YOB, Pallbearer, Automaton  // Kyttaro Club, Athens, Greece // 10.10.2014

If you live in Greece and you can’t afford a trip to the Netherlands to attend Roadburn Festival, that’s alright because Smoke The Fuzz Gigs tend to your needs, bringing Roadburn to your doorstep, piece by piece. I mean look at this line up, for God’s sakes. This concert was responsible for a great commotion amongst the ranks of doom and stoner fans and all that remained to be seen was if it lived up to the hype. Spoiler alert, it did.

Before we get to the main courses of the night though, the show was started by the best support band possible, Automaton. To me at least, these guys are the next big thing Greece has to offer and once again they were shocking. A jaw-dropping performance that mixed the power of PALLBEARER (19)Sleep’s riffs with the ambient/psychedelic – drone hallucinations of Earth and on top of everything, the voice of Dimitris Zisis that made the walls bleed. This guy has one of the most captivating, epic, brutal vocal skills I’ve ever heard, and when these skills are used to coat such a majestic, trippy, sonic landscape the outcome can only be super rewarding to the listener. The fact that I was almost as anxious to see them as the two headliners of the evening says a lot, I think.

After a sort break, it was time for the hour of judgment. I could not believe that I was going to see Pallbearer live in Greece (a band that really means a lot to me), but there they were upon the stage in flesh and blood, or rather in amps and instruments. My vocabulary falls a bit short when it comes to describing what happened during their performance. More than an hour of majestic grief, a doom triumph, an absolution, a funeral and a celebration altogether, these are words that I feel can barely describe the feelings, the atmosphere and the energy their show produced.

They opened up with “The ghost I used to be” and then continued with “Devoid of Redemption” (the riffs, the sound and their on stage appearance on the last 3 minutes of this song are just inhuman, the absolute portrayal of madness and despair one denied of redemption may suffer, the sonic recreation of his world collapsing around him) and “Worlds apart”, rendering us breathless and trying to cope with this destructive epitaph. “Foundations” came after this barrage of epicness to sooth the atmosphere a bit, but Pallbearer are bad, bad people, because they left for the end the magnum opus called “Foreigner”. Whoever’s felt this song deep inside their souls knows that I don’t even need to describe what it means to hear those notes, these already legendary vocal lines and poetically heartbreaking lyrics live. A perfect performance on the perfect doom song that gets etched inside your mind and you talk about it in years to come. They returned to put the last nail on our coffin with an encore, which I think was “An offering of grief”. A 6 years old band that already performs on stage as if they were legends of this scene; a truly unforgettable performance.

Last but not least, the mighty YOB. When a band kicks in with “Ball of molten lead” you know there is only one word to describe the rest of the show; destruction. The sound was simply terrifying, an adjective that also matches perfectly Mike Scheidt’s demonic hoarse/brutal vocals. Every time they took a break from their psychedelic sludge typhoon to play a melodic part with MikeYOB (9) preaching his dark lyrics with that cursed throat, the crowd would automatically shut up and watch entranced. When it comes to the hardcore part of their appearance (you know, the one with the guitar barely destroying the speakers and the drums and bass shaking the foundations of Kyttaro, like in “The lie that is a sin”), I think I just need to mention that during the frantic outro of “Nothing to win”, there was a sound produced that closely resembled a thunder! Seriously, I mean it, there are no puns or metal clichés intended here, there was a sound like thunder or lightning coming from the three possessed people on stage that cannot be explained by the instruments used. As the hour passed not only did they not get tired by their extremely long song durations or their constant frantic movement on stage, yet they seemed to enjoy it more and shifting on to top gear.

They played 3 out 4 songs from their new killer album (the 70’s psychedelic blues guitar on “Marrow” caused outer body experiences) and then punched us surprisingly in the face with “Adrift in the ocean” that caused minor collective hysteria. Having well passed one hour and thirty minutes on stage, the crazy dudes strongly refused to get down from there so they gave out a double encore, another half hour of skull crushing fuzz paranoia. Looking closely at the faces of the attendants coming out of the venue, most of them seemed like they had returned from the battle of Normandy, tired, limping and with disbelief written all over their eyes. This was a hardcore live for the hardcore fans and I believe it will be praised for a long time to come.

Report: Axilleas Pantogios
Photos: Dimitris balabakis


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