London Camden Underworld
Live review originaly published in Classic Rock presents…Prog
Where the hell were you?
This was one of those once in a lifetime shows, one where people will boast in decades to come that they were there. Yet the Underworld was – criminally – half empty. It was a night when the primal magickal forces of the universe aligned in such a way that the six unidentified Dutch greasers onstage became more than some mere rock and roll band; they became alchemical avatars of the great dark cosmic beyond, their music becoming the ritual rhythm that opens the gateway to mind melting forbidden knowledge, revealing the long hidden secrets of the multiverse and ushering the Great Old Ones through the dimensional portal to wreak joyous chaos upon the mortals of the Earth.
And you fucking went and missed it.
First thing: forget anything you may already have heard by The Devil’s Blood including their debut album The Time Of No Time Evermore. You have got to see them live. The recorded output is as a cameraphone picture of Bosch’s Garden Of Earthly Delights to the real thing. If you are in the room with them, though, you can partake in that contact high that you get from the ritual that they enact.
Incense and candles burn on the speakers and the band emerge drenched in blood (or, at least, red dye of some description). They look like a bike gang from some great lost early 70s occult psyche-horror Hammer flick. Fronted by the imposing and enigmatic F. The Mouth of Satan, she stands like the high priestess, absolutely still when not singing as though the spirit of Hecate is bubbling up from the earth to recharge her. Often lazily compared with other female fronted psychedelic bands from Jefferson Airplane to Amon Duul II, the antecedents of this band are really the dark acid mania of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators and some necrotic black metal bands too extreme and obscure to register.
For 90 minutes they hold everyone in a hypnotic rapture. They have an almost telepathic bond with each other, sparking off against one another as they launch into some intense and extremely heavy improvisations. They never quite roll off into the realms of space rock. It’s like a heavier manifestation of classic West Coast acid rock, sort of like The Grateful Dead or Quicksilver Messenger Service covering early Sabbath.
The songs from the album and the now much sought after demos, single and EP are merely the jumping off point for their ritual. They end on an apocalyptic note, guitars propped against amps, feedback droning and fading as they melt away without an encore or any facile communications with the audience
They’re a band you could easily laugh at. Of course we can see how ridiculous the whole Hail Satan schtick is.
But we can also see how magnificent and awe inspiring they can be.
Don’t ever bloody dare to miss them again.