THE EARLS OF MARS

PLUS: SER­PENT VENOM, DORRE

Kerrang! (UK) - - 50 Greates Metal Albums Ever -

EC­CEN­TRIC ENGLISH DIRT-PROGGERS TAKE LON­DON ON A MAG­I­CAL MYSTERY TOUR

■ THERE’S A cer­tain kind of screw-loose mad ge­nius that you only get with the English. Imag­ine an en­dear­ingly crack­ers maths pro­fes­sor who can hold a 500-part equa­tion in his head as nat­u­rally as fall­ing off a log, but might as well have birds tweet­ing around his ears. That’s ba­si­cally Brit prog-twid­dlers The Earls Of Mars in a nut­shell: vastly in­tel­li­gent, yelling at the stars and as English as a cup of tea. And tee­ing up this crazi­ness are Bel­gium’s Dorre, who cre­ate a colos­sally heavy doom abyss into which they try to suck ev­ery­thing – your ears, day­light, re­al­ity – to hyp­no­tis­ing ef­fect. Next, Lon­don’s cham­pi­ons of all things slow and low, Ser­pent Venom, ar­rive to squash The Black Heart with riffs of pure Sab­bath steel. Well, even­tu­ally they do. First they have to send mem­bers off­stage to fi nd other mem­bers, then set the vibe with a cou­ple of min­utes of dense feed­back. But – by Iommi’s cru­cifi x! – when those enor­mous riffs rum­ble forth they are sim­ply as­ton­ish­ing. Fans of hulk­ing, slow doom that charges at you like a bi­son fi ght­ing its way out of a tar pit will fall in love with this lot in­stantly. But the most love tonight is re­served for The Earls Of Mars, who some­how man­age to get peo­ple singing along joy­ously to their in­sane, proggy hymns as though this is a Justin Bieber gig. Mu­si­cally, they’re a bit like Clutch or Or­ange Goblin fed through Alice’s Look­ing-glass, a sound that’s recog­nis­able, but twisted into strange, in­trigu­ing new shapes. Front­man Harry Arm­strong, mean­while, is part grin­ning key­board de­mon, part wide-eyed preacher man, de­liv­er­ing his ser­mons to God-knows-what like Jim Mor­ri­son’s scruffi er, fur­ther-out brother. Mad? Yeah, but lov­ably so.

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