Rose Kemp's Unholy Doom


13 Feb 2009, 20:07

Fri 6 Feb – Rose Kemp

Braving the winter weather for a while, it’s my first trip to The Cooler since venturing there whilst man-flu’d up in October last year to catch Nebula. This time to catch local based folky-doom metal-singer-songwriter Rose Kemp.

Obligatory alcohol related comment: the Guinness was rather dry and metallic tasting tonight, which isn’t good.

Opening things tonight were An Axe, a local outfit who fused post rock with more conventional indie rock. Or at least they seemed like they tried to, because what came over was rather turgid and dull. The post rock aspects lacked the intricacy, delicacy and depth required in this genre, the indie rock aspects were neither catchy nor memorable. Imagine generic Arctic Monkeys wannabes trying to be Radiohead.

Following this were The Transpersonals, who hadn’t impressed me when they supported Nebula. This time however, they managed to put on a much better performance. They’d ditched the dated Madchester indie stylings and concentrated more on a harder, full-ahead sound. There are still psychedelic influences in there, but they’re far less contrived and the band no longer sound like rejects from the Hacienda. They’re growing in identity (not too sure about wearing a dress though) and ability, rather than just sounding like another mid-90s knock-off indie band, which is always good to see.

Ms Kemp has already had a considerable career in a variety of styles, something no doubt supported by her parents, Rick Kemp and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span fame. Having previously seen her in solo acoustic mode, which she hadn’t managed to pull off, it’ll be interesting to see how she fares in fully backed electric mode.

The answer is, thankfully, really well actually. She’s in full on doom mode (considering the volume and intensity of the sound, perhaps that should be DOOM mode). It’s slow and low and scarily intense (Milky White coming over as a Earth shaking sonic assault).

It’s not just doom metal however, Kemp weaves a gamut of sludge, stoner and other metal styles, mainly deep and dark, into her music and although she’s not a death growler, that’s about the only area her vocals don’t go. Although there are moments where her voice reminds us of her mother, a better comparison would be PJ Harvey at her most eclectic.

Kemp does perform solo for a few numbers, where her folk heritage comes to the fore, with only a telecaster for and digital delay for backing, it proves a welcome diversion for a small part of the set.

Finishing off with the epic The Unholy, it’s been a night that shows off Kemp’s strengths and if this is the final show supporting the Unholy Majesty album, it’s a fine way to close a period.


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