With Isole and Ereb Altor
at the Garage, London
6th May 2013
Review by Caitlin Smith
Photos by Graham Hilling
It’s an oddly sunny day outside the garage as we wait for another doom laden offering from Funeral of Mankind promotions. With the most recent success of Doom over London, this company is shaping up to be the one to watch for those who like it dark and depressing.
First to take to the stage that night is Swedish band Isole [3/5]; bringing with them doom-laden riffs and a thundering bass lines. Epic intro music introduced us to four men that descended straight from the mountains; both in music and looks they were straight out of the video game Skyrim.
Delivering a thundering attack from the bass and drums, the sound was almost deafening but undeniably powerful. Splashes from the cymbals pierce through the rumble, joined only by the wailing clean vocals cutting through from the depths. Unusually, all three fronting members took roles in the vocals parts, creating soaring layers of harmony.
Despite the band’s best efforts, their songs were not creating the impact desired. What is sadly starting to become a little too familiar are complaints about the sound upstairs in the garage, and tonight was no exception. The low growls were lost amongst the instruments and large sections of songs melded into an indecipherable barrage of noise.
With their most recent album, ‘Born from Shadows’ released in 2011, the audience have had plenty of time to familiarize themselves with it, and ‘The Lake’ definitely goes down well. Finishing on an old favorite ‘Moonstone’ provided a well-rounded end to their set. Satisfied, the crowd sees them out with approving cries; an enjoyable performance, but it definitely didn’t do justice to the mastery of the band.
If you didn’t know both the support acts, you’d have been forgiven for being confused. Sharing most of the same members, Isole and Ereb Altor [3.5/5] are different tonight only in musical direction. After a quick change, the guys march back onstage to take us on epic Bathory-esk adventures. In contrast to the simple black outfits used in Isole, they return elaborately decorated. With war paint smeared across their faces and battle jackets donned, they are ready to wage sonic warfare on the audience.
Having sorted the sound between sets, Ereb Altor’s songs are a grimy mix of depressive black metal with hints of folk occasionally creeping in. Returning from the gates of Hel, their sound comes directly from the shores of Nastrond itself.
Harsh rasps and unrelenting black metal assaults punctuate slow, doom driven sections. Older songs have a more heavily folk influenced, with clean vocals rising above the mass of doom-drenched melody lines.
Their cover of ‘Twilight of the Gods’ in a tribute to Quorthon was a fitting ending to the set considering how much thy owed to Bathory in influence. So many bands attempt to cover them, and so many bands fail to capture the essence, but tonight Ereb Altor make this song their own. The vocals rise hauntingly over the crowd, who join in, singing along to this masterpiece. With such a striking performance, the band have proved they too have earned their place in Valhallah that night, although having taken both the support slots, we were left wondering if they were coming back to play Forgotten Tombs set for them.
Looks can be deceiving, but don’t let them fool you. Forgotten tomb [5/5] may not look like they’re up to much, but you’d be making a mistake to ignore them. It’s only taken fourteen years for them to reach British soil, but it has definitely been worth the wait.
Coming over six months after their latest release, no one can say that the fans have been anything but patient, and you can feel the energy buzzing as people cram near the front for an up close and personal view of the Italian four-piece. Perhaps it’s appropriate that they begin with the title track of their latest album ‘don’t deliver us from evil’ as we were definitely not in for a tame show that night.
Snarling his way through the set, vocalist Herr Morbid captures the essence of devastation in his voice, and his harsh rasping screams sound like genuine emotional agony. Despite being heavily influenced by black metal, they combine groove-laden and catchy riffs with more traditional harmonies.
Mixing up their newer songs like ‘Derived’ with older classics like ‘Daylight Obsession’ provided a mixed set. As a more personal tome of suicide and depression, the older albums are perhaps better listened to in a solitary darkened room, but the intimacy of the 150 capacity venue meant they still had a spellbinding power. Holding the audience in rapture as the songs unfolded.
Surprisingly, the last song is announced early at half ten, and disappointment and confusion can be clearly seen across the faces of everyone there. Song times at these gigs are rarely short though and Forgotten Tomb had made a valiant effort at fitting as many songs as possible during their set, treating us to six songs in their fifty minute set.
Although I am left emotionally drained by the end, it’s been one of best sets so far this year.
Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another fourteen years to see these guys again!
1. …And Don’t Deliver Us From Evil
5.Spectres Over Venice
6.Disheartenment / Alone / Steal My Corpse