Review by Sean Palmerston; Live photos and video by Adam Wills
This show was a long time coming. A few years after making their Canadian debut in Hamilton, Hammers of Misfortune finally made it all the way to Toronto – and brought The Gates of Slumber with them to boot! These two combined made this a must see for me since I love both bands and had never seen TGOS live before. And what a show it was!
Locals Kosmograd opened the show on this evening. Their post metal sound was something that would have fit better on a Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky show and left them as the odd band out on this bill. This isn’t to say they weren’t good, just that they weren’t the best fit for what was to follow.
Toronto / San Francisco doom trio Castle were next. It wasn’t that long ago that the band last played Toronto, opening the festivities for the Blood Ceremony/Witch Mountain show a few weeks previous, and this was another excellent set by the band. Newly signed to Prosthetic Records for North America, they played a great, solid set. Bassist Elizabeth Blackwell is an exceptional musician, a spot on bassist who never missed or flubbed a note. I just wish she’d get rid of those damn feathers on the head of her bass. If you haven’t heard them yet make sure to pick up their great new album Blacklands, reviewed elsewhere on this site.
Finally getting to see The Gates of Slumber after all these years was an absolute treat. Rejoined recently by “Iron” Bob Fouts on drums, the venerable American doom trio played an excellent, balls heavy set of doom that was exactly what I had hoped it would be. Although guitarist Karl Simon didn’t look too happy all night long, the trio gave it their all, playing a few new tunes off The Wretch along with some choice Conqueror selections too. The band sounded great, looked great and totally made my night. If I would have had to leave then I would have done so very happily.
Fortunately I didn’t and there was one more excellent band to go. Hammers finally made their Toronto debut to a very appreciative crowd. The band looked quite different from the last time I saw them, with only guitarist John Cobbett and keyboardist Sigrid Sheie holdovers from their last Ontario performance. Not that it mattered, as Cobbett has assembled another crack band for Hammers’ newest incarnation. New vocalist Joe Hutton, a headbanging machine when not singing, did a great job and fits in the band extremely well. So does new guitarist/vocalist Leila Abdul-Rauf, who is also a member of the equally-as-excellent Vastum.
The biggest surprise was to see Death Angel drummer Will Carroll behind the kit. He apparently only had a few days to learn the set before going on tour, but you wouldn’t know it watching this set. Hammers operated like a well oiled machine, concentrating on their 17th Street album but also playing songs off the previous double album and a few Locust Years tracks too. It was every bit as good as the first time I had seen them, if not even better this time. Cobbett was thankfully not nearly as loud as he was last time around and the sound in the Courthouse was much better overall than their Hamilton ON Canadian debut. The only problem was it was over too soon!