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

Read the German version of this article on

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