Live Review: Gutlocker w/Stoned Soup, The Colour Blind Monks & KUST at The Lounge Bar in Alton!

It’s been raining all damn day but that shouldn’t stop you from climbing out of your grave and getting to get to a gig. After all, it’s Friday night, it’s been a long week and its time to let of some steam. Tonight’s destination is the very well run grass roots venue that is The Lounge Bar in Alton, where rumour has it that a couple of survivors from Rabidfest 2023 are taking to the stage as part of a four band line up front loaded with riffs galore…

Opening tonight’s show are the artists formerly known and Bandana who have rebranded as KUST [7/10] and have a guitarist who looks like he would be more at home at Woodstock in 1969 than anywhere else. He brings a plethora of riffs to the Kings table, ranging from Jimi Hendrix worship to Post-Grunge, a style that suits their vocalists talents perfectly. In truth most of the bands intricate melodies hark back to the style of the early 90’s despite the bands obvious youth, the freedom and confidence in their performance impressing as riffs float around the eclectic poetry of the lyrics. Their set is short and sweet with stand out “Nightmare Sequence” bringing the curtain down, a familiar bass line and an introspective lyrical narrative giving that one real impact.

Maintaining those American vibes, The Colour Blind Monks [8/10] are all long hair an Grunge vibes, their front woman Phoebe Rose capable of some belting vocals to accompany their melancholic atmospherics. Dark and brooding but with real power and grit, they have an energy that makes them stand out. The huge dirge laden riff of “Spite” is one fit for worship, so if you can imagine Patti Smith fronting Down then you might get the drift of where they’re at. What’s impressive about them is how well the collection of songs in their armoury flows together, each one having gracious tempo shifts and contrasting rhythmic textures to keep things interesting alongside the sultry vocal performances. Both “Vampire” and “Banshee” are well received and night feels like a triumph for them.

A band with a real joie de vivre about them who obviously love nothing more than playing live, Stoned Soup [9/10] take a sweet leaf out of the book of bands like Black Sabbath and Corrosion Of Conformity and give us a lethal dose of blues fuelled Stoner Metal. Their infectious live energy is what sets them apart from other genre stalwarts, the fuzzy warmth of their sound enhanced by a little tambourine and harmonica. Their socially and politically aware lyrical narratives are something they’re not given enough credit for and tonight they have a treat for us in a brand new song that discusses the growing wealth divide between the rich and poor of nation. It’s an intelligent and thought provoking number that is also a good time and bodes well for the next album, sitting well alongside cuts like “Purgatory” and “Snapdragon“, a cut they usually reserve to close bought forward for greater impact. That is done so that a tune that has carried them through the early rounds of Metal 2 The Masses in Oxford can conclude their set in “Fuzzy Brain” and we’re one hundred percent sure that given how many cans of Red Stripe guitarist Chris Gilday has put away, that’s how he will be feeling tomorrow.

You can’t talk about who’s who in the Zoo of the United Kingdom Underground Metal scene without talking about Gutlocker [10/10]. Once described as “Poundland Pantera“, there is so much more to the Woking riff beasts, a band who’s unflinching desire to play live in every bolt hole, dive bar and brick out house has served them well. They have an infectious live energy and a desire to fire with cuts like the thunderous “Sent Them All In” hitting like a police battering ram. The fists are pumping and the mosh pit rowdy from the very start of their set so by the time “Out Of Sight” lands they’re cutting through the audience like a hot knife through butter. Putty in their hands. Usually fierce and fiery, tonight there is a little bit more intensity about them, as if they’ve tightened up a screw somewhere and it’s made a surprising amount of difference. As always “Sink Or Swim” goes down a storm, a scream-a-long anthem thst kills a few brain cells before single “The Pay Off” finds Craig McBrearty flirting with clean vocals for a couple of lines before returning to his usual bark and bellow. The title track of their debut album “To Be Alive” gets an impromptu wall of death as the rhythmic gymnastics of the bombastic five string bass inflict the maximum damage before it’s sweaty hugs all round and time for some drunken debauchery. The thing about Gutlocker is that they put in the grind that has made them legends, so it’s only going to be a matter of time before they go to the next level.

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