Pagan Altar, Hooded Priest and more at OJC Kompas (2009)

OJC Kompas (Sint Niklaas, Belgium)

Pagan Altar, Hooded Priest, Sardonis
It would have taken me quite more time to find the concert place inside the […]
By Erika Wallberg
May 23, 2009

It would have taken me quite more time to find the concert place inside the venue if I hadn't seen other people sneaking in throught a home built door that looked more like a hiding place rather than the entrance to the venue. Else, the club was really nice. Or very shabby, worn down and smelled like it's been some really sweaty nights there.

Of course, it is true to play no matter what, to never let anything stop you but 2 people in a band. There's something missing then. Drums and guitars aren't enough. Sure, it can be cool and work for a while but you need to be extremely good to pull it off for more than a few songs. Without the bass the guitar playing needs to be very colorful and creative to work. I don't think SARDONIS managed that, but it was fairly interesting anyway. The songs absolutely had potential to be something really cool. Their music was perhaps more towards Stoner and Sludge than Doom. Perhaps, it was Roel's shirt that dragged my mind towards that but I doubt SARDONIS would disagree if I say MASTODON is one of their biggest influences. A little Psych but still Metal and that gnawing riffs that just sets everything swinging. I really would love to see this band again, with a full line up. Until then, I won't say much more about them.

Is HOODED PRIEST for real or is it just SPINAL TAP? I'm not sure what to think. Sometimes they seem serious but it is a little too much low budget theater for me to accept it. On the other hand, I suppose the show should have been a lot more studied and pushed to the limit if it only was a gimmick. And then again, if it's all for fun... Come on, then HOODED PRIEST really needs to shape things up, it should be fun to watch a band, especially when they're trying so hard with their outfits and image to look like something that crawled out of the dirt coming straight from the horned master. I can't say HOODED PRIEST impressed very much musically either. Their music was way too unfocused and straggling to take in. Very dark of course, but then it was a little too much Black Metal cliches combined with Doom, Heavy, Hard Rock and a huge doze of CELTIC FROST. I actually really like bands that try to create something extra and they sure as hell get a lot of extra credits from me for the contra-bass, that I never seen on stage from a Metal band before. Very cool! And even if this is for jokes or not it could have been really cool with a little more devotion from the involved.

PAGAN ALTAR really blew me away the first time I saw them and I was ready for the same treatment this time too. Unfortunately, it came to an anti-climax when Terry (Jones, vocals) microphone didn't work. That's actually really strange because the sound wasn't any problems for the first two bands. It took a while to get it sorted out but not for too long. Some minor disturbances all the way through the concert wrecked the impression some more.

PAGAN ALTAR did everything right though. It was flawless playing from Alan (Jones, guitar) as usual with an amazing backup from Diccon (Harper, bass) and Andy (Green, drums). And even if they played without Rich (Walker, guitar, his last gig was with PAGAN ALTAR at the 'Doom Shall Rise' Festival earlier this year) this time it didn't feel empty or weak at all. That is very common when you reduce to one guitar. Alan managed his guitar with grace and sure, Diccon had to work a little harder to fill everything out but that was absolutely no problem at all. Yes, sometimes it was noticeable that the second guitar was missing but on the other hand with this lighter sound the music got more dynamic and the great melodies got more space. I can't say I was as amazed this time though, but I think that had more to do with the sound rather than with the band. But the magic they created in Olso at the 'Metal Merchants Festival' was a combination of many things and when you take away one magic just doesn't happen. But it needs to be said again, PAGAN ALTAR is one of the world's most neglected bands and I really hope they will get their chance now, that they get their music out in a decent way, they truly deserve that. Better late than never, I say! And what can I say, I can't wait until I get another chance to see them, I know they'll knock me off my feet again.

(photos by pagan Erika)




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