As is virtually customary nowadays, I’ve gone and missed the first support due to my accursed employers. This is actually quite regrettable for once, given that the act in question is London’s Dead Beyond Buried, an act who have reached a prominent position in the UKDM underground, although not prominent enough for the promoters of this event to mention them anywhere on Facebook. London’s De Profundis [3/5] were similarly omitted from the event details, and as I enter, they’re getting into the swing of their progressive blackened/death display. Their material alternates between evil, blast and trem-heavy blackened death and off kilter clean parts, evocative of Akercocke’s work. Although they expound quite a unique sound, and all are excellent players, their material does wander a bit at times, leaving some a little bemused at this stylistic disparity. All in all, an energised and virtuosic show, but De Profundis sound like a band who haven’t completely hit their groove as yet.
Moving onto the next in a veritable deluge of support acts, we have Forsaken World[1.5/5], who appear to have plumped for the Dimmu Borgir Tribute approach to wardrobe, with ripped shirts and corpse paint in buckets. Their music follows suit somewhat, consisting predominantly of chugging grooves and faster-paced trem leads. It’s these trem leads, in addition to their image and the reverb doused vocals of disconcertingly androgynous front man Porte Parole which all too often stand between them and mediocrity. Although latter acts are far from conservative, I find myself inwardly cringing somewhat, thinking ‘they’ll look back on this one day and shudder.’
Due to a slight miscalculation, I return to my spot with NYDM legends Immolation [5/5] already in full swing, Ross Dolan (vocals/bass) flinging his knee-length mane around with perilous abandon, and Robert Vigna (lead guitar) giving it an ungodly amount of beans. As they launch into ‘Swarm of Terror’ I feel my feet dragging me irrepressibly forwards where a dynamic pit has already broken out. The manic adulation continues through such career highlights as ‘Majesty In Decay’, ‘Into Everlasting Fire’, ‘Under the Supreme’, and ‘Dawn of Possession’. Although this set list is extensive and represents a fairly broad portion of their back catalogue, it’s worth observing that due to a strict curfew, the set is limited to 40 minutes. This is a crying shame, and I can’t help but think if they’d have just booked fewer support acts it would have been amazing to see a longer set from Immolation.
Despite these limitations, the sound is as good as I’ve ever heard it at this venue, and Immolation’s unique riffing comes through as clear as a bell, albeit lacking that thump-in-the-chest level of volume. Any devotee of live death metal will know how often a band’s sound can end up resembling a troll fart, but not so with Immolation. This is always an advantage, but even more so in their case, as their trademark riffs are to an extent what define their sound, really setting them apart from their contemporaries. In contrast with De Profundis, the dark, heavy, melodic and fast elements of their set are bound together with total fluidity, and nothing sounds tacked on or out of place. Masterful.
Despite tonight’s militantly enforced curfew, Marduk [4/5]’s sound check seems rather prolonged, however as Mortuus and co assume their positions, they sally forth into relentless blast-driven grimness with hellish aplomb. Once more the room is a sea of horns. The set has riffs-aplenty as they run through material spanning their 20 year career, from 1992’s ‘Within the Abyss’ through to newer songs such as ‘Temple of Decay’. Mortuus’ voice seems to fit the older material, originally voiced by his predecessor Legion, although the sound quality seems to have deteriorated despite the lengthy checks, so that the vocals seem to be scrambling for attention somewhat. This seems to be due in equal parts to poor sound, but also Mortuus’ mic technique doesn’t do him any favours at points.
One concern that I had prior to this show was that much of Marduk’s recorded output is fairly similar, in the vein of black metal which favours speed and rawness. Having seen similar acts, such as Gorgoroth play sets of very samey and ultimately pretty boring material, I feared this might be the case with Marduk. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of variety this set had to offer, slowing down for numbers such as ‘Temple of Decay’. Although Lars Broddesson (drums) blasts his way through the better part of the festivities, these slower numbers offset the balls-to-the-wall brutality nicely. In stark contrast to Forsaken World, Marduk ooze evil from every pore of their corpse-painted bodies, and despite their lack of props and their stripped down lineup they manage to avoid sounding one-dimensional and the audience’s attention doesn’t falter.
Although Mortuus’ ireful gaze and the incendiary riffing of Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson (guitar) ignites the room, they fail to match the potency of Immolation’s set. Consequently, I’d certainly recommend Marduk, but Immolation are an absolute must.
De Profundis’ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deprofundistheband/info
Forsaken World’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ForsakenWorld.Music/info
Immolation’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/immolation
Marduk’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Mardukofficial?rf=103120096395104