By Simon Shoulders, Rock At Night London
Venue: The Dev in Camden: Cybernetic Witch Cult – May 7, 2017
Go on. Admit it. They had you at the name didn’t they? With a name like “Cybernetic Witch Cult” you are almost duty bound by the insatiable musical curiosity that has led you this far, to follow the links in this article and see what sort of noise this band makes. I’ve been on a similar journey, and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised and completely hooked by what I found…
Cybernetic Witch Cult consist of Alex Wyld (Guitar and Vocals); Kale Deane (Bass and Vocals) and Lewis May (Drums) all of whom hail from Cornwall, a land beyond the Tamar River in the far southwest of the UK. It’s not a land that’s normally associated with groove-laden stoner-rock but it seems that with their blend of 70’s rock, doom metal, space rock and more b-movie sci-fi and horror movies than you can safely shake Ash Williams’ “Boom-Stick” at, Cybernetic Witch Cult might just be out to change that. Their songs are stories of galaxy spanning space invasions and apocalyptic nuclear sunsets at the worlds end and they are populated by space-faring druids, mighty wizards and and exceptionally hungry dinosaurs. On paper at least, we appear to have entered the realm of the “faintly ridiculous”. Don’t look away just yet because those stories are told with a compelling and heady mix of heavy bass grooves, melodic hook-laden riffs, explosive howling guitar solos and the rich, growling vocals of that manages to keep on just the right side (ie: the significantly heavier, much darker and more velociraptor-rich side) of glam-rock, power-pop pastiche.
I was lucky enough to see Cybernetic Witch Cult at one of their rare London gigs at The Dev in Camden supporting Doctor Cyclops last weekend. The Dev is a small pub and venue off the Kentish Town Road in Camden, the clothing worn by all those within is more or less uniformly black. Leather, tattoos and piercing’s abound and the atmosphere is warm and full of laughter as the bands set up and soundcheck on the small, dark stage wedged in to the back corner of the venue behind two suitably monolithic speaker stacks. The walls and ceiling are papered with cult film posters. The somewhat sinister staring eyes of Alex from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ “Clockwork Orange” watch over events as they unfold from high up on the wall behind the drum kit. There is just about room for the Cybernetic Witch Cult, their kit, their pedal boards (one hi-tech and one somewhat ad-hoc involving what might have once been the front of a drawer and copious amounts of gaffer-tape), and the all important lap-top with effects-pedal control for the visuals.
CHECK OUT their song “Tyranosaurus Hex”
From the off, Cybernetic Witch Cult ensure a full audio-visual assault with glaring psychedelic visuals loaded with movie clips and animations accompanying each and every track. The set list is a high-velocity, breakneck tour through the band’s most recent releases, the EP Troglodithic Trip and the full-length album Spaceous Cretaceous starting with “Enchantress” and “Astrogalactic Sprites” before Alex introduces “Cult of the Druid” by yelling “This one’s about being on a space ship full of Druids on their way to Mars!”. A sentence that does much to sum up everything that Cybernetic Witch Cult are and the journey they are on. Alex and Kale share the vocal workload with Kale often finishing off lines of lyrics Alex has started. Their voices compliment each other and fit so well together that recorded you wouldn’t know there were two vocalist, live this just adds another layer to an already tight and enjoyable stage show.
Before the set I heard it said that some members of the considerable crowd rammed in to the back of The Dev and streaming down beside the bar were disappointed to realise that Star Wars-inspired “Hunted on Hoth” was not on the set list, but the band more than made up for this (very minor!) disappointment with a searing, face-melter of a second-half containing “Dark Star” (a full sci-fi b-movie crammed in to 6 minutes and 46 seconds), “High Wizard” (the story of a thoroughly unpleasant, but exceptionally powerful wizard who ends up a tad lonely once he’s destroyed everyone else), and “Nuclear Sunset”, introduced with an invite to the last party on earth down in Cornwall (and a reminder to enjoy the last few moments you’ve got when nuclear armageddon eventually happens), before rounding off with a monumental performance of “Tyranosaurus Hex” the last track on their recent EP “Troglodithic Trip” (re-recorded and reimagined from their first album “Morlock Rock” from 2015).
There’s a refreshing level of pure fun, fantastic escapism and tongue in cheek humour throughout Cybernetic Witch Cult’s music which I find is a welcome panacea to an underground London scene that is producing excellent but increasingly angry and confrontational music in response to the climate that it finds itself within. That’s not to say that comment on the state of the world today is in any way absent, strip away the layers and it’s there waiting for you (listen to “Nuclear Sunset” and drink in the visuals), but the vitriol is cut with an alluring and surreal humour making a bitter tasting pill much easier to swallow.
All in all, Cybernetic Witch Cult were a great start to an evening’s entertainment and delivered a set that’s deserving of being much further up the bill. I’m sure they’ll be top of the bill soon enough…
Alex Wyld – Guitar and Vocals
Kale Deane – Bass Guitar and Vocals
Lewis May – Drums
Enchantress – Spaceous Cretaceous
Astrogalactic Sprites – Troglodithic Trip
Cult of the Druid – Troglodithic Trip
Forbidden Fruit – Troglodithic Trip
Dark Star – Spaceous Cretaceous
High Wizard (King of the Horsehead Nebula) – Spaceous Cretaceous
Nuclear Sunset – Spaceous Cretaceous
Tyrannosaurus Hex – Troglodithic Trip
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