You have to wonder if we would have been here if history had been different, if Varg had not killed Euronymous and Necrobutcher had instead (he was going to you know)? Here we are though, just after the release of excellent new album ‘Daemon’ and crowds of black clad hooded figures flock into the ballroom for a night of true Norwegian black metal and errr Texan synthwave.

GosT will certainly surprise a few especially those who have never heard Baalberith’s vicious electronic tumult. The most noticeable thing as two white faced individuals take the stage, one with guitar and the other swinging a mic-stand is Hellhammers drum kit towering above them. Thoughts of the headliners will have to wait now as the duo pile into ‘Relentless Passing’ from new album ‘Valediction’. A pure battering deluge of noise flies out the speaker and those of us pushed down the front and near it are virtually flattened as the huge sampled backbone weaves around the players. It’s incredibly powerful and charges through the venue with the vocals diversifying between hellish screams and clean sweeps giving us a feel of a true merging of BM and EBM. Brooding beats ‘Wrap in Wax’ and we are soulfully told that “Nobody loves you”. I’m afraid I was too busy concentrating on the stage in front of me as we are blinded by white light strobes and flashes to take in how the audience were reacting. I would take it as fans of extremity most are open minded enough to enjoy and get what is going on here. At times there are creepy passages as we take a trip down ‘Genesee Avenue’ where a black gloved killer stalks its victims in a neon playground of torture. Its impossible not to bounce around as we take in horror soundtrack themes and the sort of sounds deriving from early synthpop. ‘Ligature Marks’ are tight around the throat and sinuous beats have us swaying but the barrage of blasts coming from Possessor song ‘Garruth’ prove that Pure Fucking Armageddon can come in various shapes and sizes. GosT steam through as much material as possible in their allotted 30 minutes and the only problem I had was it ended far too quickly. CD purchased so this rave from the grave can carry on.

Last time I witnessed Gaahl’s Wyrd they absolutely tore the venue apart but we are in a different space here tonight. The clean singing is pronounced and Ghosts are Invited in a spellbinding set that oozes maturity rather than anything in the way of past shock rock value. Sure the guitarists and bass player line up and duel off with each other, the frontman still has that 1000 yard stare and there is even a bit of chest beating on stage but it quickly comes clear that what we are watching here resembles more of a séance than an exorcism. Even with the inclusion of Trelldom and Gorgoroth numbers and some drum thumping power and passion billowing off the stage the impetus of new material really raises the spirits in ways we would not have expected a decade ago. Tonight, Gaahl gives his head a baptism of bottled water and not blood and has taken on something of a shamanic air as an orator overseen by massive antlers hanging above the stage. This does in turn make the occasional gargles and throat shredding vocal parts all the more effective when they hit but tonight is as much about the mesmerising qualities of songs such as ‘Carving The Voices’ as it is about anything else. It’s almost as though the front-man is singing the blues. The guitar playing is superb to match and at times a near gothic grandeur spreads making things rich and deliciously devilish. The sound is suitably majestic and this was a powerful performance in many different ways, feeling in essence that we had gone from the 80’s horror of the openers to more sinister and folk horror where strange and sacred rites have been performed.

From here it is time for more horror and Mayhem are the video nasties of the bunch well what do you expect when they have a song called Chainsaw Gutsfuck in their repertoire? Halloween may well be over but nobody told master of ceremonies Attila Csihar. The rest of the band were not dressed up at first but he was wearing a rancid looking cloak, part death ala Ingmar Bergman and part evil crone ala Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. There’s nothing pleasant in the new songs from this lot, they are evil and foul, stifling the atmosphere into thick and cloying dread courtesy of numbers like ‘Falsified And Hated.’ We dip in and out of history and a big surprise is an airing of ‘A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun, Part II’ this declaration of war being most welcome as the vocalist holds bones aloft and gargles away injecting some operatic parts into proceedings. Having seen originator Maniac perform this in the past they both do as formidable a job although perhaps there was less blood and knives this time around.

Of the new stuff ‘Malum’ sticks out and it seems like demons are being invoked as Hellhammer blasts away and Necrobutcher, Teloch and Ghul dig in and churn out their gravid sound. ‘Symbols Of Bloodswords’ takes us in a different direction the electronic elements giving a bit of breathing space from the unrelenting previous claustrophobia. Not that this is far away as The Oath is Invoked and the moon freezes in ghoulish panache, Atilla holding a skull aloft and wearing what seems like an Onibaba like Japanese funeral mask. After a break the rest come back in cloaks and turn the place into a necrotic graveyard, the power and fury of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas being particularly terrifying. Gone are the days this lot gave a short and often shambolic set Sylvester Anfang rolls out during another break and they are back for a final segment of classics. Raw punky and visceral, Atilla has lost his costume and Necrobutcher his shirt. Deathcrush is absolutely punishing and rough with the vocals squawking and piercing everyone’s hearing. Flying into a feral melee the band tear it up using every second of their time to full effect and playing for nearly 90 minutes. TFA indeed! Unlike last recent show here they didn’t play pigs head football tonight and for that I was thankful. Next stop France as this tour rages through Europe throughout November. If it swings through your town miss it at your peril.

Pete Woods