any other way.

WIDOWS prove to be one of the most energetic and enjoyable bands of the whole day. They get perhaps the best crowd response too, with many down the front writhing, moshing, and generally gesticulating along throughout their set. The set ends with singer Adam Joliffe being hoisted up onto someone's shoulders and carried around the crowd. They are going to prove to be very hard to top.

In light of the high saturation of great bands playing this event, headliner's ALUNAH appear to have a great task ahead of them winning over the crowd and getting them moving one last time. And they certainly succeed at this. Their crushing Stoner Doom goes down incredibly well with everyone, and although they don't exactly get any mosh-pits or crowd surfers, the heads of all assembled are swinging pendulously in unison, like some kind of drunken metronome. Their set is made up by quite a lot of new tracks, although songs like "Call of Avernus", "Belial's Fjord" and "White Hoarhound" are there to sate the needs of their fans.

1. Bricket Wood Coven
2. Dementer's Grief
3. Call of Avernus
4. The Scourge and the Kiss
5. The Heavy Bough
6. White Hoarhound
7. Belila's Fjord

These sort of all day festivals are great for fans and bands alike, and in venues like the Star and Garter these types of events are even more amazing. I'd be more than happy to watch any of the bands on this bill again, and I hope that the opportunity to do so comes by very soon. Every band, from the headliners right down to the opening band, appear to be on the rise, so catch them if you can at a venue near you.

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