SepticFlesh do not exactly play the UK very often and with just the London date and Inquisition joining as co-headliners this was always going to be a busy one. It would have been very interesting to see Egyptian band Odious who were meant to be playing but they had not made it over, possibly due to Visa issues. This was good news for Suffolk squadron Stahlsarg who had been drafted in at the last minute to replace them and there was a lot of people already in the venue to greet them and hear tracks from their last album ‘Mechanisms Of Misanthropy.’ White faced and all guns blazing the war is immediately a violent one as the band set about raising the dead with the first track off the aforementioned album. There’s a grim and gritty feel about it all and vocalist Eissturm looms over the front ranks and harangues us with pig gutting squeals and low gargling tones. The rest of the band pillage from the trenches with military precision and a gloomy, doomy break gets feet stomping and heads banging along. There is plenty of atmosphere about it all and melody seeps in with mournful gravitas. ‘Damocles XIII’ from debut album ‘Comrades In Death’ drops and chops and even has a power metal scream from the singer amidst its hefty tumult. It certainly seemed like a triumphant show and Stahlsarg definitely gained some new supporters tonight.

I have seen Inquisition many a time but never with this many people literally rammed in to observe the gruesome twosome’s incantations. Indeed is appears that it is ‘From Chaos They Came’ as fog and grim croakings billow across the stage and Dagon and Incubus literally explode into things. Precision is as ever remarkable from the duo and the energy is immediately conjured, infecting the baying crowd down the front and right through to the back of the venue. Trying to get a picture of the drummer proves impossible even from the side as the pair have some blood red stage lights they have brought with them which look like a bank of anti-aircraft guns. Obscuring the view but adding to the overall intensity. We are taken on a journey to glorify the 3rd member of the band Lucifer with ‘Dark Mutilation Rites.’ It’s a craggy blast from the past and we are taken through plenty of material from the bands career as ‘Ancient Monumental War Hymns’ are summoned from unholy grimoires and the gig takes the form of a gathering of witches and warlocks in my head. Seriously all that is missing is a goats butt to kiss but it’s probably best not to actually go there. More recent numbers such as the ludicrously entitled ‘Vortex From the Celestial Flying Throne of Storms’ cause a vortex in the middle of the dance-floor to open up and in the aftermath some souls are lost forever. Never mind, there is a ‘Desolate Funeral Chant’ coming so we can mourn and celebrate their passing. Inquisition get plenty of time to play a lengthy set which finally culminates with ‘A Magnificent Crypt Of Stars’ leaving mine and no doubt others heads floating in space. What else is there to be said but good luck following that performance (PW)  

After the rather discordant and dissonant Inquisition, the intro tape for “Portrait of a Headless Man” was a soothing balm for the ears as Seth, Christos, Psychon and Krimh waded through the smoke to take their spots on the stage and roar into life. It was immediately apparent that the 4 piece were going to be crushingly heavy and that much louder than the 2 piece that proceeded them. Seth’s deep roar was never a muffled growl as every enunciated word was distinct and as they moved onto “The Vampire from Nazareth”, the crowd were all singing along to the choral accompaniment and swaying to the orchestral melodies while our diaphragms were all rattling with Krimh’s blazing kick drum as it knocked the wind out of us. They followed this with another new track, “Martyr”, which had Christos flinging his dreads around after the slightly slower movements as the triplets of the chorus took over. Heading for ‘Titan’ they presented a “Prototype” where Krimh’s sharp snapping snare could’ve torn eardrums while the rather manic Psychon was constantly in motion on his side of the stage, even during the mellower bridges and jangling clean guitar build ups. The far slower “Pyramid God” had all the heads banging to the steady drumbeat and then the moshing picked up a little as the blast beats kicked in towards the end of the song. As they are touring to promote ‘Codex Omega’ we were graced with another new track in the form of “Enemy of Truth” where the orchestral accompaniment filled out the sound beautifully to give the track the added gravitas and heaviness it needed to make Christos and Psychon’s triplets on their guitars sound even more crushing.

The oldest song of the night was “Communion” which was blasted out with relish and had everyone singing along to the choir and roaring the title during the chorus before heading back to ‘Titan’ from which they bequeathed us “Prometheus” who in turn gave us fire. Speaking of fire, new song “Dante’s Inferno” was soon heating things up as it upped the pace considerably and the moshing was punctuated by a few stage dives. Definitely a fan favourite, as was clearly apparent by the singing along for “Anubis”, even though it did leave us wishing Sotiris was there to do the singing with us rather than only on backing tape. They wrapped things up majestically with “Dark Art” as it flows from heavy to melodic and back without missing a beat thereby taking the sting out of an abrupt ending as it faded into the outro tape before loads of plectrums were handed out to the greedy front row.

Sure, it’s sad Sotiris doesn’t travel outside Greece and they didn’t play anything from ‘Sumerian Daemons’ or earlier albums, but hey, they only had an hour so getting 11 very varied songs from their last 4 albums still goes a little way to sate that need to seeing them perform at the Royal Albert Hall with a full orchestra and choir. (MG)

Review: Marco Gaminara and Pete Woods

Photos: Pete Woods