The Void Dancers MMXIX Tour swings into London on a cold, wet and miserable Tuesday night and I was not sure how well attended it was going to be with so much happening including Taake at this very venue in a couple of evenings. It’s a solid line-up and one has to feel for first band Matterhorn from Switzerland taking the stage at 6.30 to just a handful of punters. Yep they have a mountain to climb but it does not stop the trio coming out all guns blazing and causing a veritable noisy avalanche.
Having only heard them the first time prior to the show their thrashy, speedy approach went down well and like the song itself you could probably call this a ‘Violent Success.’ Slaloming down the Alpine trail with riffs coming fast and furious the gnarly ferocity has more than a touch of bands like Voivod and even Cadaver about it and there’s a technical flair that is both choppy and punishing. As the place gradually gets busier, those in move towards the front summoned by numbers from debut album ‘Crass Cleansing’ such as ‘The Hornhead’ and heads are indeed shaken in response. They only have a scant 30 minutes to impress and do so with what may have been a couple of brand-new songs thrown in for good measure. It was cool catching Matterhorn off-piste and a cracking start to the evening.
Blaze Of Perdition by name but dark as the night on stage. It’s time for the Metal Blade blacker than black Polish act next. We can just about make out the hooded figures as dry ice spreads and a cymbal is cracked, guitars whiplash, drums beat out and craggy vocals fill the cold blue foggy void in front of us. Melodic and enthralling but musically not an immediate fix, this lot are a complicated act and the music twists and turns with no less than 3 guitarists and a bassist, 2 of them sharing vocals, spread out in front of us. Songs are long and the music is mesmerising. ‘Ashes Remain’ from last album ‘Conscious Darkness’ has a dark delicious majesty about it. I am reminded a bit of Dark Fortress here and hell everything about this is dark from the eldritch clamour to the cold blue constant lighting. A new album is set for 2020 called ‘The Harrowing Of Hearts’ and first single from it ‘Transmutation Of Sin’s is aired. The drums pulverise and things are picked up a notch as it flails away with vocals barked out. It even gets a few people finally moving near the front. Walking back from the bar a familiar melody hits and I almost drop my pint in surprise. They are only doing a cover version of Fields Of The Nephilim classic ‘Moonchild,’ a song witnessed many a time live from its originators. I’m not sure whether it’s meant to be fun (Satan forbid) or serious but it brings a smile to my face and kind of makes me think of Atrocity playing the covers game. Fair play to them and big balls for attempting it. I’ll be keeping an eye out for that new album after this.
The hip band on the bill, the crowd pullers? Maybe and although still far from full Bölzer seem to be the draw of the night. There’s not much to look at on the stage just HzR buried behind the drum kit and KzR coordinating everything at the front. It’s probably just as well as they have kept the dark blue lighting of the previous band and the impenetrable darkness that goes with it. The dynamic power and intensity spreads through the crowd and by the time they hit a stride with new EP ‘Lese Majesty’ number ‘A Shepherd in Wolven Skin’ the pair are really rocking. The drumming is rigorous and powerful, vocals echo, the clean parts harmoniously nailing us to the spot and ugly roars leaping out the speakers and shaking us to the core. All the time the jagged rifferama rains down with skewed melodicism an exercise in finesse that is carried over from recorded output to the stage perfectly. Early number C.M.E. is perhaps more cavernous and esoteric showing the left-hand path the group have gradually wandered down, the cleaving frenzy to it arcane and somewhat harrowing. However, it seems like the barbed arrows of ‘The Archer’ is the song that the crowd are most comfortable with overpowering and driving us into a near frenzy. Pretty much getting a full hour they keep the adrenaline pumping throughout and there is no denying that after a certain fall from grace of a now unmentionable act, Bölzer are now undoubtably the best duo you are likely to catch on a stage anytime soon.
Talking before the show those of us who remember the Kvohst led Dodheimsgard show at the Fridge all those years ago attested what a weird and wonderful performance it was. That makes the last encounter here in 2016 with the band supporting Secrets Of The Moon all the stranger as they played a show of near raw unbridled punky energy that was far removed from what we expected. I guess the newer line-up at the time had something to do with that but we were not sure what we were going to get tonight. Well for those who did not head to the hills after Bolzer we were struck by a stage set up looking like an 80’s episode of Doctor Who and as the strikingly painted and masked band strode onto stage and burst into ‘Shiva Interfere we were whipped off into a grand old carnival ride that is both creepy and theatrical.
It may strike as ghoulish and complicated as their tracks are on record but led by the ever expressive Vicotnik it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Yes, this was much more in the style that we would have expected and DHG were all set for bending minds and whipping us into a demented frenzy. There is an at times industrial edge especially when new drumming recruit Ø. Myrvoll is left to absolutely blast hellishly and deliver full on unfettered rage. The enhanced line up is spurred on with the guitars of a yellow painted devil from Void and there’s plenty to look at in amazement on the thankfully now lit up stage. Songs come thick and fast battering into each other delivering sonic ‘Sonar Bliss’ and devilry. The band are jolly and beaming away obviously pleased at the reaction they are getting even if the crowd is a bit thin on the ground. Those that are here are quickly spurred into running around like loons creating a messy pit that’s as manic as the music itself.
The weird side of Norway is definitely replicated in the venue and musically its heady and trippy like a psychedelic carnival show. From Ved Buens Ende, to Arcturus, Fleurety and new loons Vulture Industry the musical chaos takes hold and we lap up songs old such as ‘En krig å seire’ and the utter madness of new 15 minute rager ‘Aphelion Void’ Looking at the band who appear like they had crawled out of coffins prior to the show I got an image of the film ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things stuck in my head and couldn’t shift it. The Dead were definitely playing with us here and all that was missing was the smell of decay to go with it. They left the best till near the end and the utter mentalism of ‘Ion Storm’ was probably what many of us were waiting for and we were far from disappointed, as we tried staying upright for it. Time had pretty much run out but an encore was yelled for and with ‘Crystal Spectre’ they obliged before getting back into their coffins on the space ship parked outside and heading to the next stop in Antwerp.
Review and Photos Pete Woods