Graveyard + Horisont & Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
Camden Underworld, London 22nd March 2012
It’s retro rock time at the Camden Underworld as denim and leather swamp the subterranean venue for some uncomplicated ‘70s metal style thrills.
“You guys at the front might want to stand back,” intones Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell frontman Johnny Gorilla, “Because the last time we played this song the Devil appeared”. Despite such comical stage patter and antics the band actually look like they’re playing for their lives in front of the large Underworld crowd. Tracks like ‘Red Admiral Black Sunrise’ showcase their straightforward yet hugely compelling take on the proto-metal sounds of the early ‘70s. OK – so perhaps they play one self-indulgent guitar solo too many but no one in the venue seems to think this is an issue.
Horisont have diverged from their original Deep Purple/Mountain style hard boogie workouts to progress to rock that sounds more like Uli Jon Roth-era Scorpions but still retains some of the doom-laden quality of their earlier material. Live they’re even more headbanging than on record with dynamic dual-lead guitar lines suggesting an appreciation of NWOBHM and proto-power metal acts. Where you stand on this development in their sound depends on your appreciation of the raw juvenile elements of heavy metal music. Personally, I love it. To the outsider it might appear strange to see these five young Swedes on stage looking like Status Quo roadies and sounding terminally unfashionable but in rock music you sometimes have to suspend disbelief and just nod your head to the mighty songs and riffs – and those songs and riffs are utterly sensational.
Headliners, Graveyard have an altogether more serious take on retro music, playing a blend of Zeppelin/Sabbath hard rock that’s taking them out of the underground and rapidly towards mainstream success. Playing the pick of their material from their two albums, including killer versions of ‘The Siren’ and ‘Blue Soul’, the band alternate between sinister slow numbers and all-out pulverizing rockers. The outbreak of moshing and crowd-surfing in the eager Camden crowd just serves to prove that this band is the real deal.