Killer line up this one, London is well and truly spoiled by the sort of bill we often look at in other European destinations and think will never come to England, but it did and by the time doors open there is already a healthy crowd expectantly awaiting the first band at 5PM.
It is the Irish that are first and second on today and Zom had totally impressed when they played Live Evil in 2013 and were well worth getting down and out of the sun into the venue and breathe in the dry ice and the oncoming madness. The trio immediately bang out a dense and unforgiving wall of noise. The drums batter and thud, guitars and bass scythe and chunder and the vocals roar cavernously in the mix with beefy reverb ringing and booming through the room. The bass definition is particularly leaden and a grove with a massive coat of grime and crust thickly emerges getting head banging action down the front. Between song feedback makes it all the more deadly before they slam back into another eviscerating slab of molten death worship with a punk laden bounce about it. Doom seeps in and slithers out before everything hammers away for a final assault. Perfect. Going from thick and morbid parts and building into incendiary ferociousness is the way of this hellish game and even with just half an hour the band have no problems totally decimating us. It is a case of someone has to go first here but it’s a formidable start and Zom certainly leave their beastly mark.
Like the openers Malthusian are still at the demo stage as far as recordings are concerned but that does not mean any hindering of quality. It starts with the caress of weighty doom, unsurprising as the band contains Mourning Beloveth and Wreck Of The Hesperus members in it. Guitars weep and it is cold blue and dead amidst the dry ice atmospherically on the stage. Then this storm breaks with churning, seething thunderous fury taking us into another dimension. It’s completely compelling and windswept as the craggy vocals join in and their ‘Plague Spoor’ is completely unleashed. It seems like they are playing effortlessly as they punish with a heaving lead-lined assault which sees the band fixed in position as they slow it down to a crawl. Shivering guitar parts intricately flail away and we are battered straight back into a virulent maelstrom. From doom to complete blackness this is a rigorous display of churning venom now, an epoch of Armageddon and with the front three all sharing the vocals the rafters were hit and almost toppled at levels that pretty much floored from the front to the back of the venue. The blue lighting was constant adding a malevolent atmosphere for which there was no let up. All that remained was the touch of cold death. If that sounds clichéd fair enough, for those of us soaking it up, it was anything but.
20 minutes between bands sees a mass exodus over the road and the off licence not knowing what hit it. Some no doubt decided to stay there but there was no time for that with the approach of the first performance from Spearhead in a few years. They project a completely different vibe both with much looser sound allowing us to hear things with much more definition rather than cloaking it all in impenetrable blackness and on stage too with lighting boosted right up. This is a band who want to be seen and heard! The technicality of the death laden assault shines through as a result and the likes of 2nd album title track ‘Decrowning The Irenarch’ remind just what a potent force this lot are. Barghest barks away vocally and pretty much commands and drums help lead the charge, battering away fast and furiously resulting in fist pumping action down the front. This is a more traditional form of death metal brutality and it feels somewhat more comfortable as a result. They always convey a sort of gladiatorial vibe having started out with a fixation to bygone Roman legions but now they seem to be playing in a more straight ahead fashion. You can at times note technical flourishes and twists that are reminiscent of Morbid Angel and the full force brutalism pulverises like the Polish hordes. It seems to get harder and faster as the set continues. Heads almost roll as barbed guitars attack and try to lop limbs off, the conclusion is like the last few minutes of a Game Of Thrones episode and just as satisfying. Good to see the band back!
I could have sworn that Cruciamentum had said about ceasing live activities not too long ago but guess they have changed their minds as here they are. One thing they have not changed thankfully is their tune and it’s still one that’s abyssal death metal! Now I am slightly deaf by now but I think they said they had some new songs and Necrophagous Communion sounded like it was announced. If I have that completely wrong, someone out there grab it, it’s an excellent song title. The band seemed a bit less dense than I have seen them before too, not quite as chaotic in the mix with everything clear again rather than buried in it. It really suits too as they crush us into a filthy hellish brew of weighty blasts and intense vocal hollers. Crunching bass rumbled out the speakers, vocals took on a feral bite and the Brits gave all the SweDeath imitators crawling out the woodwork a real run for their money, slowing things down a left hand path and relentlessly driving it all back into an all consuming snarling mass. Deathless Ascension had me standing next to the speaker which was stupid but gave a good view of the pit which at last had got really fired up. Following demo track Convocation Of Crawling Chaos was battered out at ground force zero flattening velocity and moving into the thick of it was like being caught in a tornado. I thought that the 50 minutes the band had allotted to them might be a bit too much but again it breezed by leaving me hungering for more. Entranced in the slow crush of the last one, it was a bit like a death metal bringer of war and as formidable as anything Holst could have envisaged.
Bölzer have a big job to convince me and the reason is that it seems like their name is being really hyped up at the moment. Reports of how damn good the Swiss lot are live have been relayed and a couple of listens to their EP (which with a demo is all they have so far) ‘Aura’ has got me interested but not exactly at fever pitch. One thing I had not expected was that they are just a duo comprising of guitarist and vocalist KzR and drummer HzR. Even if I had known that I would have kind have expected them to flesh things out with more live players. What do I know though? It’s quickly evident the duo have no need to do this as they get underway. The rumours of how good they are had obviously spread, it was pretty hemmed in at the front with heads banging and fists flying as the pair on stage fired out a gruff hellish demonic sermon. It roared away with far more ferocity than one could have expected and the fog billowing off the stage helped captivate the grim intense atmospheres and in turn I found myself getting more and more captivated by it all. It was good but the infamy had proceeded it and I still needed more proof. Fast flailing leads are fired out with a finger bleeding veracity, drums beat a bruising tumult and vocals were rough and raw. One number stood out with slewed guitar sounds almost warping away with strange effects mixing with the wolven roars from the vocals. It was certainly bringing me round enough to move into a central position and lose myself in the thuggish clamour as the drums pummel away. A bit of an industrial feel started to come through making me think of a blackened Godflesh as it built into what could only really end in a mangled heap of wreckage. The more this intensified the more compelling it became and there is no doubt there is something rather special about this lot and as far as live duos are concerned they are up there with the best of them (well maybe they should come back and support Inquisition later this year!).
I never could have guessed picking up a promo of Mystifier album ‘The World Is So Good…’ in a long defunct Soho record store that I would finally get the chance to see them 18 years later. Luckily the strange faux operatic black devil worship of that album did not put me off but there was none of that tonight as the band with one original member Beelzeebubth were dipping further back in time to play a 70 minute set of exclusive material from 1992 and 1993 albums Wicca and Göetia. After a long atmospheric build up with backs to us they eventually turn and face the highly anticipating crowd and unleash hell and thunder from the speakers. There is a razor sharp tightness about them despite the recent invocation of the drummer and lead vocalist / bassist into the band. Speaking of the latter Diego Araujo is a manic buzz of activity. The former Infested Blood man seems totally deranged as he juggles vocals with many a cackle and lunatic bark, keyboards and axe attack. It’s almost a show on its own just watching him. After flattening us with Osculum Obscenum we get a more theatrical and lunatic sermon in the form of An Elizabethan Devil-Worshipper’s Prayer Book slowing things down. Vocals snarl and bite and some fiery licks from the guitars add to the dark atmosphere conjured up.
Songs about the end of Christianity add to the overall theme as spiky guitar work unleash the hate and vocals hit a necrotic croak. Defloration (The Antichrist Lives) foully oozes out the crypt and attacks evil cackles make it all the more stench ridden. A guest singer appears from somewhere and does a great job even if nobody quite knows who the hooded man was? It was rammed down the front and watching from the side with a much needed cold brew I wondered what on earth was going on as I could hear guitars but not see them. Ah Beelzeebubth is playing in the crowd, that explains it. Back on stage the command of “Destroy everything, kill your fucking selves” rang out. Err can we finish watching the show first please? Yes there was more left, the South Americans were not done with us yet carrying us across the threshold into the abyss for more magic and mayhem before leaving us spent knowing that this had been a very special ritual that would remain in the memory for some time to come.
London was definitely spoiled today with six excellent bands all playing blinding shows. We get to continue this madness next week at the same place as Necros Christi, Binah, The One and Funeral Throne are playing too. Be there or be dead!
(Review and photos © Pete Woods)