Even on a Monday its silly season gig wise. Neurosis and Earth are just down the road, Psychic TV in Brixton and this stellar line-up at The Underworld. Choices had to be made and some missed out entirely with this one selling out completely before doors. Theres plenty of people without tickets trying beg, borrow or steal their way in and the place is suitably packed as Schammasch open up the ceremony. Looking an absolute picture in flowing robes and strange black paint as far as frontman Chris S.R. is concerned it’s a surreal visage to take in. Tonight they have time to make an impression although no complete 3 disc album playback. The Swiss outfit containing members of Cold Cell and Blutmond have been here once before but that still doesn’t prepare us for their enrapturing brand of mystical musical magic. It’s dense with an absolutely pulverising drum battery behind it and they are quick to envelop with an atmospheric charge. Glistening Nephilim etched guitar textures take into long fluid instrumental parts suddenly shattered by raw vocal barks. Like their albums it’s a lot to take in. Chris leads the corrupt ritual as though he is playing a devilish game of chess, if a remake of The Seventh Seal should ever be a prospect he would make a great Satan. The air is lightened with a song full of clean and fragrant vocals, full of rhythm, complex and with a backbone of pure malice. Arcane chants see them close to summoning Sumerian demons, heads spin as they bring things to a close having well and truly made an impact.
Also making a very welcome return to our shores it’s Mystifier up next all the way from Brazil. No hiding in ice here, they blaze away lit up and hit an immediate groove. Beelzeebubth looking cool as fuck in his shades postures away right in front of me occasionally joining in with Diego for an axe duel, they rasp, scythe and clatter away. They have a more natural thrashing, gnarly sound and get the front ranks banging heads in appreciation, the capital’s South American contingent are out in force and in fine voice with them. Black spell books are opened, rabid cries of Ave Satanas fill the air, there are ghastly cackles as flailing riffs are fired out with abandon. The tyrannical trio are uncouth and get the blood flowing. A nightmare in the form of a Sarcofago cover is unleashed, someone is dragged on stage to bellow to it briefly, I think the band said that he was one of the brothers of one of the original group but don’t quote me on that. There’s a real fervour and red mist as they all trade off each other. Towards the end of the set Diego cranks up the keyboard giving things a creepy and sinister flavour, total kvlt and a blazing set from beginning to end.
No secret really that the next couple of bands most recent discs are going to end up very high on my albums of the year list. Someone has to go first and it’s a little surprising it’s the Greek force of Rotting Christ. The place is stewed to the absolute gills as they march on and unleash their stomping latest ‘Ritual.’ Returning like conquering heroes the frantic driven fury sounds absolutely flattening getting things boiling over as Sakis roars out and unleashes the armies of Satan in a musical equivalent of an epic Ray Harryhausen special effect. Fists are pumped, guitar textures sublime and the sound is absolutely perfect. The constant stomping fury of the new material works brilliantly in the live setting, it’s a completely triumphant atmosphere and melody courses thickly through it all. The parts with sampled female choral fury just add to the thickness of the venomous delivery. It doesn’t actually feel like a gig, it’s more like a recreation of a famous historical battle and there can be but one victorious side here. ‘Apage Satana’ builds from the roots up around Themis tribal drum work out and the vocal chants, it’s all deadly and precisely delivered. Making a mistake and grabbing a much needed drink it is near impossible to force way back towards the front and the worship of songs such as ‘Grandis Spiritus Diavolos’ must be witnessed through a sea of heads and thrust up hands. Musically this was one of the best gigs of the year, comfort wise the worst; somehow though the ultimate declaration of ‘Non Serviam’ made it all worthwhile.
From Chaos They Came and that’s exactly what dastardly duo Inquisition deliver. Mercifully it has emptied just enough to make things slightly more bearable proving that for many Rotting Christ were definitely the main draw. It’s very much a case of ‘ooomph’ as a first thought as Incubus floors it and the drum sound goes straight through the ribcage realigning internal organs on the way. Strumming and croaking like a possessed banshee at the front all eyes are on Dagon and the sound is again immense. We know the pair are capable of making their recorded material sound so damn good in the live arena but it still kind of knocks you for six on witnessing it. Dagon has upped the visual element of the performance by having microphone stands on both sides of the stage so he can to and fro between them. What else can a duo do to entertain, apart of course from battering out satanic hymns in all their dark cloying glory?
The clinical feudal drive of songs like ‘Hymn For A Dead Star’ are all encompassing, strobes flash and fights seem on the verge of breaking out to the tumultuous whiplashing riffs. There’s absolutely no respite as the manic intensity continues, the next craggy number chunders out proffering its arcane devilry and we seethe along with it. There’s some slower grooves and absolute crushing moments as we are flung further into the vortex, we are briefly informed there is no time for chit-chat and are flung back in time to the craggy ‘Dark Mutilation Rites.’ Smoke billows out like a fetid belch from the devil’s butthole, the lurching riffs sending us giddy. I pretty much spaced out completely during it all, I guess that was the desired effect. The fury of ‘Astral Path To Supreme Majesties’ snaps me out of it allowing me to stagger out the venue to the apt sound of bleating goats. A cataclysmic and intense show all round!! The Bloodshed Ritual is complete.