Gig Review: Josiah / Saint Karloff / Outer Head – Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield (28th March 2024)

Outer Head (c) Matt Ekins

Folklore superstition dictates things tend to come in threes. Good luck, bad luck, celebrity deaths and all sorts of other things… In this case it’s power trios. A trio of power trios no less and this is a very good thing. These riff monsters have drawn the worshipful from as far away as Crewe to praise the riff and what better time to do it than the eve of the Easter weekend.

The first night of the joint headline Josiah/ Saint Karloff United Tour powered up at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield on Thursday night. Launching a weekend of juggernaut riffs and marking Saint Karloff’s maiden voyage to the UK.

Outer Head kicked things off with a heavy treaclely dirge that perfectly matched the steady downpour outside. Their set seemed to be a rolling, ever increasing tempo of relentless riffage with some Hawkwindy passages laced with some Middle Eastern scales. There’s not a lot of info about these guys, but they are from Leeds, released an album, Delirium, in Feb 23 and their frontman reminds me of Tom Araya. Buy their album and go see them if you get the chance. Solid.

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Saint Karloff (c) Matt Ekins

I wondered how the opening set could be followed and Saint Karloff very swiftly provided an answer… With riffs. Heavy riffs with some intricate, almost jazz like guitar work over the top, but heavy and fuzzy with a groove that would get a statue’s head nodding.

Saint Karloff hail from Norway, formed in 2015 and have a few albums under their belt, the most recent of which is from last year, Paleolithic War Crimes. For this tour they have a stand in bassman, but you wouldn’t know it – they were tight, precise and loud. They return to the UK in May for Desertfest, just a heads up…

So then I was wondering how that set could be followed and Josiah very swiftly provided an answer. With riffs! Thunderous riffs with a slight Zeppelin flavour at times, but relentlessly powerful. The rhythm section operated like an intricately crafted, seamless Japanese carpentry joint. Locked together and supporting the whole. The bassman had some serious chops and thumped the shit out of his instrument, a glorious sight to behold. Towards the end of their set we were told that they had a stand in drummer for the tour and he had only had one rehearsal! Just astounding how well they played together and what a glorious racket they made.

Josiah return to Sheffield in August for the Cosmic Vibrations Festival, so if you’re passing… or better yet plan to come for the weekend.

A good turnout of the riff faithful and a great friendly vibe in the venue. All the bands were fully appreciated, plenty of headbanging and it was entirely obvious that each band was having a great time with plenty of smiles. The level of musicianship on display was something else and each band just upped the intensity.

Big thanks to all the bands for letting me stick a camera in their faces, Josiah for agreeing to have me along, and Daniel from Cosmic Vibrations Fest for putting together a brilliant night.

Praise the riff!

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Photos by Matt Ekins

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