Cybernetic Witch Cult, a stoner rock band from Cornwall in England, came up to Scotland to blast out their own brand of bonkers music. They played to fans in Edinburgh Bannerman’s Rock Bar on a Thursday night. This is not always the best evening for crowds, but, pleasingly, there were a good number there and they were definitely up for the show. This three piece have elements of bands such as Cathedral, Monster Magnet and Hawkwind. However, they have a beautiful sense of fun and bizarreness that sets them apart from those bands (and also from those who have those similar influences).
All evening, there was a cool vibe with Cybernetic and what seemed to be co-headliners Morass Of Molasses. They were both wandering around, chatting with folks before during and after the show. In addition, it was superb to see both bands out on the floor in the crowd supporting each other through their sets. They was lots of heckling going on between them. All done with smiles and respect.
The Stage Show
Cybernetic Witch Cult use projections during their show. Some of the footage is taken from the sci-fi or horror based movies, upon which songs are often based. For those of a certain age, the original slide/backdrop brought back memories of the old BBC Test Card. This had a girl on it who looked like she was in a horror movie and slightly possessed, along with a terrifying looking doll next to her!
Cybernetic Witch Cult… the Set!
Opening with some movie footage featuring the brilliant lines “sir, we are an anti-terrorist unit, we weren’t trained to hunt mega dinosaurs”, they blast off and out of the blocks with a heavy thunderous groove in the song “Velocirapture”. Singer and guitarist Alex (they only use their first names), from the off, shows a powerful and clear set of vocals that are throaty and (at times) menacing.
They then went straight into the second track “Dark Star”. This is based upon a John Carpenter movie of the same name from 1974. I loved the way they used a scene where the guys on the spacecraft are clapping and jigging in their seats and matched it with the tune they were playing. This reminded me a little of what the old BBC tv show The Old Grey Whistle Test used to do when they didn’t have the performer in the studio and there was no footage of the band. There was a great section where it went a little jazzy. Lewis worked his way round his cymbals, leading into the guitar solo. Again, this is a bit different from other bands in the genre.
Tonight was also a showcase for new material they are working on for their next album. Therefore, we had three new songs played in a row. All three were good and make the new album to come sound promising. There were two that stood out more for me and the best of them was “Spice”. We were reliably informed that this was about “space worms” and was quite atmospheric in places, reminding me a little of Hawkwind. It was still wonderfully heavy. In my notes, I have written this about it as “a real sweet groovy headbanger” and “I like this one a lot”! That is my critique in a nutshell.
The other tune that really grabbed me was “Cetacean”, a song about “space whales” (whatever they are)! The film footage had whale type creatures in a fuzzy background. Unusually, it was the bassist Doug who played a bow over his instrument making some ethereal sounds and whale noises (I think). The ending with this, and some fine drumming made this particularly pleasing.
The only song played from “Trodlodithic Trip” on the night was the excellent “Cult Of The Druid”. This has another nice bass lead opening and some great drum fills and rolls at various points through it. One of the things I like is the way they can hit a groove or riff and play with it for a while. This track has at least one belter in it. I did check my notes and it simply said “quality”.
They finished with a song they only partly announced as the crowd did the rest. All Alex said was “High Wizard” and the audience screamed back “King Of The Horsehead Nebula”. It is one of those with quite silly lyrics delivered with a huge smile. The chorus is superb and there were folk near me singing it rather loudly. Quite rightly!
Final thoughts on Cybernetic Witch Cult
I thoroughly enjoyed the set and the new songs were impressive. To see people dancing and heabanging away like the songs were already favourites, was pleasing and I am sure the band were happy with the reaction. OK, I have no idea what they are on about lyrically half the time, but it doesn’t matter when you throw out such riffs and melodies.
Morass Of Molasses
Although I was there to review Cybernetic, I cannot finish the review of the night without writing about the first band. Morass Of Molasses are also a three piece stoner outfit, but they were very different to Cybernetic. This was a band I hadn’t had the chance to check out beforehand, much to my shame. They have a great line in comedy and banter. The suggestions of wrong ways to hear the band’s name got me laughing away. I did hear elements of The Groundhogs with a more bluesy, but yet gritty style, than Cybernetic.
They also seemed to be promoting new material. At least some of the new ones that they said were new, actually were. They sort of played with those of us ignorant of their music. Apparently, they did play three from their album, These Paths We Tread, two from an EP and the rest were new. Or maybe not!
Morass Of Molasses – The Set
The band opened with “Centralia”. This had an early Peter Green Fleetwood Mac feel at times, especiallly on the drums. However, the screamed vocal section was different altogether. Singer and bassist Bones “the beard” Huse can get quite angry or distressed in his vocal manner. However, he can also whisper at points.
“Estranger” was the slowest track of the night, going from a blues into a metal screamed monster. They did say that Cybernetic told them it was a “good song to fuck to”. However, they were curious how they knew, being three blokes sleeping in a van! This was the cue for much laughter.
In addition, I particularly enjoyed “Rotten Teeth”, a dirty sounding progressive blues piece. This was (apparently) the first song they ever wrote.
They sounded great and impressed me terrifically. When guitarist Phil “the mountain” said to me that he didn’t feel at his best on the night, either he is a perfectionist or this band can be EVEN better! This is definitely a band I want to also see again.
Well done to the two bands for a fantastic evening in Bannermans. Stoner rock is alive and well and kicking up a storm.