Bethlehem and Secrets Of The Moon
@ Underworld, London
Monday 1st October 2012
Review by Jesel Gohil
Despite being at The Underworld only 3 days before and but a few cobwebs in my wallet, missing a rare UK performance from Bethlehem wasn’t on my to do list. After the obligatory trip to The Worlds End next door and talking to some guy quite proud of his collection of Cradle of Filth demo cassettes and Darkthrone photo negatives from the graves of the 80s it was time to catch the opening band.
I hadn’t looked them up beforehand, nor had I listened to more than a handful of Negura Bunget Tracks so I had very little idea of what to expect. I arrived just as they were invoking their ethereal, folky soundscape created with several 6 foot long horns (like the ones on the cover of Burzum – Filosofem), keyboards, synth pads, a harpish instrument, and a tsymbaly alongside the usually metal band battalion.
The atmosphere created by the band was incredible; ritualistic, layered and hypnotic with members utilising their multi instrumental talents from clean/harsh vocals, primal percussive sections to very effectively but sparingly used blast sections. To call them progressive black metal wouldn’t give the right impression, they definitely have elements of extreme metal but not quite black but moreso the kind of show you’d just watch and absorb than thrash around in a pit for.
Dordeduh are definitely worth checking out and will be appreciated by lovers of atmospheric metal, folk and ambient and certainly took peoples interest at the gig with a growing crowd minute by minute. Trying to sum them up in a review doesn’t do them justice so ill cut it short, just go and check them out for yourself:
For fans of:
Fen, Burzum, Negura Bunget, Windir etc.
Monday, the grimmest and most miserable day of the week, the perfect platform for Bethlehem (Germany) to present themselves to London. This appears to be the bands first time in the capital, greeted by a sizeable crowd; very impressive considering it is a Monday + the Marduk/Immolation gig was only 2 days ago, but nonetheless the bands cult status since 1991 and anticipation ensured there were rows and rows of people to obscure your view.
Following soundcheck, Bethlehem opened their depressive display by busting out “The Eleventh Commandment” from their debut, awakening the crazy headbangers in the first row itching to move. For those unfamiliar, Bethlehem craft their sound from influenced from black, doom, a bit of sludge, ridden with clean sections and oddly, mostly written by their bassist making a very distinctive sound setting them apart from the generic.
It was great to hear the band playing more of their older songs from Dark Metal, Dictius and Schatten (partial set list below), doing them great justice whilst giving an audience a kick up the ass after remaining quite tame for the opening band.
The vocalist who has been with the band since only 2011 stood out very much; anyone who knows this band will know the incredibly high standard of vocalists they have had across the years, the vocal performance was flawless; delivering the lows and nailing the tortured high shrieks that would make Dani Filth resign. His stage presence was also rather interesting; during clean sections staring into nothingness with a face as if he had been locked in a room for 20 years with the newest Morbid Angel on loop.
In addition, the sound was also fantastic, often at gigs it can be difficult to hear clarity in the guitar riffs but today was spot on; the single guitar was distinct but despite being just one guitar, the sound was still thick. The clean sections particularly sounded EVIL, as if the venue has been transformed into a void of misery.
Overall, a truly fantastic tight as fuck performance and were nice enough to chill with fans at the merch table. A shame they didn’t play for the whole hour they were allocated. Let’s hope the cult metallers make a return soon (a new full length album would also be nice…)
For fans of:
Shining, Hypothermia, Unanimated, Thergothon etc.
Setlist: (only the songs I recognised; not in correct order)
-The eleventh commandment
-Schatten aus der Alexander Welt
-Durch befleckte beruhrung meiner nemesis
-Du sollist dich toten
-Gestern starb ich schon heute
-Tote weisse marder
-Aphel – die schwarze schlange
Secrets of the Moon:
Headliners Secrets of The Moon (Secrets and Bethlehem rotated headline slot gig by gig) also of Germany had the daunting task of following up such a great show from Bethlehem.
In no way was the gig an anti-climax, Secrets dusted the cobwebs off the crowd after 2 relatively slower bands, conjuring pits and sending hair flying. While undoubtedly black metal, progressive elements were weaved into their sound with many long songs, complex structures and outstanding musicianship making them infinitely more interesting to listen to than your average monotonous blast ridden metal but yet still with balls.
The use of 3 vocalists (1 lead and 2 backing) was used to great affectivity especially during choruses
In addition, Secrets had the best stage presence of the night, unmatched by the others in savagery and raw energy made them an entertaining watch.
The only downside of the performance for me was the clarity of sound; being not to familiar with the band (only album I have listed to is Carved in Stigmata Wounds) it was hard to decipher the guitar work at first but gradually improved, but they playing nonetheless was excellent and very tight.
Overall, what a Monday! On the way out I saw one of the members of Dordeduh balancing a stack of 5 kebabs, just thought id slip that in. Check out all of these bands.