Abominable Iron Sloth / Charger / Ghost of a Thousand

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Barfly @ The Monarch
  • 2006-10-14

First up tonight were Sloth labelmates Ghost of a Thousand. They launched headlong into a tearaway set of hard riffing and fast drumming, which had a more raucous, punky edge than the other bands on the bill. Their singer had a free run of the entire room, as he hurtled off the stage, where he half-hugged, and half-collapsed onto people, before crawling back onto the stage through the guitarist’s legs, (one of which was obligingly perched atop a monitor), then rounding off matters by hanging from, and then jumping off the lighting rig.

…a song about child-abuse

Charger made a welcome return, after a year away from the live circuit. Their frontman, despite wearing the facial expression of someone about to vomit for much of the gig, radiated an amiable cockney warmth, making it hard to dislike the band. After thew crowd smiled and applauded one song, he returned “The joke’s on you — we just cracked out a song about child-abuse.”

Their songs were well balanced between frantically bashing out hardcore passages, and sitting back into slower, griding parts. The sound quality was spot-on, which showed through most noticeably in the drumming, where the crispness of the tone emphasised the tightness of the playing.

When AIS came on, I was expecting a 5-piece to appear; only three people walked onto the stage, but if I’d had my eyes closed, I’d have been forgiven for thinking it was ten. Again, the sound quality was impeccable: the bass drum and toms were as well-defined as most bands’ snare drums; their snare cracked like a bull-whipped ping-pong ball. No matter how deep the bass sank, or how dirty the riff, it was always possible to distinguish every last semitone. The drumming was assured and solid; an occasional burst of speed reminded the listener that the rest was understated, not simplistic.

…they gave the impression that concealed behind the stage were the gates of Hell

The double vocals of Justin (guitar) and Matt (bass) were the jewel in the crown of their sound. Their voices were well matched — I’ve often heard bands, like Sikth, where the contrast in a dual vocal line makes for some interesting arrangements, but rarely where the beauty lies in the singers’ similarity. Both had wide ranges from throaty growls up to a high roar. Sometimes they took it in turns, bouncing lines off each other; other times they overlapped. Best of all was when they sang the same word, on the same note, in the same roar; when this oral powerhouse combined with the driving guitars, and the rolling, grinding bass, they gave the impression that concealed behind the stage were the gates of Hell, and that a whirlwind cloud of bees was pouring out of the mouth of some unseen beast lurking inside. After having played together for such a short time, their creative ability to use their few members to such powerful effect left me eagerly awaiting the next direction taken by the mighty Sloth.

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