Vodun/Ten Foot Wizard/Shot Down Zed – Coventry, The Pheonix - 12 April 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Rich Hobson   
Monday, 08 May 2017 05:00

As one of the modern metal scene’s more theatrically inclined bands, it feels strange to be travelling to a trendy (albeit fairly impressive) pub/club in Coventry to see the mighty Vodun live. And yet, here we are, driving to Birmingham’s sister city and brimming with excitement after listening to the band’s debut album Possession for the 508th time in the 12 months since its release. Part-doom, part-stoner, with a dash of psychedelia and a thrash metal backbeat, it’s safe to say that there ain’t many bands like Vodun in the world right now. All the more reason to catch them live, then.

 

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But first, the supports. Tonight kicks off with local rockers Shot Down Zed, a grease-guzzling riff-slinging beast who know just how to get the ears tingling. Big, brash and loud, this band are spawned in the image of predecessors like Motorhead, playing with plenty of passion and heart. Shot Down Zed like it loud and, as a persistent high pitched tingle tells me, so do I. Still at very early days in their career, the band are rough around the edges but blessed with enough passion to make them endearing and exciting act to watch.

 

www.facebook.com/ShotDownZed/

 

When it comes to excitement, Ten Foot Wizard are a tour de force of unpredictable rock n roll fury. A chimera of styles and subgenres, Ten Foot Wizard thrive by being completely leftfield, changing things throughout the set so that you can never be quite sure what their core sound actually is. Throwing up the grooves of Clutch, the bombast of Royal Republic and the sheer rock n roll force of Motorhead, the band are a vital force of excitement, rock n roll at its very best.

 

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www.facebook.com/tenfootwizard/

 

While the ringleader bombast of Ten Foot Wizard vocalist Gary Harkin acts as the focal point of their set, Vodun offer a much more equalised distribution of attention. Each member is visually striking to behold as they step up to the stage, adorned in traditional style clothing that befits the band’s Vodun (or as you might better recognise it – Voodoo) inspirations, a three-headed Cerberus of theatricality that demands total attention.

 

As if that weren’t enough, the sound of The Phoenix perfectly conveys Vodun’s sound, the band sounding crystal clear as the intro track to album opener ‘Loa’s Kingdom’ gives way to the earthy, punchy blast of the track. Melding a dozen styles into one hard-hitting package, Vodun elude definition as they throw together the sonic oppressiveness of Black Sabbath, the soaring freedom of a Soundgarden riff and primal drumbeats that wouldn’t be out of place on a Sepultura record.

 

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Even with only one album’s worth of material to draw from, Vodun sound massive, their back catalogue feeling vast and expansive with its diverse selection of sounds and tones. Heavy metal, blues and psychedelia form the backbone of what Vodun do and when they do it, few could do it better. Hearing the likes of ‘Loa’s Kingdom’, ‘Possession’, ‘Minos Army’ and ‘Oya’ is already a jubilant experience, but when the band pull out surprise new songs there is a prevailing sense that the sky is the limit for what they can achieve musically.

 

Vodun’s live shows have been described as closer to a ritual than your average rock or metal gig and the transcendental beats of the music sure as hell feel like an inverted exorcism as they blast through your bones. Vocalist Oya is an evocative mouthpiece for the band, her soulful voice wrestling even the most powerful riff for absolute dominance. Oya’s voice is not fettered by stylistic trappings or genre adherence; instead it harkens back to rock n roll’s roots, when vocal expressions were felt in the bones and excitable exclamations were the order of the day.

 

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Of course, if the vocals were able to easily dominate the music Vodun wouldn’t be the band that they are and guitarist Marassa slings riffs so big and hard that only the greats could hold a candle to their power. Despite having no bass backing, Marassa creates a low-end sonic duality that creates the illusion of a full backline, alternating between pounding thrash beats and nimble psychedelic jams at the drop of a hat. Rounding out the trio is the intense beat of drummer Ogoun, a lead anchor that keeps the rest of the band firmly rooted in the earth even as they drift up to the spiritual plain. Hammering away like the most naturalised beat on the planet, Ogoun is the pounding heart of Vodun’s sound, her rhythmic pounding setting the guts rumbling throughout the set.

 

Together, the band are utterly indomitable, utterly unique in sound yet possessed of a familiar spirit that harkens back to heavy metal’s glory days of old. Utterly overpowering to see in a 350-capacity venue, Vodun’s sound is so quintessential that it feels like it would overpower the likes of Wembley Stadium or Donington Park with ease. By creating a distinctive visual and sonic brand, Vodun have established themselves as something very different to the rest of the rock and metal world, a band with a complete sensual experience not unlike Ghost or Slipknot before them. Frankly, if they can maintain this level of live intensity and burgeoning creative talent, you best believe this is a band that could conquer the metal world.

 

www.facebook.com/VODUNBAND/

 

'Possession' is out now, via New Heavy Sounds.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: All photographs © Stephen Curry/Über Rock.  View our full gallery of photpgraphs HERE.

 

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