InquisitionThis was for many the first gig of the year and the black hordes were really crawling out the woodwork to such an extent there were apparently only 2 quickly snapped up tickets remaining when the doors opened. It’s a hefty no bullshit line up too, no local supports clogging things up, the only unfortunate thing being Russian band Blackdeath not having made it here with the rest of the bands. This meant it was up to Ondskapt who along with Archgoat were playing London for the first time in years to open proceedings.  The Swedes comprising members from the likes of IXXI, Valkyrja, Die Hard and Nifelheim among others kept us entertained with some strange chanting music before the lights dimmed and their intro piece creeped me out crafting an eerie atmosphere akin to a Satanic opera. It felt almost as cold as it was outside as this Jerry Goldsmith sounding piece billowed out the speakers. Working out what was played was in this case not something that needed to concern me as the band were playing the whole of their debut album from 2002 ‘Draco Sit Mihi Dux’ on these dates and the 45 minute playing time consists of the tracks entitled simply by Roman numerals. That task dispensed with it was a case of pressing to the front to get some pictures which at this early stage was quite easy, when I had done so and turned around though the venue had suddenly become rammed with everyone getting here in time to catch Ondskapt’s deadly precise attack. Fast sinuous guitar work and blasting drums made this a rigorous exercise in orthodoxy. It was completely contagious spreading through the venue like a horrible fetid disease. Cloaked and corpse painted vocalist Acerbus shrieked over these unholy hymns with occasional blasts of reverb biting hard. Things slowed down, this was not a one dimensional attack and the music was allowed to slither and stalk as it crawled with the sound both sharp and venomous. One section started with a slow and morbid sounding guitar part unravelling before the horrendous and tortured vocals forced their way into things and building up to a blasting and cleaving tsunami with enough force to take your head off. A grimly and fiendish display Ondskapt proved a quality proposition.

Getting towards the front for filthy Finns Archgoat proved to be one hell of a mission, especially as their arrival had really fired up the pit and the brutality was quick to spread off the stage and infect the audience. There’s little in the way of finesse from this terrible trio and these advocators of nuns, cunts and darkness batter into things like brutal cavemen. Despite their latest album ‘The Apocalyptic Triumphator’ having only just been released a mere two days ago it hardly seemed as if unfamiliarity with new songs was going to stop this crowd from raging as Lord Angelslayer wielded his massive bass and hollered down at us. This is a potent and pulverising attack with little in the way of mercy about it. I had taken the chance to play all three albums by the band this afternoon and was prepared for the musical masochism and it seemed as though everyone else was too. Just as deadly were the slower doomy parts, with ‘Grand Luciferian Theophany’ proving just as obtuse and ugly but allowing a slight breathing space. “Hail Satan, Hail Lucifer” indeed. At full force on ‘Goddess Of The Abyss Of Graves’ they barked, bit and spat things out with drummer Sinisterror providing a right old battery from hell. Playing with blood red lighting the hammer and tongs brutality was a deadly and furious affair and the band coasted along with bursts of adrenaline contaminating us all. ‘Goat And Moon’ doomed things down again and the effect of marrying two speeds together throughout the set had a cataclysmic effect leaving you not knowing when to go mental or collapse in a pile. Playing a nice long set they certainly delivered and wielded ‘The Hammer Of Satan’ here mightily.

Terrifying toady twosome Inquisition are no strangers to our shores even if they do have the habit of getting here by the skin of their teeth. No problems today as far as that was concerned with them being at the venue by 3PM and more than ready to play without having to literally run in the place, plug in and go for it. With the exception of maybe their 1st on bill support slot at The Forum they were definitely playing to the biggest London audience to witness them tonight and certainly as headliners. With ‘Force Of The Floating Tomb’ they brutally battered in with  Incubus hidden behind his kit solidly blasting away and Dagon’s croaky vocals and groove laden guitar playing filling in the gaps. There’s not really much to describe about what’s going on as far as the stage is concerned, it can’t be easy being pretty much the sole focus of attention at the front of things but Dagon has got microphones set up on both sides of it and moves between the two giving those at the front thrusting adoring fists in the air plenty of opportunity to have him standing up close and personal to them. Their marvellous dismal orations sound fantastic and the band always amaze the power they manage to project live, sounding as masterful as tracks do on album. ‘Ancient Monumental War Hymn’ makes its brutal statement and rips through the place and it’s a case of once you are in the proximity of the front it’s wise to stay there as I found out getting a much needed pint and having a very tough time of it getting back and have anything resembling a decent vantage point.

The pair dipped through the aeons of their discography swapping album tracks and giving everything a chance to put in a fierce appearance on this long involving set. It was pretty easy to get dazzled by the precision of it all and lose yourself in the hypnotic fast flowing riffs. Those that wanted to could make a bit of space and batter themselves along to the drumming in the centre of the venue. Hitting slower brooding parts with the likes of ‘Where Darkness is Lord and Death the Beginning’ these odes of grimness unspooled converting everyone to their deep dark presence. The more ancient rites such as ‘Those Of The Unlight’ took us back to the olden days but stood up well to the newer material having a lot more force to them here than they did when originally released. There was little time for anything in the way of announcements between songs, their messages were present enough in the lyrics and I think they played a suitable 13 of these from the Lucifer invoking ‘Command Of The Dark Crown, which was dizzying whirlwind of force right through to an ultimate ‘Infinite Interstellar Genocide.’  Got to admit genocide was what I felt like being hemmed in with this many people after such a lengthy period of hibernation but there was no faulting any of the bands tonight who all did us proud and kicked off the year in a stormy sterling fashion.

(Review and photos © Pete Woods)