Since the release of their second album, Altars, Kroh have been causing quite the stir on the British doom metal scene. The change in direction switching to the haunting vocals of Oliwia Sobieszek gave the band a new dimensions, an edge many in the genre didn’t have. A string of live dates following the albums release cemented their new position on the scene, establishing them not just as another doom band but as the new forerunner of the sound.
With momentum well and truly behind them they set about writing some new material culminating in the release of their latest five track EP, Pyres. It is that release which is celebrated tonight with the EP launch event in the bands home town of Birmingham.
Opening the evening tonight are Barrabus, another band making a lot of noise on the scene and fronted by former Medula Nocte warbler Paul Catten. Suited and booted they take to the stage in dinner jackets and bow ties. These noise mongers put a smile on my face right from the off, with their outright dirty sound, growling vocals and ferocious riffs. Catten wields a walking stick throughout the set, whether he needs it or its just a prop whose to say? Gesticulating with it as and using it almost as an extension of his vocal range, not only delivering the lyrics, but literally shoving them down your throat!
I'll be honest, I'd never really listened to the band before tonight, although being familiar with the Catten back catalogue, and I absolutely loved this 40 minute set. It left me wanted so much more!
The intimate setting for this EP launch is ideal, a tiny venue packed to the rafters itching to see Kroh perform their new tracks live for the first time. The sticky carpet and dim lighting adds to the ambience as the smoke pumps out of the dry ice machine and we await, with baited breath, the bands arrival.
Four of the band take to the stage and take us through the introduction to the new release, an instrumental, Triumph of Death. Red lights shine from behind through the thick dry ice silhouetting the band through this doom laden number. Oliwia sidles onto the stage and steers us through Moriah the opening track to side B of their new EP. Dark, heavy riffs from Kenny and Harrington deliver Rigor Mortis the stand out track from side A.
Oliwia's haunting vocals just as eerie on the new material as was on Altars, Nemertean Girl the final song the band play from the new release for the evening. Twenty minutes in and the assembled masses call for more, Stone Into Flesh the first of the songs from Altars to be aired. Donovan's bass grinds low and heavy in time with Stanton's drum line building the foundations on which Kroh have built their reputation.
Malady, Feed The Brain and Living Water all from the previous release please the faithful fans who have turned out in numbers. The display tonight shows, yet again, that Kroh are on the up. Leaders in the UK Doom movement with the almost operatic vocal twist that gives them the edge over so many of the others. On tonights performance alone I urge you to check this band out, if slow and heavy as hell is what you like, you need look no further!