It’s just gone seven o’clock on a cold and damp October eve- the second night in a run of six gigs in five nights for your PM Belfast team, and we have been joined by a healthy turnout of our fellow metallians for the debut appearance here of Wisconsin psyche-doom goddess Jex Thoth, in the appropriately intimate surroundings of the historic Pavilion in the south of the city. Yes, it’s the middle of the week – a time when many gigs struggle to attract audiences – but tonight is most definitely the exception to the rule… even if it does not initially seem so, as openers Nomadic Rituals take to the stage to no more than a sprinkling of fans in front of the tiny stage.
The trio’s dark, droning doomscapes, punctuated by DM-style growls, are delivered with a dense groove built on Craig’s deep throaty bass roars. Their elongated instrumental passages are interspersed with moments of intense blackened deathly hallows in a performance which it tight and vibrant, and sets the scene for the rest of the evening nigh on perfectly.
From Nothing / Expansion / Far From The Sun / The Walter (working title)
Around a year after changing their entire rhythm section, Baleful Creed‘s Sabbath-esque groove is tighter than ever, as evinced on a particularly acerbic ‘Autumn Leaves’ (an appropriate set choice given the looming weatherfront outside the venue’s blacked-out windows) and a darkly atmospheric ‘Thorazine’. The quartet dedicated the second half of the set to unveiling three new songs – the first new tunes from the “new” line up. Of these, the highlight is ‘Walking Wounded’, which has an epic, sweeping yet darkly mystical feel to it, with multiple melodies piling on top of each other, and a seering solo from John Allen.
Hex / Autumn Leaves / Thorazine / Memento Mori / Walking Wound / God’s Fear
The first thing that strikes you about Jex Thoth is the darkly ritualistic nature of her show, right down to the incense streaming from her fingertips, the black candles scattered around the stage and her repeated prostration on same. However, it is quickly clear that the frontwoman is playing at creating a faux Wiccan image (her first mistake is actually blowing one of the candles out, thus dispersing any magic she may have been seeking to conjure), and her show(wo)manship is no more a Hammer interpretation of the ritualism involved .
But, none of that really detracts from the musicianship and the overall impact of the performance. Almost immediately, Thoth captivates the gathered faithful with her mystical patterns of sound and ethereal vocals which generate as much by what they leave out as what they include. Musically, the sound is suitably gloomy, steeped in the traditional doom mien, with the rhythms dense and forbidding, the riffs melancholic and the harmonies organic.
Thoth herself is lost in the rapture of each and every moment, her eerie vocals strangely reminiscent of Joplin in their raw passion. Apart from the odd smile, there is no interaction with the audience, but that is not needed, and actually adds to the drama of the performance, as the frontwoman entrances with her carefully choreographed stage show.
Kagemni / The Divide / Separated At Birth / The Watchers / Raven Nor The Spirit / Into A Sleep / And The River Ran Dry / Keep Your Weeds / Ehjä / Son Of Yule / Nothing Left To Die
- Photographs by The Dark Queen. All content © PlanetMosh 2015.