Infernal Damnation Fest IX
Enthroned, Gorath, Frostmoon Eclipse, Saturnian, Ctulu, Funeral Throne, Rosicrucian, The Furious Horde
Saturday 19 May 2012
@ Camden Underworld, London
Review by James Price
Photography by Jo Blackened
It was a sunny Saturday lunchtime in Camden not the usual setting for a black metal festival. Where they would be more at home in the middle of the night in a frozen forest. There seemed to be a good sized crowd gathering outside the premises, hence this setting didn’t put off the crowd. We had eight bands to look forward to with all different types of black metal and from all different places in the world. It was going to be quite a marathon gig.
Well they were billed as gothic black metal which would suggest softer more melodic music, but to my ears they are harsh black metal with the addition of keyboards.
The band was made up of five people, 4 guys and one female.
The singer was high in confidence for a band this low on the bill, making jokes between songs. However maintaining his harsh black metal vocals whilst telling the jokes. This made for an interesting spectacle.
As one would expect for half two on a Saturday the audience area wasn’t exactly overcrowded, probably only a quarter full, and very quiet.
The audience pretty much static save for a few head nods here and there.
This was no reflection on the band though as their performance was extremely solid, technically perfect and full of energy and power.
A great start to a full day of black metal!
Next was Rosicrucian, an atmospheric black metal band also from the UK.
Probably for me one of the stand out bands of the day, also a five piece band with an extremely confident stage prescence.
The first few songs they started off as a standard black metal band, but half way through they seemed to morph into an epic atmospheric black metal band, including long sections of ambient soundscapes and melody.
With more clean vocals coming from the guitarist to compliment the main vocalists harsh vocals.
Creating an atmosphere not dissimilar to post-black metal masters Alcest. Which anyone familiar to this style will recognise the highest of compliments one can give.
At the moment they are pretty much unknown however I can invisage this band becoming pretty big in the future. A wonderful surprise for a band playing this early in the day.
Funeral Throne, again from the UK here we have a much more meat and potatoes style of black metal, which after the previous bands is a bit of a let down.
Although it must be said it is not the bands fault, they play what is expected of them.
Harsh no thrills black metal; which fits this bill perfectly.
The band is unusually made up of two singers, which gives a very powerful sound musically it is mid paced and heavy black metal.
With no clean singing and giving off a real aura of old school hate. Sound quality is perfect every instrument can be clearly picked out. The crowd is now filling up to half capacity, four songs in and the crowd are really getting into it.
There is even three people head banging (at last). Initially quite dull however by the end firing on all cylinders and pretty impressive. Based on the first three metal bands today, the uk metal scene is in good shape.
Cthulhu from Mexico were fourth to perform, savage four piece old school metal band.
No between some banter these guys are all action.
Playing mid-paced to fast old school black metal, the half full crowd seemed to be enjoying it. This is a sort of band that has come into their own in the live setting however on record probably quite generic and dull.
The lead singer resembles Carl Sanders from Nile in most aspects.
There were also two other back up singers like previous bands giving them a real powerful sound. When they do slow down a bit they evoke a great evil sounding atmosphere, this lack of speed not resulting in a lack of power.
One wishes they would keep this sound as the effect is quite stunning when they take this approach.
The crowd didn’t really react to this band, which was really unfair considering the performance given. However this is still early in the day for the average metal fan.
Back to the UK now with symphonic black metal Saturnian, with a line up of six people and keyboards they really fill up this stage.
Featuring the first female artist of the day, probably quite welcome by the mostly male population of the crowd. This band is all business, no jokes or light hearted banter coming from the front man.
The three quarters full crowd don’t seem to mind though as this band has got the best crowd response so far.
This band is very atmospheric, melodic and savage. They have a real flare for the theatrical twice quoting the statement “THIS IS THE END LONDON”, the level of power they provide one can quite believe them.
A great performance, however one minor quibble is the loss of the females delicate vocals amidst the chaos of the savage music.
Next to hit the stage are old school black metallers Frostmoon Eclipse, the heaviest band of the day so far.
Producing a great powerful wall of sound is almost approaching noise core levels of heaviness.
The front man has an extremely intimidating presence which fits this style of music perfectly.
No jokes or banter but black metal concerts are never hotbeds for deep meaningful chats and witty humour.
The crowd really enjoys this band, and the whole front row are head banging, the crowd seems to really enjoy this harsh performance.
Belguim based progressive black metal band Gorath are the next to stride on stage.
They represent a different, a much more technical side of black metal.
Completely at odds with the previous band and their savage and basic nature.
Depressingly the crowd rather than embracing something a bit different decide to leave on mass and hit the bar. Leaving the crowd only about a quarter full again.
This is a real shame a small closed minded crowd seem to want more of the same instead of a diverse sound scape.
It is their loss the band put on a great performance, ultra technical, precise and also extremely heavy. Showing that intelligence doesn’t need to mean a lack of intensity.
I feel in a different line up this band would get a much better response, but today is not their day because of the old school nature of the audience.
Onto the headliners for today, the mighty Enthroned and the crowd is now at full capacity for this legendary black metal band.
They waste no time in accelerating into their set.
A mix of old and new songs taken from all eras of their career, the newest songs getting as good a reaction as the old.
It is a very tight, technically perfect performance where a powerful evil atmosphere is produced.
The room feeling as hot as the hell they love to sing about, complementing the powerful emotions conveyed by the audience.
Despite all the great performances tonight Enthroned are truly deserving of the spot at the top of the bill. It has been an extremely long day and with lots of alcohol consumed, but Enthroned manage to reignite everyone’s passion and energy levels.
A true testament to their brilliance and technical prowess; a great end to a superb day of unholy metal music consumption!