It’s been five years since EyeHateGod’s last Glasgow show and a lot has happened within the band since then: their founding drummer Joey LaCaze died shortly after that 2013 EU tour; the band recorded their excellent long-awaited return with EyeHateGod in 2014; then singer Mike IX Williams took some time out due to serious health issues, followed by surgery. Now in 2018, EHG are back, with a renewed vigour and drive, as the progenitors of the NOLA sludge scene, are celebrating 30 years of abuse (and still being broke) and have now been on the road for what seems like the best part of six months.
With only one other band on the bill, and doors at 18:30(?!) I managed to get down with time to spare to see Edinburgh’s DVNE. I was really pleased when it was announced that DVNE (pronounced ‘dune’, not ‘divine’ as some think) scored the touring support slot on the UK dates. The four-piece prog-doom band have been hard at it for a while now and are starting to receive (fully-deserved) high praise from many quarters for their 2017 album Asheran.
They’re building a great reputation as a formidable live act as well. I’ve seen them a handful of times now, they’ve always impressed me live, and tonight they were at their best, flying through an absolutely blistering set focussed on the Mastodonian Asheran. On yet another uncharacteristically hot Glasgow evening, Audio was stiflingly clammy so as the mellow segue music from Asheran filled the short gaps between songs the guys caught their breath and wiped sweat from their gear. On occasion, vocalist/guitarist Victor Vicart used these pauses to switch between his 9-string and 6-string guitars. During the likes of “Thirst” Victor’s vocals and guitar parts acted as lighter, emotive counters to Dudley Tait’s growled hollers and chunkier riffs. All the while Dan Barter’s swift fills and Allan Paterson’s rolling basslines kept the songs driving forward. The local(ish) boys done great!
EyeHateGod may have bounced back with a renewed vigour following the last couple of years of strife, but it took them a few songs (and a few drinks) to get into gear in Glasgow. Walking unceremoniously onto the stage to a few cheers there was a brief moment where each band member seemed to be looking to another to start proceedings before Jimmy Bower’s feedback-drenched guitar squealed the opening to “Lack Of Almost Everything”. Once EyeHateGod did hit their stride though, the foursome (EHG are currently touring as a quartet due to guitarist Brian Patton staying at home with his young family) were on fine form and looked to be enjoying themselves as much as the crowd were enjoying their packed set.
Playing a large selection of tracks spanning their 30 years, the show was a crowd-pleasing run-through of their Southern sludge ‘hits’ that lasted nearly 90 minutes, which is not bad going considering the slow start and given the heat in Audio. The older tracks, such as “Blank”, “Sister Fucker” and “White Neighbour” (yes, not the original title but what the band referred to it as before playing it) haven’t lost any of their bile or bite, and the more recent songs (“Agitation! Propaganda!”, “Medicine Noose”) from their 2014 self-titled album all went down a treat. I wasn’t sure at first but all of the tracks suited this slightly stripped-back, single guitar take. They might not sound quite as big without Patton’s lead, but that has never been what EyeHateGod are about. As long as Mike IX Williams can spew forth his seething, tortured vocals over Jimmy Bower’s and the rhythm section’s blend punk noise, Southern blues and thick doom, then they’ll be just fine.
By the end of the set, with the usual handful of punters chanting for more, Mike, who genuinely looked game for playing longer, and Jimmy seemed to be discussing whether to play another tune whilst bassist Gary Mader and drummer Aaron Hill were already beginning to unplug and pack up. So that was that then – a quick ‘Thank you, Glasgow. You really are the best.’, etc from Mike (who is one of very few North American band members that pronounces Glasgow properly…) – close to an hour and half of the scene veterans showing us exactly why they’re still at it after all these years.