LIVE: Stoneghost – The Garage, Islington 20.03.15

Last night (20th) was the night of Stoneghost’s upcoming album launch party, and the Bromley metalheads sure launched it with fireworks. Even as I arrived at Islington’s The Garage, just in time for the start of the gig, I could hear the beastly first sounds of New Age Of Old Ways blasting through the wide open doors of the venue. And although this was also probably the reason for the ridiculous 10pm curfew, some reading into the band’s bio told me they deserved all the attention they could get, as apparently the band members went through blood, sweat and therapy to keep their band going, and to eventually record their first LP, coming on 6th April via Mascot Label Group.

Since their founding in 2013, Stoneghost have got the attention of quite a few radio hosts and music magazines, and as it turned out, all the hype was true. The quality of their sound, their flawless riffs and percussion was far from the incoherent piles of noise you hear from regular indie metal bands; it was closer to the massive hall-filling sound of Black Sabbath, who they cite as an inspiration. Which is also partly due to their background, as in fact, before their 2013 debut as Stoneghost with their cool Ed Hardy-styled logo, the band was known as Snakebite, and behind that name they have played at festivals such as Bloodstock, in front of thousands of people.

Last night, with a new name and fresh sound, they performed in a much smaller venue, which was struggling to contain the mastodon force of their instrumentals and Jason Smith’s titanic voice, which ranged from guttural growls to hellish Judas Priest-like screaming. Still, the acoustics were good, so the only problem with the size of the venue was that the initial shock from the loudness of the soundwaves which attacked my eardrums like hammers; but once I inevitably joined the crowd in their headbanging, all notion of space, time and hearing loss were all gone.

The crowd was all you can expect from a metal gig audience – mostly composed of 6.5 foot-tal,l heavy-bearded men with long flowing hair, which I could only be jealous of; and all a lot more enthusiastic than your average hipster gang at an indie rock show. While the band themselves did not perform what is apparently their signature live trick – bashing each other onstage, which I was quite keen to see, their huge beardy fans more than made up for it by creating a few pogos that nearly caused an earthquake, and forced the more smaller-sized individuals like myself to retract a safe distance before we turn into mincemeat. In the heat of the moment, one person even tried crowdsurfing, which did not work all too well but was quite amusing to watch.

Stoneghost’s adrenaline-packed lives are definitely not for the faint-hearted. But if high-adrenaline coupled with high-quality heavy metal production is what you are after, then go check out their next gig.

Mariana Nikolova