Rebirth: Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead, back and louder than ever - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #140

Craig Relf of Druganaut - shake ya bones
So another night worshipping at the altar of Edinburgh’s small doom community crammed into the smaller-still sub-basement of the underground, for the meantime slipping into deeper drug-induced ennui and trading old Khanate gig stories but ready at any time to burst forth in a seething corrupting human tide in black tees with the sleeves cut off displaying tattoo’d arms and flow into Edinburgh’s ‘respectable’ streets and converge upon some poor group of fat-arse American tourists too slow to run and tear them to shreds. This evening was to celebrate the reincarnation of Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead after several months’ forced slumber under the Antarctic ice fields ready to once again rend flesh and bring their specific breed of laconic homegrown electric thunder to sub-basement we all call home, Bannerman’s bar. I was going there as a journalist, not as a fan. The Halloween ruminations of fellow doomy upstarts Atragon had long since robbed me of any ability to hear the music so I was there to photograph, to document, to get the scoop; which was an issue because the lighting inside the trend-proof bunker (last hiding place of bad hair and quality moustaches) can, from a photographer’s perspective, be described as utterly hopeless. Low coloured lighting inspires fuzziness even at higher shutter speeds hence why the visual component of this dribblesome waste of your time looks like bad 70s gig photography, that is, contrast pumped to max and monochrome. So you’ll have to deal with that, along with my usual ineptitude, verboseness and pointlessness.

Hear Waheela roar
It was Bannerman’s on a Friday, if you’ve never been, arrange a date because it’s a trip. Dozens of raving and stumbling drunks, around several people who have wandered in in business garb looking frightened and perplexed. Atragon’s bass priest Ewen was in attendance, along with all the usual freaks, dopers, smokers and assorted hangers-on. Newcastle’s Druganaut had been kind enough to let Waheela out to play. Play half-hour long psychotic explorations in the vein of Spacebong’s serious work, seas of distorted wall-of-sound with primitive screams floating over the top of it, like the bloody wake a captured whale leaves behind a Japanese trawler dragging it into port while restless seabirds toss in the air overhead. Dissassociatively, they play facing the amps, absorbing the full rumble first-hand. It’s a gimmick, but a gimmick that adds individuality heaped onto the musical they’re already inflicting. It was while leaning on the bar after that assault praying the booze would put some go back into my legs that I learned from foremost Jackal Flying V pilot Tommy that Druganaut were having some problems. Drum shamans on no-sleep and no-food shouldn’t indulge in extramarital affairs with Mary Jane, and after a particularly nasty-head splitting fall there was discussion of whether Druganaut would be able to play at all.
Concrete of the Jackals
Coming across Jackal drummer Stu Gordon (the married one) sitting Buddha-like on a Bannerman’s barrel taking in the whole mad mad scene. He confirmed that Druganaut’s drummer had taken a turn after too much recreational pharmaceutical aid. He seems to have a much more tenable chemical balance, and goes on to talk about Tyrant Lizard Kings support duties for the great and the good of the stoner rock underground overground. “Most of the people I know are cunts” he laughs. It’s all getting very heavy. I emerge from the bathroom having just scoffed down a handful of pills to chemically (and karmically) balance the heavyweight of whisky sloshing around in my otherwise-empty belly and Druganaut appear to be setting up. Yes it seems in lieu of an ambulance, a cheeseburger, a couple of beers, a ciggy and some fresh air are the appropriate medicine for a drummer who keeps passing out. Druganaut are kept out of the samey world of bland Down clones who’ve become the house bands to a half-dozen bars up and down the country by virtue of Craig Relf; tat’d-up frontman who owns the stage so thoroughly he could take out a mortgage on it. Commanding only by his physical presence, even if he were to simply stand at the front grimacing at the crowd, but he stomps and shouts his way through a high-speed set of their own Down-inflected pub metal and no sign of the impending hospitalisation said to be afflicting the drummer.

Bass Jackal Chris Smith, fuzzed out
Then it was the turn of old-hands Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead to be resurrected, dredged up from the river bed, the concrete shoes chiselled away and the worst of the seaweed brushed off, new flying V guitar and bass pushed into their hands and stumbled out onto stage to make with the Lovecraftian rumble. Things were sounding particularly thunderous because as well as the fiery electric shake reverberating outta their frets, the sound of broken glass underfoot as I maneuvered around, trying to make the best of Bannerman’s woeful lighting. The sound was so cacophonous I truly believed at one point that Chris Smith’s bass motherfuckery was not the only rumble, but that a great demonic being had awoken and was sleepily trudging the streets, leaving slimy trails. Their heaviness is the cure for what ails us, most definitely, and the new sound, the sound of tearing metal from the gee-tar and the sound of far-off Harleys from the bass brings a new atmosphere of heaviness so thick and caustic you can barely breathe it in, and when you do it dissolves your lungs; their heaviness has become truly primordial. At one point, the rumble was so potent, glasses were vibrated right off the stage. There were also murmurings that now Concrete is free of the Exploited the long-mythologised third Jackal record will become a reality. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead are truly back. In all that that entails. Always infrequent giggers at the best of times, I highly advise you to toke in a show at your earliest convenience, because how long this star-alignment will allow them to exist on the earth, it is hard to say. Tell yah what, I’m going to see Bongripper when they come to Bannerman’s (we’ll see about an interview as well) and there are burblings of Jackal support duties so here’s the plan. We ALL go down and pack out Bannerman’s, and drink them dry and drink in Transatlantic end-of-days muzak and make it the most successful gig Bannerman’s have done. Support your local, and they’ll bring you Bongripper kiddies!

Full Jackal lineup entering Leng. Tommy Concrete, Chris Smith and Stu Gordon (the married one)
Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead are currently bringing you things for free on bandcamp, as are Druganaut on wretched soundcloud (but their record is good) and Waheela also have music through loathesome soundcloud (what is it with Newky bands and soundcloud?) Anyhoo, avail yerself of those, learn, like, and see you at Bongripper.

Tommy Concrete, communicating with the Elder Beings

Written under duress by Steven.

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