London swelters in the hottest may bank holiday ever but there is a room in Tufnell Park where people wearing far too much black are taking refuge in. It’s grim, ugly and suitably air-conditioned as we get ready for a trio of hideous bands. First up are Taphos a quartet that are meant to be from a wonderful, wonderful place but no doubt they consider Copenhagen as Copenhell. Dead on time they stride on the stage and unleash an angry and savage sound that has them hitting the ground running. It’s definitely time to wake up and we are all well aware that there is going to be little in the way of finesse as far as tonight’s proceedings are concerned. With sledgehammer drumming, gnarly guitar and bass and barking vocals Taphos drive things forward into a headlong tumult that’s deathly and deadly. The sound grinds like a swarm of virulent wasps and attacks with little in the way of remorse. Barks and vomited growls are spot on from vocalist H (yep one of those initialised bands) but he takes a pause to forewarn us of impending debut album ‘Come Ethereal Somberness’ before they assault us with a track from it, galloping away and going hell for leather. The gritty and gnarly sound gets a few banging heads down the front and this lot certainly fit in with the ugly theme of the night as far as their music is concerned. The band may well look young but they play their death the old way, there’s absolutely no modern trappings about their filth and fury. There is a certain subtlety amidst the bludgeoning though and listening carefully there is some definite technicality as they make guitars weep like wailing banshees. A short, sharp but superior set.

There’s no polite way of saying this but Degial pong a bit. There must be some sort of rationing of soap in Uppsala but luckily the audience after taking a deep breath compose themselves and in my case having managed to catch every London performance by them so far it’s something I am used to. It adds a bit to the atmosphere really as the music is putrid enough in its own right and when they launch into ‘Predator Reign’ they really knock us off our feet in more ways than one. That particular album slapped me somewhat silly last year and once getting head around the massive sound billowing out the speakers the intricacies and winding grinding black thrash venomously hone in and strangle like razor-wire. Bathed in red lighting the mist of bloody savagery infects and with the band steaming through things in a maddening flurry it feels like they are trying to possess our very souls. With older songs ‘Swarming’ the guitars sound like pigs being gutted and as they get ready for the next onslaught a doomy weight descends atmospherically before ‘Savage Mutiny’ literally explodes. It’s nothing short of nuclear and unforgiving and the crowd are more than happy to react. ‘Crown Of Fire’ is an apt song for the heat of the day and absolutely scorches with its tsunami of riffs and stop start militaristic break-down. By now most are caught up and banging away like maniacs. Although the songs are clinically delivered there is also a big sense of chaos here, the two forces combining into something really special. This was a set I simply didn’t want to finish but it had to and with the groups Savage Covenant well and truly delivered they culminate with ‘Thousand Spears Impaled’ leaving me nothing short of breathless.

Tough act to follow but no problems for Aura Noir, hardened road dogs with 25 years of history behind them, the Sons of Hades are ready for action. Despite this falling between Desert and Incineration Festivals the turn out is good and with the alcohol having been consumed to combat the heat it is a pretty vocal one too as Aggressor, Apollyon and Blasphemer are welcomed on board. It’s good to see Aggressor slightly more mobile than I last caught them, he has his revolving chair to perch on but seems able to stand, play and growl out for a few minutes at a time too. The material takes on a stripped down feel with the black, metallic punk charge getting people throwing themselves around at the front.

Numbers like Destructor do exactly what they suggest but there is the matter of a new album too and Aura Noire is a banger and one I have been playing a lot so the charge of material like ‘Shades Ablaze’ (yep tonight is definitely fiery) goes down very well indeed. It’s suitably primitive and untouched by time and any wheels of progress, something this lot are not in the slightest concerned about. The tribal thumper is spurred on by Apollyon’s hammer like battery and there’s more than a touch of Venom and Sodom about ‘The One Who Smite and bodies really start to tumble. The drummer takes over the main vocals on ‘Gaping Grave Awaits’ and it rides into glory with a MotorTank flavour and gnarly fury. Burning rubber down the highway 666 we get some great riffing from Blasphemer and even a couple of crowd surfers who can’t contain themselves but thankfully stay away from the stage and causing any further damage to the players. There’s no time to pick a highlight but ‘Deep Tracts Of Hell’ sits comfortably next to new one ‘Demoniac Flow’ and the whole set literally flies by in a blur. London got a B.T.A. that’s black thrash attack in style here tonight and I fell out the venue happy as Larry with a copy of the new album clutched in my hand. Top night!

Review and Photos Pete Woods