Typical you decide to come out of hibernation for the 1st gig of the year and we get hit by a blizzard, there must have been a couple of millimetres of snow today but somehow London manages to soldier on. Whilst that is amazing in itself so too is the fact two European bands manage to get here. It is a welcome relief to get into the warmth of the venue and grab a much needed ale.

The first band tonight are from closer to home and Absinthropy from Leamington Spa are an outfit I have caught before just under a year ago supporting Profanatica. It smells nice in here with incense wafting about and a warm red glow from the stage lights as the band explode with a powerful thundering tumult. There is plenty of elements to their music apart from sheer unadulterated turbulence and lush acoustic parts sparkle giving the front rows a slight break from head-banging action. The vocalist seems very much caught up in the action, bellowing his parts along to the more diabolical elements of the music. There are some instrumental flourishes that bordered into post-punk territory at one point and some parts from the guitars and bass reminiscent of The Stooges. One song (and it was a night of no track titles) kind of had a quirky Lifelover jauntiness with some bleak Joy Division like tones as they set about it with a depressive backbone and relentless slashing guitar parts. I guess everyone will have found something a bit different amidst this. It’s bleak and brutal in equal measures, which to me was a great mix. This was an exercise in depressive violence at its best and with new songs aired during the short set I will certainly be keeping a look out for their next release.

The first of the visiting bands Turia from Holland are completely unknown to me. The trio went about setting the stage up with stacks of joss-sticks, a couple of candles and various animal skulls. The necessary indignity of a fire extinguisher was also plumped onto the stage. The venue is suddenly rammed and the lights are dimmed to near darkness apart from the candlelight and the band plough into a fierce and abrasive guitar assault. I expect front-woman T has a really savage voice but from where I was standing on the right stage front away from her it was completely obliterated by the power of guitar and drums. The drummer is a veritable machine and a blur of motion. I should probably have moved to try and find the vocals but was absolutely transfixed by the well co-ordinated instrumental assault watching drummer J thwack the hell out his kit and clatter the cymbals as guitarist O kept up the pace from his end with high velocity shredding. Some absolutely sublime melodic riffs pealed over the top but I wish I could have got some more from the wine-lubricated rasps of the vocalist. Slowing things down to a doomy black mass we are practically toyed with until the sound explodes and claustrophobically smothers us, building up to a powerful conclusion this pretty much flattened me and Turia definitely go on the list of bands to look out for in the future too.

I have to admit I am liking a lot of black metal from Belgium at the moment and the place seems to be a hotbed of interesting acts. Alkerdeel from East Flanders impressed no end in 2016 with last album Lede which I had played again just before the show to get re-acclimatised. There’s no incense with this lot, not that any more was frankly needed and the band have some small strip lights put up to give them a neon kind of hue as they play. I am pretty sure they start off with one of the three part Regardez ses yeux tracks from the album but it doesn’t quite sound the same. Basically things come across more raw and clattery and rather than well produced there is a punk like DIY flavour coming off the stage and it all has a rough intensity about it. Not a bad thing in my book, it’s just slightly unexpected and more organic sounding in this up close and personal environment. The bass definition is huge as is QW’s instrument no real surprise considering the player used to be in Thee Plague Of Gentleman and now also resides in Serpentcult. Vocals are rough and raw to the extent that I wondered if singer Pede is even going to have a voice left by the time they get to the second of these two dates in Nottingham tomorrow. Everything about this feels very much live and in the moment. With some neat free bass type work the genres meld together from black to doom making it seem like blackcore would be a good description and there is a definite Anarcho punk vibe mixed in with it all too. Throwing some bass drone soloing just made things all the more eclectic and then we go into meaty sludge territories just to cap it off. The time flew by and it was a short set but then again it was kind of enough as we had been hit up by so much that had been crammed into it. This was a gig that certainly left me feeling a little bit dizzy as I traipsed out back into the cold night air.

(Pete Woods)