Power of Metal.dk Live Review

Location: The Forum, London, England
Date:
10 February, 2014

Bands:
 Behemoth, Cradle of Filth, In Solitude, Inquisition, Svarttjern

 

A number of years ago I worked at ‘The Forum’ with a promoter who organised Sunday afternoons chock-a-full of debauched fun. The programme, which included strip shows, beer drinking contests and other rowdy games was dubbed ‘The Church’ – a name no doubt inspired by the church next door to the venue. Fast forward to last 10th February and the irony of having such a neighbour is still a popular source of mirth. For tonight’s event must surely be the ultimate Black Metal bonanza, a no-brainer for fans of the genre. 

And so, as the rain incessantly fell and clouds lay a widening veil over what little sunlight there was in that part of London, a cold Scandinavian wind was about to cement this ambience of darkness... 

Svarttjern

After having visited the merchandise stand to drool over some Behemoth shirts, I rushed over to the pit to snap a few shots of Svarttjern, tonight’s sole representative of Norwegian Black Metal. 

The show kicked off with a bang but unfortunately after the first couple of numbers the press contingent was faced with a series of bizarre and frustrating security cock-ups. As a result of this, I pretty much missed more than half Svarttjern’s show. It was hard to give a realistic rating and review and, to a certain extent, I decided to give the band the benefit of the doubt. The guitars sounded like a blur from where I was, but I was unable to roam the venue and get a more balanced idea of Svarttjern’s sonic delivery. The drums sounded quite good, though. 

Occasionally Svarttjern reminded me of the inherent limitations of the Black Metal music genre but their stage-act was dynamic and interesting enough to make me wish I could see more. The set showcased all of the band’s repertoire and included ‘Ultimatum Necrophilia’ and ‘Hymns For The Molested’ taken from “Ultimatum Necrophilia” – Svarttjern’s brand new album released only 3 days before the gig.

Set-list:
Upon Human Ending
Breathing Soil
Ultimatum Necrophilia
Hellig Jord
Stillborn Acolyte
Hymns For The Molested
Code Human 

RATING: 73/100


Inquisition

Inquisition are a 2-man band from Colombia and U.S.A. and up until the moment before the band stepped onto the stage I was wondering which session musicians would complete the live formation. No-one, it turned out. ‘The Forum’ is a 2300 capacity venue and its stage is quite large so having two guys fighting for the audience’s approval must have been daunting. 

Nevertheless, the duo gave an admirably strong performance. Some vocal effects were occasionally used to complement the piercing screams and growls of Dagon (vocals and guitar). Inquisition have an interesting take on Black Metal – at times it’s slow and ominous and other times it’s ruthlessly violent. Whatever the situation, the music is always dark and gives the impression of being a sort of requiem for someone sinking slowly but surely though thick quicksand. The drums seem to be an important part of all this and in fact drummer Incubus seemed to be deeply immersed in the performance.

 

A small section of the crowd right in front of the stage seemed to be familiar with the band’s material and lapped up the whole set. Apart from this, though, there was still a relative inertia within the venue. Towards the end, Dagon acknowledged the audience and briefly said something about the band before then introducing the last number. It was nice to hear him try to cultivate some sort of band/audience rapport. 

An altogether engaging performance.

Set-list:
Force of the Floating Tomb
Nefarious Dismal Orations
Command of the Dark Crown
Embraced by the Unholy Powers of Death and Destruction
Those of the Night
Crush of the Jewish Prophet
Astral Path to Supreme Majesties
Infinite Interstellar Genocide/OUTRO 

RATING: 81/100


In Solitude

Before their show started, the members of In Solitude did a quick soundcheck and consequentially sort of blew the impact they could have had when stepping onto the stage to play. As a pre-recorded intro ended, the quintet came on (again) to make the stage their own domain. Proving to be fantastic musicians and innate performers, the band kicked off with an exposition of their recent “Sister” album. By this point the aforementioned security hassles had been ironed out so I was able to enjoy all their show. 

Some hecklers (Black Metal purists?) were heard stoking In Solitude, the only band on the bill not to wear corpsepaint. I had the impression vocalist Pelle ┼hman assimilated his response to these hecklers into the lyrics of the song he was singing. If I’m right, then that was a classy move!

 

At one point Pelle introduced a song, saying “This is a song about killing something that you love”. Suddenly I heard that ear-splitting sound of when one takes a jack out of a guitar while the sound is still full on and Pelle said “That’s it. It’s over.” And the band abruptly left the stage. Later I was told that previous band's ran over their allocated time (and COF certainly needed all the time they could get to assemble all their props on stage…more on that later). Without a doubt that was the most awesome parting comment I’ve ever heard (“…killing something that you love.”). It’s ironic it wasn’t even planned to be that way. At least I don’t think it was. 

In Solitude provided a different musical dimension to the event and although darkness certainly pervades the band’s music, there were a number of occasions where they appeared to be conspicuously out of place tonight. And that’s a pity because their show was tight, excellently delivered and the material was top-notch.

Set-list:
Death Knows Where
Lavender
A Buried Sun
Sister 

RATING: 83/100


Cradle Of Filth

It’s been ages that I’ve wanted to experience a Cradle Of Filth show in the flesh. Although they aren’t a personal favourite, I’ve regularly enjoyed the depth of their music over the years. I notice the drum kit is at the side of the stage, numerous props have sprouted all over the stage, a huge central screen serves as a sort of backdrop (which would show cult horror movie excerpts and band promo-clips during the show)…..all this raises the general anticipation to fever pitch levels. 

Cradle Of Filth’s show turns out to be an enjoyable experience with the band members themselves resembling character actors in some horror movie. Vocalist Dani Filth turns out to be the charismatic frontman I’ve always heard him to be. His singing technique is astounding and nonetheless so when hopping around the stage, even if I did hear him falter on one or two occasions. I was also impressed by the (female backing) vocals of Lindsey Matheson, who doubled up as keyboard player.

 

‘Haunting Shores’ and ‘Nymphetamine’ were particularly well delivered, I thought. I also appreciated inclusion of older material, such as ‘Born In A Burial Gown’ and ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’. Polish guitarist Ashok made a few obvious mistakes but one can hardly hold it against him - he filled in for the temporarily indisposed James McIlroy/Paul Allender at very short notice. Special kudos go to Dani for acknowledging all the bands on the bill and insisting that the audience applauded them all. 

As far as live shows go, Cradle Of Filth are very much benchmarks of pomp and drama within Metaldom…well, at least within the Black Metal genre. And yet I cannot suppress a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that they have also become the Kiss of Black Metal. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is subjective I guess.

Set-list:
Cthulu Dawn
A Dream Of Wolves
Summer Dying Fast
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Beneath The Howling Stars
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Haunting Shores
Nymphetamine
Born In A Burial Gown
Cruelty Bought Thee Orchids
Her Ghost In The Fog
Funeral In Carpathia (encore) 

RATING: 86/100


Behemoth

In English, the word ‘behemoth’ is sometimes used as a metaphor for immensity or for scales of epic proportions. How appropriate! The visual impact of co-headliners Behemoth was majestic but classy…and sometimes downright scary. Not just that, but the quality of musicianship, the performance, the visuals, the sound…..it was all incredible. And the whole package reeked of genuinity. 

Although I particularly like Behemoth’s material that leans towards Death Metal, I never really explored the band’s music in great depth. After tonight, though, this is likely to change. As I expected, the band played a selection of tracks from “The Satanist”, the album Behemoth released only one week before the gig but the set-list was actually representative of all the band’s repertoire. The Polish Metal fans of London were there to enthusiastically support the bands from their motherland, as they always do, and I can’t help but admire them for that. 

To be honest three letters would have sufficed to review Behemoth’s show: ‘Wow!’

 

As the last notes ebbed away and an elated audience dragged itself out, it became clear that this night would not be forgotten in a hurry. All bands fell within the Black Metal category (more or less), but all had something different to offer. And a pair of eyes next door looked on in envy…..

Set-list:
Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel
Ora Pro Nobis
Conquer All
Decade of Therion
Intro + As Above So Below
Slaves Shall Serve
Christians to the Lions
Hidden In A For / Driven
The Satanist
Ov Fire and the Void
Furor Divinus
Alas, Lord is upon me
At The Left Hand ov God
Chant of the Eastern Lands
O Father, O Satan, O Sun 

RATING: 100/100

All photos (except poster) by Chris Galea.

Attending: Chris Galea

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