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Saint Vitus/Orange Goblin, live in London

A double-header of metallic goodness in Soho

What is it with these people? First Ben Ward and then Dave Chandler are both seemingly obsessed with the fact that people have actually turned up to this gig on a Wednesday night.

Both the giant Goblin frontman and the Vitus guitar gringo express amazement at the fact that there are people inside the place. What should they be doing? Staying at home nursing a cup of the new One Direction franchised cocoa? And if they’re so stunned at the huge turnout, why do the bloody gig in the middle of the week?

OK, moan over. And that really is the sole complaint about the night. The gig is at a venue hardly known for being a benefactor to metal maniacs. Usually it’s… well, Ward sums it up best when at one juncture he exclaims: “I want to feel your Viking warrior spirit… Oh dear, I shouldn’t have said that in a place like this!”.

But the location works. It’s dingy, grimy, dark, generating a real metal atmosphere. And Orange Goblin certainly benefit from the experience. It’s a hometown gig for them, and the crowd are right into the groove as soon as they spark into Scorpionica. The band are in a ferociously feral mindset, with the charismatic Ward demanding – and getting – full fan commitment. And the Oranginos draw from across their extensive career, parading new songs Sabbath Hex, Heavy Lies The Crown and Into The Arms Of Morpheus alongside the more established Blue Snow and Quincy The Pig Boy. They even revisit debut album Frequencies From Planet Ten for the little-aired Saruman’s Wish.

However, the highlight is the expanded They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls), which allows Joe Hoare to expose his considerable guitar talents. It’s a monumental maze of metal majesty.

Nobody will ever replace Motörhead. But the Goblin are cut from the same granite, and here they explode. Remember the name in all its glory: Orange Fucking Goblin, baby!

The problem Saint Vitus face is that they are a little more low-key than what has gone before. And the place noticeably thins out before they clamber onstage. Well, those who chose to make an early exit miss a peerless example of the Vitus doom craft.

Living Backwards and I Bleed Black kick straight in, with the band’s trademark intensity ramped up to full impact. While they are pioneers of the doom tirade, Vitus don’t play at a mournful pace live. They vary the regime, often sounding like an amalgam of Budgie and Blue Cheer, with the occasional MC5 shudder. Vocalist Wino is in imperious mode, hugging the microphone stand as if he’s on an acid trip and mistaken it for the gothic beauty of actress Eva Green. His voice drips with an insolent rage as Let Them Fall and White Stallions are torn from the band’s catalogue, with Chandler delivering almost every guitar trick imaginable; he even plays with his teeth, as if it’s something he’s just thought up. Spellbinding, rather than clichéd.

The main set ends with Born Too Late and a shoal of feedback, before the four briefly return for the anthemic Saint Vitus, and a promise to return next year. It’s an imposing performance from Vitus, but they can’t quite match the pure power posse that is Orange Goblin.

“Saint Vitus and fucking Orange Goblin on the same bill,” an aghast Ward had said earlier. “That’s the best package you’ll see anywhere in the world right now.” You know what? He could be right.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.