Great thing about a gig starting early on a Sunday is that you can actually get there in good time and watch the first band. As the lights dimmed and the intro tape started playing, Bloodbath wandered on stage shrouded in darkness and it appeared as if they were wearing corpse paint and an assortment of different outfits. The rather discordant and weirdly timed “Fleischmann” was first up, and plagued with minor technical issues, as attested to by the accountant in corpse paint, I mean Nick, just before introducing themselves as: “We’re Bloodbath, from Stockholm, Sweden…. Well, I’m from North Yorkshire”, which drew plenty of chuckles from the continually swelling crowd. Picking up the pace and really getting into the swing of things, they threw themselves into “Let the Stillborn Come to Me” before heading into the far more straightforward “So You Die”. The first single from the new album ‘The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn’ had Nick roaring “Bloodicide” while Anders had his guitar wailing away on the leads. I think they introduced the next one as “Outnumbering the Day” which really put Waltteri through his paces on the readily changing drum tempos to go with the myriad of vocals stylings. The wonderfully sedate “Chainsaw Lullaby” had loads of heads bobbing with its catchy tune and memorable chorus, before ending their set with the far slower “Eaten” where Nick’s drawn out roars were well received by the cheering crowd.

Now while I have seen Hatebreed on numerous occasions over the last twenty years, I’m not terribly familiar with their material, but what I am aware of, is their insurmountable energy and the way they feed that into the audience to whip them into a frenzy. As their intro tape played they quickly took up their positions on stage and launched themselves into their first song, and in much the same way, the audience launched into their first circle pit of the night. Stand out songs for me where “As Diehard as They Come” and “I Will Be Heard” where the sharp snare and snappy beat allows you to happily bounce around bumping into everyone around as they do likewise. Owing to the unbridled fury they put into their songs, they need to be concise, but this allows them to showcase their 25-year career by picking from the majority of their repertoire. Putting an end to their set with “Destroy Everything”, they certainly had the audience giving it a go as we weren’t being given the option of having a quiet Sunday night.

The truly amazing thing about Dimmu Borgir is, for a band that is actually playing as fast as they are, they manage to make it sound slow and elegant, in much the same way they sauntered onto the stage in their cowled robes before blasting into “The Unveiling” from new album ‘Eonian’, where the haunting choral vocals float through the billows of smoke. Shagrath, flanked by Silenoz and Galder takes to an “Interdimensional Summit” as Gerlioz adds all the required eerie flair to the song on his keyboard before both guitarists play their blistering leads as the song winds down to the sound of horses and Daray galloping into “The Chosen Legacy” as the pace kicks things into a higher gear. The grandiose sound of the brass instruments on “The Serpentine Offering” give it a depth that may be lost to those of us thrashing in the pit, but it’s ICS Vortex’s recorded vocals that bring everyone to a standstill as we try sing along to his falsetto, which can’t be said when Agnete Kjølsrud’s vocals are played on “Gateways”. The exquisite female vocals crooning out “Dimmu Borgir” bring forth gooseflesh as slow track unfolds and winds its way down your aural canal.

The cowls which had been abandoned by the third song were back briefly for “Council of Wolves and Snakes” as Shagrath pounded a huge drum centre-stage to the tribal chants, before we the gentle chorus had us all swaying side-to-side singing forlornly “We are gods…”. The huge roar that accompanied the distorted staccato sounds of guitars and drums clearly showed that no introduction was necessary for “Puritania”, but it was Shagrath’s roar on the intro to “Indoctrination” that really got things going even when the fast-paced song broke into the piano then string interlude. The symphonic pieces of “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” make me wonder what it would be like to experience them with an orchestra at their disposal as Gerlioz goes mad on the keyboards. I am awoken by “Mourning Palace” on a daily basis, but I usually cancel the alarm before the vocals commence, but this time I was already wide-awake and there would be no stopping the song with a snooze button. And thankfully so, as it was an epic finale. They then threw out some drum vellums and plectrums while “Rite of Passage” played in the background, and then the lengthy wait as the stage was redressed took place.

I have absolutely no idea what was playing during the slideshow of a myriad of artistic depictions of man’s intolerable cruelty to man in battle, but Kreator’s “Choir of the Damned” was most easily discernible before the huge screen dropped and the band kicked in. Unlike Dimmu where they played fast but it felt slow, “Enemy of God” felt as fast as it was, and Sami and Mille’s leads felt even faster over Ventor’s drums. Feeling slow in comparison “Hail to the Hordes” had us all chanting along to the chorus, then watching in awe as Mille then Sami produced their leads sans effort. Heading back to a song that still hasn’t lost its appeal after 3 decades and from the way everyone around me was shouting “Awakening of the Gods”, along with singing the verses. While we’d pretty much figured it out for ourselves by the number of camera’s floating around, Mille informed us that their final night of the tour was being filmed for a DVD before breaking out into “People of the Lie”. Heading for the title track of last year’s album, “Gods of Violence” had the chants of “We. Shall. Kill!” ringing around the Roundhouse before the tolling bell took us into “Satan Is Real” where the choppy rhythm was matched by the rapid drumming.

The brief interlude of “Mars Mantra” gave us a short respite before “Phantom Antichrist” came in full force with Speesy windmilling between Mille and Sami. The rather emotional Mille dedicated “Fallen Brother” to all those now gone, paying particular attention to all those in Motörhead. Brandishing a huge flag and encouraging us to roar the name of the next song, there was much back and forth with him not pleased by the volume used, eliciting more fervour and louder screams of “HATE!”, but finally blitzing into the frantically paced “Flag of Hate” from their début, so long ago. The rather gentle, in comparison, “Phobia” seemed almost a lullaby as we crooned out the chorus over the intricate guitar work. Getting the mosh pit working were the “Hordes of Chaos” as they thrashed about in their chaotic dance. The gentle sounds of “The Patriarch” built up into a rather “Violent Revolution” with the far more violent separating of the room to have everyone rushing into a massive pit for “Pleasure to Kill” leaving everyone, including the band, truly spent. And with “Apocalypticon” being played through the PA, the European Apocalypse Tour came to an end.

REVIEW: Marco Gaminara

PHOTOS: Phil Pountney