I first heard Doom in the late 1980's at my friend Denis Marquette's house on a Sunday afternoon. He used to sell records from his home and had ordered a copy of the War Crimes LP by an English band named Doom. We were both (and still are) massive Discharge fans and this new band were being billed as the next logical successor to that aggressive politically-aware British hardcore dynasty. I recall being quite impressed by the music but admittedly, I was not quite ready for the guttural vocals that I automatically equated with death metal. I passed on purchasing the record mostly because it was an expensive import and it had a slight warp. Despite this first encounter with Doom, I managed to keep their name stored in my memory bank.
Fast forward to the early 1990's and I pick up a very reasonably priced 7" by Doom entitled Police Bastard. This time, I was ready. I dug the tunes, the lyrics and the aesthetics. Over the years, I casually followed the band's career and picked some more records along the way. As their legend grew, they managed to maintain their sound throughout the years without straying into grindcore or metal. They have also spawned many imitators who usually fall short of the mark.
This winter I heard through the grapevine that the band would embark on their very first Canadian tour and would be making a stop in Halifax, NS. I immediately set upon making arrangements and contacting potential traveling partners (Daryl and Billy). On the day of the gig, we did the usual: check in to the hotel, grab a bite to eat as well as some pints, then head to the record stores. I was surprised to learn that Taz Records had moved locations yet again. How many times is that? Six?
Gus' Pub is, for lack of a better description, a hipster dive-bar. It's not fancy but functions well with a small stage for live music, cold beer, food counter at the back and video lottery machines. On this day, all the tables and chairs were packed away in order to accommodate the throngs of people. Lots of familiar faces from the 1990's punk scene were in attendance. From the Halifax crew there was D-Rock, Colleen Britton, Cara MacDonald and Ian Hart. Saint John was represented by Daryl Buote and Gavin MacNeil. Scott Douthwright seemed to be the only geezer from the antiquated Moncton squad other than myself and the only guy from Fredericton was Big Dan. Drinks were flowing and
laughter was plentiful. Lots of Motorhead and Napalm Death t-shirts were seen.
Opening acts were cut from the same cloth; fast and unrelenting. Sleigth were local young guys belting out grind/hardcore beats over guttural vocals during their very short set. Life Chain were fast hardcore and were sounding slightly European in their approach. I would like to hear some recordings soon. Vancouver's Systematik were on next. Comprised of members of Unlearn and Vacant State, their experience was immediately apparent as the energy level was high and their set was tight and concise. They no doubt benefited from weeks of touring. Local heroes Napalm Raid stepped on next and were a real treat. Since their bassist resides in Montreal, they rarely appear locally or regionally preferring to tour all over this continent. This hometown show was special indeed as they got to play with one of their greatest influences. Their set, as always, was amazing and the hometown crowd responded in kind. They are truly of international caliber. Fantastic!
Doom were everything I expected and more. Unassuming and ferocious at the same time. Four polite Brits making such a glorious noise. The atmosphere was electric as the crowd went absolute ballistic. I was up front attempting to take photographs but after three or four songs I realized it was futile to get something in focus so I retired on the perimeter of the chaos dance. Despite a lack of sleep after traveling many hours from Western Canada, the lads really gave it up. The audience were thrilled beyond belief and went absolutely crazy when the band played such classics as Police Bastard and Exploitation. After the gig, we got to chat with Bri (guitar) and Denis (vocals) and they were as expected, very nice, down to earth and polite. Extra points to bassist Scoot for sporting a Voivod t-shirt. Long live Doom!