There has been plenty to entertain today and firstly we are all amused no end of a certain band of wimps and posers crying and throwing toys out of prams in France. There’s plenty more excitement from those on the train through Wembley flocking up to see Bon Jovi. Thankfully nobody asked if we were going to the show as it might have meant dying of embarrassment. Then across the road from the venue in the mania of a Friday evening in Camden there is a well-known soft drinks manufacturer giving out free sample cans whilst being harangued by a hero with a microphone accusing them of being drug dealers. It’s a relief to get away from it all and into the venue. Tonight a star of quite some repute Mr David Vincent is appearing with new outfit Vltimas less than a couple of months from when he was being Morbid at the same venue. Black clad bodies start filtering in to catch the London based support acts and work off the aggression of a week in the slave mill that is life.

First up and playing their 200th gig are death metal act De Profundis. I’m not sure how many of these shows we have caught ourselves but it is a fair few and always a pleasure. First thing noticeable is the sledgehammer thick sound and bass heavy heft as they brutally hone down and twirl hair (well those that can) in formation. The technical facets start to shine through and vocals are a harrowing roar. They pause for breath and dedicate last album track Godforsaken to the drummer of Verdelet who sadly left us far too young today, it’s a nice touch and a fitting tribute. We are also told of the band’s love of 80’s B-Movies and Stewart Gordon’s Re-animator is apparently the inspiration behind Orgy Of Grotesqueries. They give it life and we all tango unlike a cat with a broken back. Vocalist Craig seems fairly chatty tonight and informs this will be the last time we see the band for a while as the studio and recording of album number 6 beckons. I guess we can cope with that and wait and see patiently what that brings. Tonight was a fine deathly display and one that fitted in very well with what was to come from the headliners later.

I know I often moan when a death metal band end up playing a black metal gig but tonight it’s kind of the other way round and I’m not complaining in the slightest that Fen are next up. They have a stand in drummer tonight Craven Idol’s JG as Havenless is unavailable. Apart from that as we are charged by the stop / start melodic precision of Exile’s Journey, it is business as usual and it has to be said the drummer does an excellent job as far as those watching the show are concerned. The explosive and rugged nature of atmospheric black metal in these hands is second to none and it is a case of losing ourselves amongst the epic display. At the front the brothers Allain take opposite sides of the stage and furiously drive things with a vitriolic flair. The red lighting adds to the mood but it is not one that is grim and frostbitten, there is warmth to be found here and it seems to energise the now busier venue. Fen have just been in the studio and recorded their sixth album to be released on Prophecy Productions in the near future. We are treated to a new number tonight ‘Nebula.’ With a near post rock start a splash of clean vocals then turmoil and heaving aggression, there is a lot to take in here including a segment with dream pop sensibilities in an acoustic break. Menhir – Supplicant seems like a good choice as it is Summer solstice and worshipping of ancient relics is what it is all about and again with the yellow stage glow bathing things I couldn’t help being warmed by the glow of the music. The forces seemed to align this evening and Fen’s marshland music was certainly something to worship tonight.

Something Wicked is about to march in and the core trio of Vincent, Rune Erikson and Flo Mounier should need no real introduction. A couple of musicians are also included here to boost Vltimas live sound which was kind of expected and the set-list comprising the whole of the recent album was also exactly what we anticipated. After having played a festival in Denmark this appears to be just the second show for the band and expectations are high. The intro music actually sounded like Australian film composer Brian May and whatever it is it charges the atmosphere. There are a couple of banners on either side of the stage and the musicians take up the space around them. Naturally Dave’s entrance is a flamboyant one and he must be absolutely melting in a full length leather trench coat. I would imagine most here had heard the album and the tracks are performed with a solid and burgeoning power behind them. For me the biggest selling point is Rune’s guitar work which displays the cold ice-laden touch of death harking back to his days in Mayhem. Flo is a monster driving the songs with flattening drumming and Dave seems in good spirits and happy to be here. By Praevalidus people are bouncing around and enjoying themselves.

We had a Menhir earlier and now we get a Monolith, must be something prehistoric in the air. The riffs furiously seethe from this one and the melody bristles and bursts through with Vincent’s elongated roar bringing a smile to the face. At times the lyrical aspects can be a bit hammy especially on this one which is kind of up there with songs like Moonspell’s Vampiria and Type O Negative’s Black No 1 in the cheesy stakes but who is to say you shouldn’t have a certain degree of fun with music like this. We did expect a cover or so and the unmistakable sound of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath have absolutely nobody needing to guess what the song was. I suddenly realised that last show I was at here just a few weeks ago had Christian Death playing exactly the same number. It’s all over in a bit of a flash and before we know it the band are marching off after Marching on. Still that aside I guess Mayhem and Morbid Angel covers were too obvious and although some would have been a nice touch Vltimas did us proud. Next stop I believe is Hellfest but at least they will actually bother playing once they get there!

Review & Photos Pete Woods