On 1st June 2013, I spent my mid-honeymoon Saturday at Gulliver’s in Manchester, watching the gig of my life for the princely sum of a fiver. Undersmile I knew and loved; Blackburn’s Bastard of the Skies were (and still are) my favourite band; and the magnificent Ishmael were to put in their final and most intense performance later in the evening.
The second band on the bill however, West Midland trio Grimpen Mire, flattened the intimate venue with a devastating set that left me open-mouthed. The most striking element was the gnarled, gangly frontman: wringing hideous notes from his bass with vicious intent, the pain and bitterness of his roared lyrics etched across his face. I chatted with the band after their set and was struck by their collective warmth; their excitement over their forthcoming ‘split’ with their Lancastrian friends on the bill (it would eventually materialise to critical acclaim the following April) shining through. We got on so well that we agreed to share a few pints when we next met.
Sadly and suddenly, a posting to their still-maintained Facebook page last Tuesday 9th June alerted fans to the passing of that wonderful frontman, Paul van Linden; this after the seemingly reluctant decision by the band to split almost six months earlier. The thread following the announcement, full of heart-rending condolences and reminiscences, reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the modern UK Doom and Sludge scene – testament to the regard the band was held in by its peers, and to the impact the bassist / vocalist left on all he met, however fleetingly. Luminaries of the scene such Conan, Sea Bastard and the band’s fellow protagonists on that fantastic night two years ago have all posted their own tributes to their own pages.
A fifteen-minute conversation was all I ever had with Paul. Long enough to know, however, that he made a lasting impression on me. The many who met him seem to share the same opinion: a hugely talented musician, the brutal intensity of his stage presence contradicted entirely by his warmth, wit and unflinching honesty. Everyone at Ghost Cult magazine offers our sincere condolences to his wife Alex, his daughter Lizzie, and his loyal, devastated bandmates Jim Goad and Ian Davis.
Please ensure this amazing artist and his band are never forgotten by downloading their music, now available in entirety through Bandcamp.