Nile @ The Garage, London

For once The Garage in London isn’t shoving the death metal devoted into the tiny upstairs area but this doesn’t stop the gig ending in blood, sweat and beers. Opening the night are Belgian deathsters Pestifer, who seem pretty unknown tonight. For those out early, it’s a showcase of tidy yet uninspiring tech death that does little to wake up the crowd and despite groovy breakdowns and vague stage presence, it’s unlikely Pestifer will be a band Googled profusely after the show.

Luckily Svart Crown have far more power behind them, as they blast into their eerie blackened death that may not sit pretty on this bill but is lapped up almost instantly. The four-piece from France feel monolithic from the stage, as they proof they still have it in the form of new tracks ‘In Utero’ and title track ‘Profane’, blasting immaculate yet sinister melodies amongst the chaos. Despite their darker approach to brutality, the band seem to have won over genre elitists tonight and rightly so.

Kataklysm’s “side project” Ex-Deo are certainly starting to make their own name, especially after a strong set at this year’s Bloodstock festival. With themes as strong as Nile’s Egyptian love affair, the death metallers death metal is smothered with Roman mythology and thus has an epic presence live. The guitar is a little low in the mix but with armour intact and heavy melodies galore, the band still prove their worth on this line up.

US veterans Nile have their loyal followers in tow before they’ve even played a note and it isn’t long until temperatures akin to their worshipped desert land are reached. Mosh pits break out for all the classics including ‘Sarcophagus’, Kafir!’ and ‘Lashed To The Slavestick’ and unlike their performing predecessors, the guitar sounds as crunchy and widdly as necessary. ‘The Howling Of The Jinn’ is one of a few songs that are a rarity live but still sound as terrifying as one would hope and although latest offering ‘At The Gates Of Sethu’ was weak in comparison it’s tunes still get some energy from the pit.

As the night draws to a sudden close due to a lack of encore, favourite ‘Black Seeds of Vengeance’ confirms that twenty years in the business has not worn Nile down and the spirit of Ra is still strong across the metal plains.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

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Aborted @ The Garage, London

It seems to be common knowledge that if a death metal show is on at the Garage, you’re going to be crammed into the upstairs of the venue, making for a claustrophobic yet intimate show and ear plugs certainly required. Aborted were last on our shores back in February supporting Vader and if you thought The Underworld show was crazy, you’re in for a treat tonight.

Opening the night is a convenient yet obscure choice in the form of System Divide. Containing three Aborted members, including vocalist Sven and his wife Miri Millman (ex-Orphaned Land), the band are a far cry from the brutality on the rest of the line up with a beauty and the beast approach on the vocals that falls on its head a bit with this audience. Although the band is pumped up and the overall musicianship is strong, the melodeath tracks from debut ‘The Conscious Sedation’ are predictably commercial and lacking in grit.

London’s own Acrania are up next and the evening is swung to the other end of the heavy spectrum. With a sound akin to the likes of Whitechapel, the youngsters slam through their set of standard deathcore with breakdowns galore. With obvious brutal DM influence throughout, it seems this is enough to sway some of the audience who claim to be “anti-core”. The band may dub themselves as “politicore”, which is cringe worthy in itself, but there is nothing overly powerful about their presence other than the obvious.

The last year has seen death metal Brits Dyscarnate flourish under the spotlight, with great support slots, trips around the world and a well-received sophomore full length. Tonight is a perfect example as to why they deserve the attention. With a set similar to their appearance here earlier on in the year supporting Aeon, it explosive from the word go and it’s amazing to see a trio cause such a wonderful racket. Their straight-up death metal has no gimmicks and pummels you through chunky guitars and blistering drumming. ‘The Promethean’ still stands out as a favourite and with a new album on the way; it’ll be interesting to see how much more this band can evolve.

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of 2003’s Goremageddon album, Aborted are back on our shores after supporting the likes of Vader earlier on in the year. Although, the set list is relatively similar to February’s onslaught, the brutal death metallers show they’re suited to intimate venues, as vocalist Sven rabidly wonders the staged like a man possessed. Blending chuggy breakdowns with face-melting speed, the Belgians swoop through favourites such as ‘Origin of Disease’ and ‘Fecal Forgery’. The sound is tight with each piece of the brutality barricading you into its grasp. The crowd isn’t as mad as you expect but this doesn’t stop the night from being a success with the ending the perfectly bloodied cherry on top.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

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Sonne Adam @ Boston Arms, London

Tonight’s one off show at The Boston Arms sees a swelling audience from the doors opening due to a couple of exclusives in this evening’s proceedings. With an ever evolving underground sound thriving in the capital, what better way to start than with homage to OSDM, courtesy of Decrepid. The band fills the stage with Swedish rawness and a slight tinge of crusty grind, with frontman Cris Bassan stomping the stage into the ground like a bald Barney Greenway.

Craven Idol need no introduction for most who reside within London, with a consistent showcase of their blackened thrash on stage in recent years. As always they dominate clad in studs and leather, with buzzsaw riffs and echoing gnarls of hatred consistently pummelling the venue. With such a tight set and influence from legends such as Destroyer 666 or Bathory, we can only hope a full length will soon haunt us with its existence.

The fact that this is Grave Miasma’s only UK show this year is likely to have been a pulling point for many tonight and it soon becomes apparent why. Whilst much of the atmosphere on their EPs is created by an old school production, the murky depths of their blackened death seem to intensify in a live environment. The gloom-riddled guitars and rasps of the occult on the likes of ‘This Tomb Is My Altar’ become almost hypnotic as the set encases you in total darkness.

Sonne Adam’s previous journey to our shores supporting Grave was a show to be reckoned with but their first headline show in London is destined to push into another dimension. As soon as the intensely low riffs of ‘We who Worship The Black’ commence, the crowd are under the Israelis’ spell, with every ounce of evil seeming effortlessly brilliant. Nothing is forced here, with every track from incredible debut ‘Transformation’ sounding as crushing, if not more, than on record. Despite Dahan’s departure last year, the current four piece are meticulously bound with Davidov’s vocals harrowing every ear tunnel within venue. Tonight is a perfect example as to why Sonne Adam’s entrance into the spotlight was such a breath of fresh air for doom death.

Review by Lily Randall

Published in Iron Fist

Sonic Obliteration @ Camden Underworld, May 2013

A 3pm start for an entire day of extreme metal may seem a little extreme in itself and it will be a miracle if everyone leaves with the capability of hearing and walking but fans are eager to accept the challenge. A wide range of local talent is on offer to warm up the crown and provide background drinking music for many with thrashers Axonide starting off the procedures. Grindcore trio Oblivionized get brutal without a bass and slightly more known Brits Bloodshot Dawn bring a more conventional deathly sound into the day.

The slightly manic Unfathomable Ruination blastbeat their way into frenzy, whilst The Last Shot Of War’s deathcore falls on its face with predictable breakdown galore. Rearmed continue the madness with some more brutality but suddenly the break between bands begins to lengthen.

After playing a show in Ireland previously, the remaining three bands are still nowhere to be seen and it develops that their ferry is not going to arrive in time. This unfortunately results in the assaulting sound of Decrepit Birth not being heard tonight, much to our displeasure and many others’ here.

Luckily Cattle Decapitation do a tremendous job of picking up the bad vibes and blasting them out of the venue in a frenzied showdown of death metal done good. Frontman Travis Ryan devours the stage whilst spewing out demented vocals to create the best uneasy listening one could ask for. Latest tracks from ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ get a stellar response and new favourite ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’ causes the biggest mosh pit of the night to explode. Instead of suffering with sea legs, the nastiness is played with a precision so pummelling, they take the band of the night award.

You’d think a band with as much experience as Cryptopsy would be able to follow this performance in their stride but unfortunately their set becomes quite the anti-climax. Despite last year’s self-titled album throwing the band back into the spotlight to some extent, it feels as though the band have lost their bite in general since frontman Lord Worm left. The sound is swamped by double bass and there is an intensity lacking in songs such as ‘Slit Your Guts’ that would normally blow off the roof. Due to this the crowd seem knackered prematurely but its understandable when you take in how much has been displayed today.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

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Kvelertak live @ Electric Ballroom 14/03/2013

With the weather across the UK reaching sub-zero temperatures, what would be more fitting for a midweek gig than a trio of Scandinavian delights? The Electric Ballroom in Camden is quite a step up in size since Kvelertak’s last adventure over here, but the hype around the band’s upcoming album ‘Meir’ has managed to fill it to the brim by the end of the night.

With Kvelertak fusing such an array of influences from various different sub-genres, it was difficult to predict what kind of bands would wake up such a mixture of fans in the audience. Both appear to take a more sludgy approach which seems a little sedate for what’s to come later on in the night but an interesting exhibition of Scandinavian metal nonetheless. The first wakeup call comes in the bizarre form of El Doom & The Born Electric, whose tunes ooze with Clutch-esque tendencies and seventies sleaze. The eclectic nature of their progressive music is topped off by Ole Andreassen’s frontman swagger, cowboy hat and all. And for all those who were in attendance this evening – he is not the father of a Kvelertak member; this was clearly a weird Norwegian banter attempt that fell on its arse.

Truckfighters’ guitar tones swell through the Electric Ballroom like a haze of green smoke, as their stoner rock proves accessible to the majority of spectators here. The Swedes may not be the most charismatic of bands to compete with such a headliner tonight but at least it means everyone can save their energy for when it’s truly needed, which is during Kvelertak’s set.

With a live track record known to knacker you out within minutes, the Norwegian sextet grace the stage pumped up and ready to go, with vocalist Erlend Hjelvik donning the iconic owl head piece. Its shortly removed due to the raw energy on the stage, as all of the members take advantage of a large venue with such contagious enthusiasm that it isn’t long before the crowd is bouncing along to the likes of ‘Mjød’ and ‘Fossegrim’. The tremolo riffs from their blackened edge are the perfectly unique twist to their punk/hardcore sound and it becomes apparent this style will continue to slay as new tracks from anticipated album ‘Meir’ showcase the same fun attitude with tints of grimness. ‘Braune Brenn’ is a prime example, as it has the sing-along chant capability [well, if you know Norwegian that is] and although three guitarists isn’t exactly necessary for the most part, it adds to the live dynamics. The reception closer and favourite ‘Blodtorst’ confirms that Kvelertak are one of few bands that can force a smile from a black metal fan with their party resonance and for that we salute them!

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Interview with Tommy Dahlstrom, Aeon

After releasing the highly-received ‘Aeon’s Black’ last year, there is no rest for the wicked that is Swedish death metallers Aeon. With over a decade of brutality and experience under their belts, the tour Aeon is about to embark on should be easy, however we thought we’d grab vocalist Tommy Dahlström on the first date of the UK leg just in case…

Welcome back to the UK! Tonight is the first night of the tour, so what can we expect form Aeon’s visit this time round?

Well, we’re very glad to be back touring again! We are hoping that the tour will be louder and heavier than before and I think in this venue it will be very loud!

Will we be hearing a lot of latest release ‘Aeon’s Black’?

We are hoping to play quite a few songs from the album but it’s hard as we only have 45 minutes to play tonight. We want to make sure we still have time to play the older songs too but yeah, it is tough with not much time.

The album received a lot of praise as one of the key DM releases of the year. In your opinion what has been your favourite Aeon album?

For me, I cannot choose just one Aeon album. Sometimes I like it to sound very fast and other times I want it to be as heavy as it can be. We are very happy that people liked ‘Aeon’s Black’.

You brought back former drummer Arttu in 2010, and it sounds as though there were never any hard feelings between old and new members. How is the Aeon camp currently?

Everything for us is going very well but Arttu is not with us on this tour. He is expecting his new child so we have Emil Wiksten (Blood Red Throne) with us for this tour. For the album though, having Arttu again was very natural. We are all very close and live near each other so writing is quite easy.

Many have commented on the slower more doomy elements of Aeon’s Black compared to previous releases. Do you think this is something you’ll continue to develop in future work?

Maybe, I don’t know. Zeb (guitar) felt we lacked heasvier songs on the album before ‘Aeon’s Black’ but I feel we did this and people like it. I think we will still play fast because that is what death metal is all about!

You’ve been in the music industry for almost 15 years now. Is touring still as fun and full of partying as it used to be?

Of course it is still fun! We love playing our music to the fans and playing shows is my favourite part of being in a band. As for partying, I know I still try to party like before but we also need our sleep! Some of us are parents now so maybe not the same as before in the band but we still enjoy some beers and have a great time with the other bands.

Sweden has always been hailed as one of the homes of Death Metal. Would you say the scene out there is as strong as ever?

I guess so, you will still see many old bands like us are playing and writing new albums. We have lots of new bands too but some are melodic death metal or other metal. I think other countries are starting to catch up though, like Germany and places like that.

How do you feel about the constant argument between what is and isn’t “death metal”? Do you feel newer bands give it a bad name?

No I don’t think they do. At the end of the day, we all like the same shit. We want to play angry music and sound heavy. Surely this is what matters?

After this tour, what have you got planned?

We are touring with this album as much as we can, with Obscura in Europe.  We are focusing on this for now but maybe some writing can happen on the tour.

Aeon, Dyscarnate, Voice and Ageless Oblivion @ London Garage 2013

The upstairs of the Relentless Garage is a clandestine little cave and as you enter the venue and look at the stage, it seems uncertain as to whether Aeon’s Tommy Dahlström alone will fit on the stage, let alone four bands filled with fury.

Ageless Oblivion manage to squeeze all five members on to the stage to warm up the frostbitten crowd and their British death metal oozes with technicality and progression, the perfect starting point for this evening’s proceedings. With a debut album to showcase, the band does so with energy, despite the lack of space and has confirmed that tonight is going to be loud (seriously, this venue is tinnitus-inducing).

Voices may be a strange choice for a line up compromising of death metal and ignorant hecklers confirm this but this latest London export are more than up for the job of continuing the extremity. The band, which features three former Akercocke members unleash their confusing yet dazzling avant-garde black metal with aggression and atmosphere galore. The constant contrast of clean singing and deadly shrieks, or melodic guitar parts over ferocious blastbeats proves that although the band may still be in development, the experience and musicianship that completes Voices is more than enough to make their debut album and exciting upcoming release.

By now the venue is packed with the queue for the bar (yes, a queue) getting engulfed by the eager troops awaiting home-grown heavyweights Dyscarnate. Despite only consisting of three members, the brutality created by the boys is probably the most cacophonous of the night, with each and every riff sounding chunkier than ever. Last year’s onslaught ‘And So It Came To Pass’ is visited frequently during the set and new favourite ‘The Promethean’ concludes the set with a small but satisfying pit at the front.

The clock is ticking and Aeon finally take to the stage about 20 minutes later than scheduled. The band was only given 45 minutes originally, so the eventual set is unfortunately stripped down immensely. The Swedish squadron are keen to exhibit newbies from the killer ‘Aeons Black’ album and do so with the likes of the title track, which proves to be an atheist’s anthem. They manage to squeeze in some classics, including the deadly ‘Soulburner’ but eight tracks is disappointing when you have been waiting all evening. The space issue comes up again when it causes the legends to lack energy, as they attempt to headbang without getting their hair caught in each other’s’ guitars and it feels as though both band and fans leave half full of their death metal needs.

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