Firstly mention should be made of German label Ván Records who all the band’s tonight are signed to. They seem to be going from strength to strength and really have their fingers on the pulse. The versatility of the outfits on display here certainly illustrate this. Another good thing is that the show sold out a couple of days before, meaning it was moved upstairs to the much larger Dome. Better sound and lighting, bigger stage and more room, win all round. It’s early when UK act Crom Dubh kick things but their pagan clamour draws people to the front. The sound is mighty and thick as they recant heathen tales of yore and we drink in the songs, most of which are from debut album Heimweh. The bass tones are gloriously thick, vocal yells wild and there is a cleaving tumult about it all. The burgeoning and windswept sound gets a few down the front twirling hair in time and you can really feel the musical clout especially from anywhere near the vicinity of the speakers as the floor is literally shaking. There’s the occasional fiery guitar solo and the drumming is thunderous and particularly bruising. The band finish off with an earlier song, it’s a right snappy banger make no mistake and Crom Dubh were definitely worth getting down early for with the formidable impression they made.

There’s a real air of mystery about (Dolch) and yep that is a case of brackets as an umlaut is so on trend now. There is no real information about the group on the normal places on the net and even early demo I & II which found its way to me on disc had little info on it, not even the group’s name (represented by a striking dagger logo which is also the backdrop here on stage.) I had just listened to demo III before the show, the jury is still out on that but I was looking forward to seeing the band who file out wearing hoods, dressed in black and smothered in darkness. Esoteric and doomy is what we get, the singer bewitches, a spell is cast and the methodical groove of the music definitely entrances. This is a set of filigree and shadows, it’s haunting and has an air of the ceremonial about it, all that is missing is the heady waft of incense but as that is a trick everyone seems to be using it was even breaking the norm by the group not doing so. Gates are opened, there are some backing chants and the bass cuts through as everything else is suddenly dropped for its solo presence. There are definite similarities to the likes of Chelsea Wolfe, Darkher and Myrkur here and the crowd are drawn to the haunting songs like moths to flame. I found the singer seemed to gain confidence through the show and when it is left to just her and the guitarist to serenade with shivering riffs and dulcet tones it was particularly atmospheric. As the rest of the band re-joins and they drive it all back in it’s a moment that completely flattens. I suspect this lot have a pretty dark future in front of them and I was glad to have witnessed them tonight.

The debut UK show from The Ruins Of Beverast has come very highly anticipated. Suddenly a bit more sense is made as the group including the singer from (Dolch) come on stage. Obviously it is her providing backing vocals on recent fantastic album ‘Exuvia.’ It is the first two lengthy tracks of this that we get here first and as the shamanic dreamtime tones fill the venue we are well aware this is going to be particularly impressive. As everything drops into place and the musical peyote takes over our senses, however it is even better than anticipated and the potency of the material live is near transcendental in scope. Little is comparable, perhaps the sadly missed Negura Bunget circa Om and that is maybe not totally surprising seeing as live guitarist from them and Secrets Of The Moon Arioch is present here on stage. Of course the maestro behind it all on album and helming the way here is Alexander von Meilenwald and his barking vocals drive things away with obvious aggression and passion behind them. It’s easy to lose yourself in this, the precision is fantastic, there are no less than four sets of harmonic croons , the drums thunder and the guitars weave a near Nephilimesque tapestry bringing a gothic grandeur to it all. I could have happily listened to the whole of the new album but some older songs have to be played too and even with an hour set time there is just not enough for more than 5 numbers. We head back a bit to feral bark and frenzied hateful power of ‘God’s Ensanguined Bestiaries.’ There’s little in the way of the previous tracks subtlety here just a beastly clamouring fervour. The shrine is unlocked and something majestically slithers out from ‘Beyond Bronze Wall’s.’ Creepy stygian horror stealthily spreads before tribal drumming piles in and we are obliterated by the dense sound. Beautiful in its ugliness it is left to ‘Maere’ to bring gothic death and drama to the set’s conclusion. I think it’s fair to say that TRoB more than delivered the goods tonight and blew many of us completely away. How the hell do you follow that?

Well with something completely different and a bottle of bourbon in your hand is about the only answer and it’s time for King Dude to do just that. I wondered if the black clad kvltists in the crowd would all file out but to be fair a lot of people crammed to the front and others stayed around to see what this was all about. Of course some of us know that well and it’s not that long since we caught the band headlining at the Underworld down the road. Time for songs about sex, death and redemption then! That “Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ bass riff signalling ‘Holy Christos’ broods in and things clatter off down the railway tracks and send those who know it “insane”! Time to bounce around, drink whatever you can get your hands on (it’s the best and most respectful way to witness The Dude) besides who want’s to live forever? ‘Cue I Wanna Die at 69,’ we sway along to the groove like proverbial lounge lizards. There’s some great keyboard swirls as the king takes a drink, there’s plenty of blues and shades of noir within his craft and we all dig in, the crowd all seeming more than respectful even to the slowest numbers.

I am happy swaying along to these, ballads taking on an air of near religiosity, all that’s missing is a pulpit. At the fastest though things are rattled out hell for leather, the depravity of the ‘Sex Dungeon’ being like a fist fight between Suicide and The Jesus And Mary Chain. I needed a bit of a baptism after that filth, luckily ‘Jesus In The Courtyard’ wasn’t too far down the line. It’s not all going down without a hitch though and the singer takes umbrage with someone in the crowd, wants him to leave, stopping a song in the middle. I’m not sure what happened but it’s sorted, the guy stays and everyone seems happy with the exception of a much more sensible bassist August Johnson sipping water and shaking her head at the singer like he’s a very naughty boy. They say the devil has all the best songs and wrapping them up with one of them ‘Lucifer’s The Light Of The World’ I feel like I found some sort of redemption tonight; although the hangover the next morning suggests otherwise!

Review and photos Pete Woods