Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms may only be next door to their more well-known cousin Rock City but that doesn’t stop the venue having an identity quite all its own. Tonight it’s the turn of legendary gloom merchants Paradise Lost with support from Brighton’s upcoming epic doomsters King Goat whose debut Conduit set expectations sky-high for the young band. Not ones to rest on their laurels, however, they have finalising work on their sophomore effort Debt of Aeons.
I had time for a brief catch up with the band before the show, and they were clearly enthused to be sharing the stage with Paradise Lost as well as fellow support act Outshine, praising the atmosphere of the tour. The outpouring of support certainly seems to have taken them by surprise in the best possible way, admitting that whenever the album saw positive reviews such as the lauded Album of the Month and Album of the Year accolades from the respected reviewers at Angry Metal Guy, that their Bandcamp and social media traffic had skyrocketed. Whilst they were surprised, it was clearly taken in stride - grateful but also not letting it go to their heads, focusing on delivering the music they want to make to whoever wants to hear it. As we discussed the new album the band admit that the atmosphere has felt different with the backing of new label Aural Music and also their new management team at Tone MGMT. Equal praise was heaped on their PR team, Hold Tight! PR, a respected independent agency they seemed only too happy to be working with given the reception and reach of Conduit and their subsequent shows in support of it. Sadly despite a delightful chat with them, they did eventually have to leave for soundcheck, at which point I slunk off to the bar, only to be fleeced by the exorbitant price of a pint.
King Goat (9) were first up tonight and they were nothing short of breathtaking. Vocalist Trim delivered what felt like impassioned sermons from under his menacing cowl, and the band were equally crushingly heavy and mesmerising with the progressive tendencies running throughout their music. Despite the imposing presence, they’re also clearly no strangers to a sense of humour; just a couple of songs in and Trim deadpans that while their set may be short they do write rather long songs, eliciting a good chuckle from the crowd. It’s hard not to get swept up in their proggy take on epic doom as it ebbs and flows, suffusing the room. With such a strong showing despite their status as relative newcomers as a band and with just one album under their belts, clearly the only way is up for these doomsters and they certainly won a few new fans tonight.
Next up is veteran act Outshine (7) who have a tough act to follow but manage it they do; their take on doom is a rather more straightforward affair with a rock’n’roll tinge. Songs are short, punchy and 'anthemic' for the most part until they bring out the older material. These tracks are monolithic with all the weight of a blue whale, gloomy and intense. They’re a natural choice for this support slot, drawing heavily from the Paradise Lost playbook, whetting appetites for the imminent main event.
And what a main event it is - Paradise Lost (9) are on absolutely top form, not only musically but their deadpan humour, even introducing themselves as Alien Ant Farm much to the amusement of the now packed-out venue and within seconds the crowd are eating out of their hands. The set is off to a slightly rocky start due to some murky vocals but this is soon rectified and their performance is a masterclass in melancholy. Tracks culled from newer album The Plague Within tower above even more classic material, soaked with the band’s trademark intensity and gloom. Frontman Nick Holmes gleefully incites a moshpit for “Blood and Chaos”, remarking afterward that it was a “remarkably good mosphit” and that he “even [saw] some people under thirty”. His deadpan delivery only served to accentuate an already sterling performance, with the rest of the band also firing on all cylinders. The time-worn tradition of the encore was again resurrected and despite everyone knowing they weren’t done when they went off the first time, the band returning and unleashing an utterly monstrous rendition of “No Hope In Sight” just further reinforced the band’s legendary reputation, sounding soul-crushingly heavy.
The crowd had clearly been there for Paradise Lost with the venue being a sea of black t-shirts with long hair and/or long beards, bridging at least two generation gaps, speaking again to the enduring appeal of these doomsters. The venue was still remarkably busy for both support acts however, and if people hadn’t been fans of them before tonight, they certainly were after. One of the most endearing moments of the entire night also had to be a security guard stepping in to take a fan’s camera, only then to climb on the chair at the sound desk to take pictures of them and the band for them, a heartwarming sight given the reputation security can have for handing gigs. Despite the melancholy, downtrodden music on display tonight, it was an entirely positive experience and I would be lying if I said I didn’t leave with the biggest grin on my face.