Belphegor + Possessed @ Islington Academy, London

Belphegor + Possessed

@ Islington Academy, London

13th December, 2016

Review by Jarod Lawley
Photography by Graham Hilling

With two legends of extreme metal on a co-headlining tour over Europe, what could be heavier?

Belphegor
Belphegor

It promised to be a great night as one of the last metal gigs before Christmas took place.

Some confusion over the doors time meant that at the advertising opening time of 6.30pm  first act of the night Sariola had all but finished their set!

Sariola
Sariola

I was disappointed not to catch a preview of the female fronted extreme metallers, but nevertheless, with four bands to go there was still plenty of time to get my metal fix!

Sariola
Sariola

And it came shortly with From Hell!

The Bay Area horror metallers are a concept band who take influence from all corners of metal. Despite obviously not taking themselves too seriously, they sounded as tight and professional as any opening act around!

From Hell
From Hell

Frontman Sinn was a great entertainer, looking like he just stepped off set filming for Game of Thrones. It was disappointing to see the rest of the band dressed more modestly in just jeans and t shirts however.

From Hell
From Hell

Regardless, they all rocked out with huge grins and obviously loved every minute of their time performing before the London crowd.

From Hell
From Hell

It’s a shame that more hadn’t arrived in time for their set, as this band deserved a bigger audience to listen to their hilariously titled tracks such as ‘Nun with a Gun’.

From Hell
From Hell

They closed with a cover by Sinn’s ‘biggest influence’. When the drum introduction kicked off King Diamond’s ‘Welcome Home’, I was impressed at the vocalist’s ambition in trying to pull this one off live!

From Hell
From Hell

Did he? Well not really, but the whole band displayed a passion for metal and gave the crowd something familiar to headband to – which is always great.

From Hell
From Hell

During the turnaround time, the room filled up a lot more and a group of fans congregated near the front for occult black metallers Absu.

Absu
Absu

Their set was one of two halves. For the opening numbers, vocalist Proscriptor McGovern played drums too, leaving it up to the guitarist and bassist to entertain the crowd.

Absu
Absu

And they did, with flashy rockstar moves and black metal garments that may have been, erm, shrunk in the wash?

Absu
Absu

Things really kicked off however when the frontman stepped out from behind the kit and another member took his place.

Absu
Absu

Still keeping on his headset style mic however, he was free to roam the stage (whilst dodging the drum kit awkwardly placed in the middle) and gesticulate through the lyrics wildly.

Absu
Absu

The band’s passion for their evil art is obvious, and the crowd responded perfectly. I didn’t know the Texan band had such a following here in the UK, but mosh pits were stirred up and chants were raised along with the songs’ most memorable guitar riffs.

Absu
Absu

By the end of their set, showman Proscriptor McGovern looked on top of the world, with his arms stretched out to the adoring crowd. Possessed had a lot to top!

Possessed
Possessed

But with their legendary status and back catalogue of crushing, classic death metal, it was no competition.

Possessed
Possessed

Despite some early technical problems causing a delay of vocalist Jeff Becerra’s entrance to the stage, the band didn’t need to work hard as they launched into ‘Pentagram’ from their classic debut ‘Seven Churches’.

Possessed
Possessed

The security guards had their work cut out, with crowd surfers hurling themselves over the barrier one after another. They band grinned as the atmosphere of an old school death metal show was created inside the 800 capacity club.

Possessed
Possessed

Possessed played a fairly diverse set, even treating us to a new song from an upcoming album, however it was for classics such as ‘The Exorcist’ that the biggest cheers were raised.

Possessed
Possessed

By the end of the hour it was clear why Possessed remain godfathers of the genre to this day, hindered by nothing and still sounding as savage as ever!

Possessed
Possessed

After such riotous reception, Belphegor need to be on top form to maintain the energy.

Belphegor
Belphegor

I wish they had watched Possessed’s set beforehand to get them pumped to be on stage, as tonight the Austrians totally lacked the drive to tear the place apart.

Belphegor
Belphegor

A combination of a poorly paced set-list and depleted enthusiasm from front man Helmuth left me bored by the performance.

Belphegor
Belphegor

Their dry ice, backdrop and stage outfits, not to mention the rotting specimens on stage all looked evil, but the band’s own delivery was totally lack-lustre.

Belphegor
Belphegor

This was the fourth time I’ve seen Belphegor and by far the worst. The band seemed to have lost their enthusiasm for their own music and that was reflected by a more relaxed audience response.

Belphegor
Belphegor

On this co-headling tour, the band took turns to play last, but if Belphegor played like this in every city , then Possessed should have topped the bill every night in my opinion.

Belphegor
Belphegor

It only asserts their position as death metal kings when they come top Absu’s electric performance with such ease. I hope to see them again if they return to London after releasing some new material!

Belphegor
Belphegor

 

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