Blimey. Earls Of Mars, when you see them for the first time, will probably engender that sort of reaction (ok probably a lot stronger but we try and keep it clean at RTM). They are, we suspect, the type of band that will provoke a strong feeling one way or the other.
Frontman Harry Armstrong it transpires sang on tonights headliners “The Big Black” album – later joining them onstage – and is an old friend of the band. He stands stage front, bashing away on a keyboard, while someone else plays the double bass, while prog riffs wail over the top. RTM loves them and by the time they finish “The Mirrored Staircase” we are very much in the blimey-in-a-good-way camp.
Despite the name, Sir Admiral Cloudsley Shovel, are a more straightforward affair. Signed to the mark of stoner rock quality that is Rise Above, theirs is a twin guitar, galloping bass sound of proper classic 1970s heavy metal.
Frontman Johnny Gorilla deadpans to the crowd: “You might have heard of us, but you probably haven’t.” However, their astonishingly good “Don’t Hear It….Fear It” record should change that. “Red Admiral Black Sunrise” is multi-riffed freak out, while their cover of the Groundhogs “Bulletproof” showcases a blusier side. Goblin front man Ben Ward joins them for set closer “Thicker The Better. “ Daft name they might have, but these Admiral’s are set fair – and any band with a song called “Scratching And Sniffing” is ok with us.
Over the last few months Orange Goblin have thrust themselves into the limelight as one of the finest bands in Britain. No longer the cult preserve of a few beardy fellas who like massive riffs, they released the absolutely magnificent “A Eulogy For The Damned” album in 2012 (it won the RTM best album of the year poll) while their live shows just get better and better – as they showed when touring with down last Autumn. Happily the gig going public of Great Britain are catching on and despite this being in the middle of a mammoth UK tour, the Slade Rooms is approaching full.
Even better, the crowd is treated to a show that will surely rank as one of the best of the year. Beginning with “Scorpionica” and continuing with the “Filthy And The Few,” Goblin in those two songs showcase all that makes them quite so marvelous. The riffs are huge but catchy and man mountain singer Ward delivers the songs with such conviction that you cannot help but get carried along.
Whilst there are plenty of songs from “…Damned” the band uses the occasion to dust off some old stuff too. The pick of these, perhaps, is a trip back to the first album (16 years old, where does the time go!?) for “Saruman’s Wish” which sounds re-invigorated tonight.
Guitarist Joe Hoare stands stage left casually and effortlessly knocking out the riffs, perhaps at his best during “Cosmo Bozo.” The main set ends with “Harvest Of Souls” and “Quincy The Pigboy” before “Blue Snow” and “Eulogy’s” glorious opener “Red Tide Rising” bids us farewell.
This winter tour apparently is not the last activity from Goblin in 2013 – and the band have already played with Clutch this year – with Ward promising to see us again the autumn. Whether that heralds new material too is unclear (there is a live album slated) but that matters little, because on this form Orange Goblin are simply unstoppable.