Back in June a tour was announced that was like no other. Four bands that together wet the collective appetite of all stoner rock, sludge and doom fans alike. North Carolina titans Corrosion of Conformity would be hitting the UK for a run of dates, but along with them come their British compatriots Orange Goblin. The two alone are enough to get even the most ardent fan a little moist. But on top of that Californians Fireball Ministry are on the bill, making a rare UK appearance, and so too are British northern stalwarts Black Moth. All in all this behemoth promised to be the tour of the year!
A little under five months after that announcement and the tour has arrived in Birmingham on the second of eight UK dates. Excitement levels are palpable as the queue of fans weaves around the block to get in.
Black Moth open the show and you have to feel sorry for them, with a strict curfew tonight they are on stage just ten minutes after doors open and most fans are still waiting patiently outside trying to get in. The heaviest sound of the four bands tonight, although its a close call, Harriet's vocals pierce through doom laden, dark and heavy riffs. The bass and drums throb in unison, the beat soothing your soul in a way only doom can. Majestic.
Californian's Fireball Ministry are somewhat different, adding a lighter edge to proceedings with their blues stoner rock tones. They play the UK all too infrequently and this tour gives us the opportunity to soak them up. Emily Burton's fret board wizardry keeps us enthralled whilst James A Rota II's vocals offer a gritty yet harmonic feel to the overall sound. The room may not be 100% full yet as its still early doors, but those who were in witnessed a treat!
Orange Goblin are the UK's finest stoner rock act, they've gone through their trials and tribulations over the years yet seem to only go from strength to strength. Off the back of their latest album, The Wolf Bites Back, they are now in full tour mode and this run will no doubt bolster support for their new record.
They've been playing their new song 'Sons of Salem' live for a while, before its release on record, and its a strong opener returning to that traditional Orange Goblin heavy groove. Classic number 'Quincy The Pigboy' follows swiftly on mixing the old with the new with aplomb. Under Ben Wards towering command the Goblin's ship sails for an hour with a career spanning set. 'Made of Rats' included to please the most ardent of fans, but its tail end of the set that brings with it familiarity. 'The Devil's Whip', the horror infused anthemic 'They Come Back' and 'Red Tide Rising' closing the set in familiar fashion.
For a full hour the band entertained us and if we are truly honest, stole the show from under the headliners nose. The band's status continues to grow and this tour will do them the world of good.
Thanks to the venues strict curfew, headliners Corrosion of Conformity get a shortened hour long set to close out the show and they are straight to business with 'Seven Days' from Deliverance swiftly followed by 'The Luddite' from new album No Cross No Crown. Its a heavy start, dark and menacing tones emanate from the guitars of Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan as the vocal girth springs forth.
Their set mixes varied tracks from the "Pepper Kennan" era of the band, Blind, Deliverance, Wiseblood and America's Volume Dealer all represented in amongst further new tunes 'Forgive Me' and 'Wolf Named Crow'.
As the set moves on the pace increases, the angst driven 'Vote With A Bullet' a classic hit that gets the blood, fists and heads pumping. 'Albatross' similarly a fan favourite continues as time is running low. Pepper looks at his watch and declares "We've got time for one more". It is none other than 'Clean My Wound's, a song that helped break them through to the British metal consciousness during their performance at Donington in 1995. Still as fresh today as it ever was a wonderful way to round out the best tour of the year so far.