Celtic Frost & Kreator
with Watain and Legion of the Damned
KOKO Camden, London
18th March 2007
Review By HannTu
Pics by Dave Ingham (view his flickr photo album)
Note: Pics were taken on various dates of the UK tour!
My first ‘gig’, so to speak, for Metal-Rules.com started off freezing cold. London has been relatively warm for the past few weeks, but it chose today of all days to hail and snow and bluster while I was standing in line for 2 hours to watch the mighty Kreator at KOKO Camden. Bollocks to that for a start.
That being said, it’s really worth the wait once you get inside. You get your ticket torn nicely, there’s no queues, you can take your time at the cloakroom, choose whatever you want from the merchandise store, buy a beer at the bar, take a slash (‘pee’ for Americans) in the toilet in peace, and most of all, you get to stand right up front. And there’s no better place in the world to be than right up front. Nothing between you and heaven on stage but a steel barrier.
The show started quite promptly at half past 5, due to our extremely stupid and strict licensing laws. The first band was Watain, a black metal band from Sweden. The stage set up was very detailed and atmospheric, with inverted crosses and a doom-gloom backdrop. The band itself was even more of a spectacle. Decked out in the normal outfits of corpse paint (none of your sissy normal corpse paint, this was rotten corpse paint), black leather, enough silver chains and spikes to sink a battleship, etc, but it didn’t stop there. The singer, who really looked like he put in a lot of hours in front of the dressing room mirror, was festooned with dead mice. No, I kid you not. Dead mice. Real or not, I wasn’t anxious to find out either. They played a decent set, with pretty good black metal. The drums were pretty kickass, although the riffs were a bit humdrum. They were very energetic, although the sight was too comical for me to take them seriously. Maybe I’m not black metal enough…Decent band, check them out.
Legion of the Damned
The next band deserves a worthy mention, Legion of the Damned from the Netherlands. I’d never heard of them before, but they really impressed the crowd. It was fitting that they opened for Kreator, since it is obvious who their main influences are. You can hear a lot of the German thrash big 3 in them: Kreator, Sodom and Destruction. I can’t praise them enough, they really rocked the crowd, they were very appreciative of us and we gave it back to them. They are definitely a band to watch out for, very promising indeed. A minor gripe, one I have for Grave Digger and other bands with only one guitarist, is that the aggression of the song is lost when their guitarist gets to his solo bit. But my god, the sledgehammer riffs are pure aggression during the body of the song, the singer barking his lines and the bass and drums never letting up the assault on the ears. A great band to open for the mighty Kreator.
But first we have the old boys from Switzerland, Celtic Frost. Originally a threesome, they are joined on tour by V Santura, former Dark Fortress guitarist. I have to say up front I’m not a big fan of Celtic Frost. Their music has inspired many other musicians (even Nirvana, if you believe Wikipedia), but to me their music has never done anything for me. Perhaps their music has always been a bit far out, a bit left field for me.
First gripe about Celtic Frost is that they take too damn long to appear on stage. Yes, I understand the need for heightening expectations. Yes, tension needs to be built. Yes, the atmosphere and tone has to be set. Yes, yes, yes! But dammit all, you don’t need 10 minutes of synth to build the intro, not especially when the crowd has predominantly come to see Kreator. After the high tempo and energy of the previous two bands, the endless synth noodling brought down the pace somewhat. When they finally appeared on stage, they looked impressive. Martin Eric Ain looked like a monster and his bass looked awesome, and he had on some black Druidic robe. Tom and new boy V Santura both sported Icemans (very cool guitars!). Tom in a black ski cap (sigh), but at least V’s face paint looked very well done. But when they started playing, I was not impressed. “Procreation (Of the Wicked)” isn’t the best song to start off the night on. Slow, plodding, dare I say it, even dull. Thankfully it kicked soon into “Circle of Tyrants” with good riffs and double bass drumming pounding me in my gut. Good ol’ Celtic Frost, service was resumed.
Unfortunately, the pace was again interrupted by the ranting of Martin. Yes, trying to get us into the mood of things (not much trying required, we WERE in the mood already), but seriously, “Do you respect the dead? You should, because we are all soon to be *dramatic pause* dead” and a two minute long speech about “attending mass” – and I’m pretty sure I heard a mention of his mother in there somewhere, but lost what he was trying to say halfway – are not the best ways to keep the flow going. The 15 minute penultimate song “Synagoga Satanae” was quite good with progressions that ebbed and flowed. But close with a downer that is more endless synth noodling, well, I’ve already said what I have to say.
Celtic Frost are good for those who like them, that’s all I can say. As a non-fan, I shouldn’t perhaps criticise, as everyone that I could see was having a good time. Celtic Frost fans might see my criticisms as the whole point of Celtic Frost, but they just don’t do it for me. I had a good time, headbanged along, and generally yelled when told to yell. I don’t intend to damn with faint praise, perhaps a fan of theirs could do more justice to a Celtic Frost gig than I can.
1. Procreation (Of the Wicked)
2. Visions of Mortality
3. Circle of the Tyrants
4. The Usurper
5. Ain Elohim
6. Necromantical Screams
7. Dawn of Meggido
9. Sorrows of the Moon
10. Dethroned Emperor
11. Morbid Tales
12. Into the Crypts of Rays
13. Synagoga Satanae
14. Winter (Outro)
Unlike Celtic Frost, Kreator seemed to want to come on stage pretty quick! Frost’s drum set was dismantled in double quick time, the new drum set was set up and the fancy backdrops and projector screens went up faster than a helium balloon on steroids. Good start!
I have to admit again up front that I am a huge Kreator fan. They remind me of my other favourite band Metallica in more ways than one: the original music that was praised and that created a massive following, the descent or departure from that, the criticism that ensued. But unlike Metallica (who I still idolise by the way, even after “all that”) Kreator have returned to the fold, the prodigal son, the pregnant rebellious teenager coming home to her parents, cheating husband to adulterous wife, forgiven and forgotten. With albums like VIOLENT REVOLUTION and ENEMY OF GOD to take off the bitter taste left by ENDORAMA, who wants to hold a grudge?
Mille and co have lost nothing over the years. Slowing down? Hah! Not a bit of it! Flurrying right hands drilling out razor sharp riffs, the machinegun drums and new boy and guitar hot shot Sami laying down some neat solos. About as perfect as perfect can be. The set list reads like a Best of Kreator, and it was. Old favourites revisited, new ones established. When they pounded out the riff of “Violent Revolution”, it felt as if my head was going to snap off. Paradoxically, it also felt as if it were on the verge of simultaneously imploding and exploding. I have a multi-directional cranium…
Back to the band though, there was nothing wrong and everything right about the performance. Mille sounds as angry as he was back in the day. A lesson to Celtic Frost, here’s how to make a minute long speech and maintain the momentum. Take a leaf out of Mille’s book, his speech introducing “Betrayer”, a vitriolic profanity-laden indictment of government and politics of today. Wonderful, an intellectual subject dressed in a non-intellectual guise!
It’s hard to say anything else about this band. We all know they can rock stadiums or tiny clubs, but their engagement with the audience is the same, anywhere they play. They appreciate us, and we appreciate them. This is the metal band-metal fans relationship, which is possibly quite special and unique in music today. This is after all the joy of the entire genre, and its pinnacle is watching the band you love, through curtains of flying hair and eyelids of sweat, live on stage, skullfucking the shit out of your sorry arse.
1. Intro (The Patriarch)
2. Violent Revolution
3. Pleasure to Kill
4. Some Pain Will Last
5. Enemy of God
6. People of the Lie
7. Europe After The Rain
8. Suicide Terrorist
10. Extreme Aggression
13. Voices of the Dead
14. Reconquering the Throne
15. Impossible Brutality
16. Flag of Hate