Varathron + Horna + guests
@ The Dome, London
2nd May 2015
Review, photos & videos by Oliver M.
Six months after the release of “Untrodden Corridors of Hades” through Polish label Agonia Records, Greek legends Varathron gave their first ever UK show in London on Saturday 2nd of May. Their British worshippers have been waiting for them for ages to offer an ancient ceremony on their soil. Despite being the first black metal band to emerge from Greece, they have never achieved fame and commercial success contrary to their friends Rotting Christ. Since they signed with Agonia, they are doing more and more gigs throughout Europe to promote their new fifth album.
Regarding this London concert, they were supported by four other hordes. Three of them (Horna, Tortorum, Fides Inversa) are part of the excellent German label World Terror Committee. Commonly known as W.T.C. Productions, it was founded by Unhold from cult act Absurd. They have released many great assaults such as the last masterpieces of Acherontas for example. They arranged a short European tour (headlined by Horna) for those three hordes, which proved to be very successful. This London gig was the only UK date of that tour. Finally, Grave Miasma had the privilege to be added to the bill. By the way, The Dome is a large and very good venue for extreme metal bands. The sound and atmosphere were simply perfect.
Fides Inversa (4.5/5)
Formed in Rome in 2006, this group of putrefied monks offered one of the best performances of that night, which was very surprising since they were the opening band. Unfortunately for them, the pit wasn’t crowded at all during their fantastic set and it was a shame.
I think the ones who came late at the venue should have many regrets for having missed them. Wearing torn monk’s robes with blood and corpse paint, the Italian delivered some long, powerful black metal compositions that impressed me thanks to a deluge of melodic and highly inspired riffs.
Moreover, they sound better live rather than in studio by far. Indeed, the most striking fact was that they kind of created an occult ambiance on stage that can’t be felt on their studio recordings.
Then, how would have been Fides Inversa’s performance without Gionata Potenti (Frostmoon Eclipse, Acherontas, ex-Ad Hominem/Macabre Omen, etc.)? He proved again that he’s an incredible drummer.
To be honest, this is something I was expecting from him as he already showed his amazing technical skills and great experience during the outstanding Acherontas gig in London in March this year. However, I wasn’t expecting him to sing and play drums at the same time!
His vocals were excellent, alternating sick black metal screams and aggressive clean vocals that were echoing within the venue. Performing extreme metal vocals correctly while being sat is a difficult and crippling task. Congratulations Gionata!
Fides Inversa have released two albums so far: “Hanc Aciem Sola Retundit Virtus (The Algolagnia Divine)” (by cult French label Osmose Productions in 2009) and “Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans” (by W.T.C. last year). Please check their next tour dates regularly as you may have a blast with them!
In terms of ambiance, Tortorum delivered nearly the same occult atmosphere as their mates from Fides. Formed in Bergen five years ago, this young Norwegian trio have released two blasphemous assaults through W.T.C. until now (“Extinctionist” in 2012 and “Katabasis” in 2014).
Wearing also blood and corpse paint, they gave an excellent live performance, full of inspired riffs and haunting melodies. Their compositions don’t have a lot to do with the famous Norwegian black metal style since the founding members (Barghest and Skyggen) are from Great Britain and Poland respectively.
So, don’t expect any so-called “True Norwegian” raw minimalist stuff here. Their black metal is both powerful and a bit technical, encompassing various influences. Wearing a monk’s robe (again!), Barghest has some very good vocals.
In the middle of their set, he spilled a few small bones from his chalice into the pit, in attempt to strengthen the ritualistic side of their dark ceremony. I couldn’t understand how some people picked such small animal bones up and kept them.
Knowing that guitarist Skyggen used to play for cult Polish hordes Thunderbolt and Veles, I wasn’t surprised about Tortorum’s great show in the end, being especially a Veles fan.
Unhold has definitely the skill to find new promising and talented acts from the underground black metal scene. One more band to be checked from W.T.C.’s strong roster!
Grave Miasma (4/5)
At first sight, this London black/death metal act was the weakest element from the bill but I have to acknowledge their set finally slapped me. Founded under the name of Goat Molestör in 2002, this UK horde released a noticeable limited split CD with Necros Christos just prior to changing their name to Grave Miasma in 2006.
Since then, they have released two EPs and one full-length album (“Odori Sepulcrorum”) through German label Sepulchral Voice Records. By the way, guitarist Roland C. also plays for Australian black metal leaders Deströyer 666. Some candles, animal bones and a goat skull were installed right before their appearance on stage.
Showing bloody faces, these experienced musicians impressed me mainly thanks to the unholy atmosphere emanating from their songs.
Y’s vocals are absolutely brilliant and represent the strongest point of their art in my opinion. Grave Miasma delivered a great set of gloomy black/death metal and ended up being the good surprise of this gig. Very promising.
Hailing from the cold lands of Finland, Horna were headlining a short European tour with Fides Inversa and Tortorum as support acts. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t headline this London concert because of Varathron’s presence, which was fair.
However, everybody seemed to be waiting for them impatiently and they ended up being the most acclaimed band of the night by far. As soon as they started playing “Kuoleva Lupaus” (one of their classic songs), the crowd became furious and bewitched by their evil ceremony.
They have been spreading the plague since 1993 and one of the most important Finnish black metal hordes of the last 15 years.
I discovered them right after the release of their fourth blasphemy “Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne” in 2005 and then, they became very popular within the underground scene in France when they signed with Debemur Morti Productions (probably the least interesting French extreme metal label in my opinion).
Of course, they were mainly there to promote their eighth satanic offering “Askel lähempänä Saatanaa” released two years ago by W.T.C. Shatraug and his henchmen offered a fantastic set of raw black metal in the Scandinavian old-school way.
The guitars sounded far better than on their studio recordings and strengthened the unholy atmosphere reigning in the venue. Spellgoth is a very charismatic singer, screaming his demonic incantations in his native language perfectly. Moreover, he progressively got naked throughout the set.
As soon as he removed his pants, the majority of the audience suddenly took photos and videos as many as they could. That was very funny. Horna succeeded in conquering and enslaving London thanks to an astonishing performance. At the end of their black mass, some worshippers couldn’t stop chanting their name and will undoubtedly remember that night for a long time.
To close this diabolic ceremony in apotheosis, it was time for The Dome to welcome the pioneers of the Greek black metal art in the UK for the first time ever. Their worshippers will never forget Varathron’s live performance that night.
Indeed, Stefan Necroabyssious and his horde offered an amazing succession of Hellenic ancient rites as expected. Nowadays, they’re well-known for being the main fathers of the Greek black metal style which is unique and completely different from the Scandinavian one for example.
Mid-tempo drumming (mainly), melodic guitars, ritualistic compositions, warm atmospheric keyboards and Mediterranean occult ambiance are the typical features of the Hellenic black metal sound. Many other local bands (like Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Thou Art Lord, Zemial, etc.) also contributed in forging this great musical genre.
As always, Varathron played some classic songs from their two first albums (“His Majesty at the Swamp” from 1993 & “Walpurgisnacht” from 1995) which are considered as cult masterpieces of black metal music. They also delivered two tracks from their last critically acclaimed opus “Untrodden Corridors of Hades”.
It’s a great pleasure to see that founding member and charismatic vocalist Stefan Necroabyssious hasn’t changed since 1988. He has always been loyal to a style he helped to forge since the beginning.
After various problems regarding labels and line-up during the last decade, I can guarantee they’re definitely back and stronger than ever on stage. What a majestic show! I had the privilege to watch them soundcheck before doors opened and I could already see how good they were. Varathron are still alive after all those years dedicated to pure mystical art. Congratulations!
Thanks to Isengard Promotions for organizing such a great gig.
Special thanks to Unhold from World Terror Committee and Alexandros Antoniou from Macabre Omen.