Gig Review: PASTOR / HIGH REEPER, 16.05.2019

Blog, Gig Review

»Shiver and Shake«

Vienna’s Kramladen should on May 16th host two bands that, even if they call opposite sides of the globe their homes, are joined in spirit.

On Voodoo Magic

Seventies riffs, hard rhythms and a strong recognition value: That’s PASTOR. What do you immediately notice? A heavy portion of Black Sabbath. But how could that be any different, given that PASTOR introduce themselves as a group influenced greatly by »your dad’s record collection – if he was actively listening from 1968 to 1978«. The band moves around proto metal, heavy and psych rock.

The four-piece, consisting of Arik (vocals, guitar), Shardik (guitar), Georg (bass) and Alex (drums) hits the full venue’s stage at 9.15 p.m. with just as much energy as they would leave again an hour later. What’s striking about PASTOR shows is that the audience is really hitting it off every time. This seems to be a given constant.

In the course of their set, PASTOR perform, among others, the songs »Voodoo«,
»Moving On« and »Evoke« – the title track of the album released in August 2015. It was recorded within five days and without a click track, »because let’s be honest, life won’t play to a steady beat either«. It’s exactly this roughness that’s also to be found in Arik’s voice that marks PASTOR. Roughness, in that sense, doesn’t mean amateurishness – the band members do not only play their instruments professionally, they also have a sense for musical dynamics.

This becomes clear when, for example, the vocals shift from punchy-croaky to melodious-smooth passages without drifting into disharmony. Or, when the music turns into a waterfall – with a steady upbuild at first, acceleration, escalation and ultimate swansong, like in »Chaos Age Rising«. Or also with regard to the band’s impressive rhythm section: Drummer Alex knows exactly when enough is enough, and won’t even take it that far, while bassist Georg won’t lose his elegance even during the wildest of passages. He is, by the way, guitarist for Mothers of the Land, a band I strongly recommend and which you can read more on here.

No, not everything is perfect about PASTOR. Sometimes they miss their starts (»Sorry, fucked that up!«) and some parts lose effect due to excessive repetition. But being perfect is obviously not something the band wants to achieve. At the end of the day, PASTOR parties just as hard as their audience, who, at the end of the show, stamp the floor demanding an encore.

On the Grim Reaper

An hour after PASTOR started their set, the US-American group HIGH REEPER from Philadelphia marches onto the stage. »It’s our first time here…this
fucking rocks!«, is how singer Zach Thomas greets the crowd. Compared to the previous band, these lads definitely have a more defined sound. According to their own statement, they make stoner rock and doom metal and, to me, sound a fair bit more modern. This is not a judgement, just an observation. The combination of both bands in one night, however, feels very coherent.

Shane Trimble is strong on bass, the vocals serve a whole lot of techniques, the band is wholly present on stage and has lively gesticulation. Justin Di Pinto’s snare drum sounds crisp, and the alteration of various tempi works well, even though HIGH REEPER are touring »for 31 fucking days« and starting to feel »delusional«. The only thing that feels a bit dry is that the band repeatedly uses the same »spooky« interval  – the tritone. Thematically this sure makes sense, but on the long run it does get a little tiring.

Maybe the crowd seems restrained to the lads. Guitarists Andrew Price and Pat Daly are probably just thinking »tough crowd« while they’re playing – even, if they’d never let you notice. But after some time, the arguably non-representative sample of Vienna’s underground members that have gathered here tonight warms up. There’s even some members of Liquid Earth around, a band on which you can read more here. Latest at song number 8, »Reeper Deadly Reeper«, it’s clear for somebody from the crowd that »you’re fucking gods!« Still, some people grab their jackets and leave before the show is over. Is that because it’s a Thursday? Possibly. But the frontman thanks the audience accordingly for it: »You don’t know how much this means to us, 5.000 miles away from home, on a Thursday night, and this happens!«

The new album »Higher Reeper,« however, was released this March on Heavy Psych Sounds Records. Checking it out is a good idea, because after all: »We wanna see you headbang, Vienna!«

Author: Robin Frank

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Gig Review: Thulsa Doom / Spidergawd, 22.03.2019

Blog, Gig Review


On Friday, March 22nd, the Arena Wien hosted two Norwegian rock bands. In the course of about two hours, they served the audience a wholesome brew of rock, hard rock, blues and heavy metal.

I don’t know in how far Norwegians value punctuality – the gig, however, started an hour later than was announced. This should turn out as rather clever, though: the visitors arrive only sluggishly. But the moment Thulsa Doom start their first song, the hall fills abruptly. It doesn’t get full – for that the Norwegians probably aren’t famous enough – but there is a decent number of people. Just enough to still be able to move about freely, have a good view onto the stage and get your drinks quickly.

»See me rollin’«

Thulsa Doom is a five-piece that might confuse a little upon first sight. Here, the young (Fast Winston Doom a.k.a. Halvor Winsnes barefoot on drums) meets the fairly old (Doom Perignon a.k.a. Henning Solvang on guitar and Angelov Doom a.k.a. Egil Hegerberg on bass), and in between there’s the middle-aged section (El Doom a.k.a. Ole Petter Andreassen on guitar and Papa Doom a.k.a. Jacob Krogvold on vocals). How does that go together? Well, it just does! After all, the line up hasn’t changed since 2003. Since 2001, four studio albums have been released, the youngest (»A Keen Eye for the Obvious«) in February 2018. From that one, the band plays quite a few during their one hour set, including »Eloquent Profanity« and the very impressive »Lady Nina« – greetings from Thin Lizzy included.  

It shall be emphasised that the band does have a lot of stage experience and knows how to include the audience successfully. It seems to be one of Thulsa Doom’s desires to manifest themselves in their spectators‘ memories with their show. The singer achieves this in the last third of the set, when he jumps off the stange and wanders through the crowd while he keeps singing. He actually rips this off for two whole songs, looking the visitors in the eye, circulating the audience with his immensely long microphone cable until he ultimately joins the light technician at his desk before heading back to the stage.

Thulsa Doom are indeed a valuable recommendation for everybody who is longing for rock with some substance these days, yet doesn’t sound dusty. And even if bassist Angelov Doom explains to the crowd (in German): »We have none understanding from German…please can you help me? I have to go to the railway station. What are we doing here? We don’t know anyone!« it becomes clear pretty quickly that the played music is able to overcome such borders impressively.

Keith Moon reincarnated?

After this tasty first half of tonight’s line up, Spidergawd march onto the stage at 10 p.m. sharp. Interesting is how the instruments are set up: the drumset is equipped far above average and forms the heart of the stage with its central position in the front. Obviously, this band wants the attention to be paid to their drummer. This will soon turn out to be a decision never to be questioned again. Even if it’s a cheeky claim: Kenneth Kapstad may well be one of the best drummers out there at the moment. I, in any case, can’t remember the last time I was this impressed by one. I was as well impressed by the other band member Per Borten (guitar), Hallvard Gaardløs (bass), Rolf Martin Snustad (baritone saxophone) and the newest member on guitar, whose name was unfortunately not understandable and can’t be found anywhere.

What’s special about Spidergawd is, for one, the attractive mixture of heavy metal, hard and blues rock; secondly, the strong presence of drums and saxophone, and thirdly the fact that all four members around rhythm machine Kapstad are really talented singers. The band in fact enjoys to showcase this: The lead vocals switch with almost every new song, the other three complete the sound with their backing vocals. How often do you see a rock five-piece out of which four members cannot only decently sing, but even show this in alteration? It was definitely a first for me.

Spidergawd play their set, consisting of songs from all their albums »I« to »V«, loudly and energetically, yet elegantly. Towards the end, one fan audibly asks for one of the crowds‘ favourites »Is This Love…?,« which visibly delights the musicians. Borten, however, reverently asks for permission to play a number of other songs before that. The fan shan’t be disappointed, though: For the encore, the guitarist remembers his promise: »Right, we need to play the song for this guy« he says before starting to play the one song that Borten has written for his »wifey who you can meet at the merch stand.« It is also the one song where the musician reveals more vocal facettes than before. But that’s exactly where the show ends, unfortunately.

Author: Robin Frank

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Thulsa Doom