Acherontas + Crest of Darkness + Mord’A’Stigmata + Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, London

Acherontas

@ The Black Heart, London

7th February 2015

Review & Videos by Oliver M.

Photography by Jo Blackened
www.facebook.com/Altercarnated.Photography

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

After a successful short tour in France and Switzerland in January 2015, Acherontas offered a dark ceremony in London on Saturday 7th March for the first time ever in the UK. It was a very special event for the Coven (as they nicknamed themselves) as it marked the launch of their new album “Ma-IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)” released by the excellent German black metal label WTC Productions. This fifth opus has received outstanding reviews from the whole international press so far and is already considered as a masterpiece. Thus, it’s not surprising to see that they are doing more and more shows throughout the European continent.

Old Empire Promotions organised this unique ceremony by inviting three other bands which have almost nothing in common with the headliners: Crest of Darkness, Mord’A’Stigmata and Towers of Flesh. It’s important to highlight the fact that the main support act Thaw (experimental black metal horde from Poland) didn’t turn up in London in the end. The promoters told me they decided not to come just one day prior to the gig and that’s all. I have to say it wasn’t really a loss as a mixture of black metal and noise elements wouldn’t have inspired me a lot to be honest.

The concert was delayed by around 30 minutes for some reason and that’s why I couldn’t finish my interview unfortunately with V. Priest, the master of the Coven but it was time for Towers of Flesh (3/5) to start spitting their rage against the audience.

Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden (1)
Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden

I discovered this UK black/death metal act last year at the Candlefest. Their performance was pretty much the same as in 2014.

Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden (1)
Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden

Signed at Candlelight Records, they delivered some good cutting riffs and interesting guitar solos.

Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden (1)
Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden

With its bloody head, the vocalist Jack Welch concentrated his entire energy on stage by jumping everywhere, fidgeting constantly and screaming as loud as he could.

Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden (1)
Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden

He looked totally out of control and it was funny to see him behaving like that for the second time. The songs were all well performed but they’re still showing a big lack of personality.

Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden (1)
Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden

Towers of Flesh sound like any decent blackened death metal act you can find easily in the extreme scene.

Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden
Towers of Flesh @ The Black Heart, Camden

Formed in Birmingham in 2008, they’ve released two albums so far and I’m sure they will improve in the future as they haven’t written so much until now. Let’s wait and see.

I was expecting a lot from Mord’A’Stigmata (3/5) as they’re currently signed at the cult Polish extreme metal label Pagan Records. I’m quite surprised to see that this great label has welcomed them in their roster. Indeed, they usually sign bands playing old-school/traditional stuff, not any recent styles such as post-black metal for instance.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

If you like this subgenre of black metal, you will be automatically convinced by their long compositions.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

Unfortunately for me, their musical approach isn’t my cup of tea and is hardly accessible for the ones who are not into post-rock and avant-garde stuff.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

Nevertheless, some parts were very captivating, especially when Ion was singing.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

His black metal vocals are definitely the strong point of their weird art, but the rest tended to be very boring as they were alternating fast and slow tempos in a too predictable way.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

Since their creation in 2004 in Poland, Mord’A’Stigmata have released three albums and several demos.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

I prefer by far the hordes that Pagan Records used to enroll in the past.

Mord'A'Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden
Mord’A’Stigmata @ The Black Heart, Camden

In my opinion, they have absolutely nothing to do in this label but I would highly recommend them for any fans of post/avant-garde metal in general.

When Crest of Darkness (3.5/5) came on stage, things started to be more interesting and funny! Hailing from the cold lands of Norway, those melodic black/death metal veterans succeeded in conquering the crowd thanks to their catchy songs, nice guitar solos and the charisma of their founding member Ingar Amlien (vocals, bass).

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

It was their first show ever in the UK and they took advantage of the opportunity to launch their new EP “Evil Messiah” released by Italian label My Kingdom Music.

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

I discovered them many years ago in France at the time when Listenable Records used to sign very good bands. “The Ogress” from 1999 remains by far their best album to date and features a guest appearance of their longtime friend Roy Khan (mostly known for being the former vocalist of Kamelot).

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

During their early years, they started to mix symphonic black/death metal with gothic influences and then, reduced considerably the use of keyboards in order to give more emphasis on the guitars. This was clearly a mistake as the quality of their works decreased through the years, which is disappointing.

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

For instance, it was a pity they didn’t add more synths to their current set but fortunately, their performance remained solid thanks to their experience.

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

Despite being 51 years old, Ingar (who used to be part of the progressive power metal act Conception a long time ago and guest musician for both Satyricon and Ark in 1999) is still in very good shape with his raspy vocals.

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

In the beginning, he was almost disguised as a cheesy vampire coming from an old Hammer horror film, wearing the typical black robe available in any Halloween fancy dress shop. Yes, it was cheesy at a point where the blood dripping from his mouth looked like the cheapest tomato sauce we can find at the supermarket. I can tell you it was hilarious to see him on stage and I enjoyed his style.

Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden
Crest of Darkness @ The Black Heart, Camden

That’s what makes the charm of the vintage evil imagery of black metal! Chanting “Hail Satan!” and thanking warmly London several times, he was extremely enthusiastic about being there and even left the stage to perform within the crowd for a very short period.

Crest of Darkness Setlist
Crest of Darkness Setlist

In the end, they received some deserved applause from the audience and I hope to see them back soon.

Then, all the lights turned dark red and a candelabrum was installed in front of the stage. The esoteric ceremony of the Coven could begin…

Wearing black scarves and raising their fist in the air, occult black metal masters Acherontas (4.5/5) enslaved London for one hour with their unique ritualistic art. I was surprised to see their leader V. Priest without any scarf, which was unusual but he still remained very charismatic.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

His vocals are very personal, alternating hateful screams and aggressive clean voices. They resounded like infernal incantations whereas his whispers emanated a mystical aura. Some eerie keyboards were majestically inserted into their inspired compositions to create an ancient Sumerian atmosphere.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

That was absolutely fascinating and represents one of the trademarks of the band since their first masterpiece “Tat Tvam Asi (Universal Omniscience)” released in 2007. Despite being sick with a 38°C temperature, Gionata Potenti (best known for being the drummer of Italian black metallers Frostmoon Eclipse) did a great live performance just like the other musicians including Indra (guitarist of cult Greek black metal act Naer Mataron). They were all impressive!

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

It was a pity that Scorpios Androctonus (one of the two founding members of Crimson Moon) couldn’t join this magical ritual, although being a permanent member of the Coven.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

As I’m a big fan of this cult US melodic black metal legion, it would have been interesting to see how they sound with him. Even though they share this occult musical approach proper to the Hellenic old-school black metal scene, this Athenian horde has succeeded in forging their own style for many years.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

To close this succession of rites in apotheosis, Acherontas came back to their glorious past at the time when they were known as Stutthof.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

It was a pleasure to see they haven’t denied their roots. Thus, they performed two classic Stutthof tracks from their cult masterpiece “And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust…”. “Wampyric Metamorphosis” was very well done but I prefer by far the studio version as some atmospheric synths were omitted here.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

I was a little bit disappointed because keyboards are an important element of Stutthof’s art.

Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden
Acherontas @ The Black Heart, Camden

Regarding “The Horned Moon”, they played a shortened version of that song unfortunately for some reason.

Acherontas Setlist
Acherontas Setlist

Anyway, the Greeks offered an incredible ceremony that their UK worshipers will never forget for sure!

For more complete video songs of Acherontas’ live performance in London, please check the following links:

www.youtube.com/channel/UC9xr7tapUUvL5dM9tEtZeTQ
www.youtube.com/user/Altercarnated/videos

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