Corrosion of Conformity – Orange Goblin – Fireball Ministry – Black Moth: Live at The Engine Rooms, Southampton

Leeds’ very own Black Moth began the evening with a rather truncated set of quality Stoner Metal. They didn’t have that much time, and yet the set was both thunderous and compelling, even if there wasn’t much of it, as lead singer Harriet Bevan noted with some annoyance before their last song. The end result was like having a nice slice of rich, dark chocolate fudge cake only to have it cruelly snatched away mid-munch by evil scheduling goblins. It was all too good for such a brief opening set.

Next up was Californian crew Fireball Ministry, bassist Helen Storer standing in for Scott Reeder, post-hand surgery. “Southampton, it’s been ten years!” growls lead man James A. Rota II (well, it is Southampton…) in the midst of a focused and spirited set. The band certainly knows how to hit the groove and keep hitting it, with some tight and effective beats care of drummer John Oreshnick. But you couldn’t shake the feeling that the band was pulling its punches in deference to the two acts that followed. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

And then, in a thick soup of glaring lights and smoke, Orange Goblin materialised and blasted the venue flat with a rough-as-fuck supernova. “I wanna see chaos! I wanna see turmoil!” roars Viking monster and occasional lead singer Ben Ward. And lo, he gets it with the first mosh pit of the night and a wall of death for good measure. One gig goer with curiously fluffy hair freaks out like a storm cloud with rabies. Ward takes a sip out of a beer, throws it at a punter, the punter catches it. Not a drop is spilled. Two other audience members drop their beer – Ward commands the audience to boo. It boos.

Throughout, a crushing set ensues, without mercy, like a wild, dirty, temper tantrum. The crowd goes insane. This is a proper rock ‘n roll experience. But as the band staggers off, you have the horrible feeling Corrosion of Conformity are going to have a problem on its hands, keeping up with that.

Which is a problem, because that final set seems anticlimactic by comparison. Oh, there are grooves, massive grooves, big meaty fuck off grooves that half bludgeon and half tear with their power. But it all seemed restrained, certainly reasonable but not dazzling, not at all like the full-on stoner rock Bacchanalia we’ve just been served up.

The ugly truth of the matter was that this is the first date of a long tour. At such a pace, Orange Goblin risked burning itself out while Corrosion of Conformity, the monged-out tortoise to OG’s boozy, rampant hare, looked like it was slowly picking up momentum.

But not tonight. CoC’s gig was a warm up while OG played their spines out. You can grasp the marathon runner logic here, but oh how dull a marathon is in comparison to a crazed sprint!

ALEXANDER HAY