@ The Black Heart London
6th December 2013
Review by Ben Spencer
Videos by Jo Blackened
We weren’t meant to be reviewing tonight but seeing as there was such a kick ass bill of Black Metal at the Black Heart tonight, myself and fellow Metal-Rules.com photographer Jo decided to attend some havoc in North London. The anticipation was high as the back road of the venue began to fill out and unfortunately Jo didn’t have her pro-camera with her, so no photos were taken, but she did manage to get some video footage!
With little deliberation, Vehement take up arms on stage and blast their way through with sonic driven guitars and relentless drumming from the offset, conjuring some serious heads nodding along in approval. Surprisingly, despite their name, the band also flex a well measured array of melody and clean vocals as well as some tight sounding guitar hooks.
This is not to say that the band suffer from any commercialised tones within their sound. In fact just about every manifestation of melody is utilized in an eerie and uncomfortable fashion that preludes to something darker and what’s more they do just that as the congregation of metal heads swarming through the doors.
Impressive and technically proficient, Vehement pull no punches when it comes to awakening beast like growls and bursting into flurries of blast beats and solos that push everything forward into that higher realm you’d expect from any decent Black Metal band.
Reign of Perdition
Next up, if ever there were a band who had the right attributes but fell short in execution it would be Reign of Perdition. What started out as an adequate performance became stale very quickly. The trio of musicians were by no means amateur but the constant, build up between guitar riffs and vocal interception became tiresome before long. The singer, whose base skills would certainly not be out of place at any decent Blues jam session misdirected the set into a series of clunky outputs that at times became hard to follow.
Throughout the songs it appeared the bass driven melodies strayed off course during the more softer sections, making it harder for the band to revive to any level of intensity that was needed to redeem them.
Furthermore, their sound lacked depth and any sense of anticipation as one track seemed to bleed seamlessly into another, making you wonder where one ended and another begun.
The drummer was perhaps one of the band’s most valuable assets and certainly maintained some degree of consistency throughout with some gruelling backing vocals to back it up. Some of the guitar riffs had that catchy vibe going back and forth and certainly kept up a solid pace but lacked any memorable variation from one track to the next. In short, this felt like an average set that with some more refinery could serve as something to get excited about.
Half way through the night and everything became amplified with the impressive array of Black Metal savagery and ice cold shrieks of Verdelet, a band whose destructive wake not only pulled every onlooker in but also cranked the adrenaline levels up throughout the room. With Solid drum work and cathartic guitars ploughing endlessly through , this was certainly a high point of the night. Together the face painted quartet’s raw energy remained unyielding, with plenty of interesting of distortion and raspy vocals that remained prevalent throughout.
The drumming was a standout for these guys as the hurricane of pedals blistered their way throughout each song with the full backing of metallic riffs and plenty of harmonics and solos darted through the songs.
What worked about these guys was their ability to constantly build a sense of tension throughout the more atmospheric touches underlying their prowess and their constant drive into that much needed darker terrain that was previously absent from the event.
Colossal in sound and tight in their grip, their quality control over sound is what made them an alluring addition to tonight’s bill that never lost its momentum throughout.
The main support are certainly a band who need no introduction, as ex Akercocke veterans appeared to be one of the crowds most highly anticipated bands as the surrounding space began to fill as each member entered the stage.
After a bit of a ropey start, it appeared that the band struggled to find their feet but once they did they certainly made up for it with some a vast array of tech driven guitars, venomous shrieks and enraged drums.
Musically, what becomes quickly apparent is that Voices are a stand alone band from the others playing. Although equally as ferocious; their unique hybrid of Black and extreme metal knows no bounds and just when you think they can’t possibly make their sound any more infernal than what it already is, they do in fact deliver just that.
‘This Too Shall Pass’ was a perfect example of this, the speedy drumming collided with metallic guitars and soaring growls and some well measured clean vocals wading effortlessly into the mix as the crowd could be seen nodding along in places whilst others appeared to have a that jaw dropped look on their faces.
Instant crowd pleaser, ‘Endless’ also found its way onto their set. After a barricade of drum lashing sweeping across your ears the band waste no time flexing their skills towards the more technical terrain which remained resonate throughout the first half of the song itself. The vocals intercepted with piercing clarity and drive the violent tonality forward, whilst the fifth ridden guitars grind away endlessly.
What stood out for these guys most of all, was their distinctive and well harnessed take on Black Metal and for those looking for something that is both refreshing and exhilarating then their sound may be the right direction to turn towards.
However, certain tracks did feel strained in places and the performance itself seemed to get better as their set progressed. Whilst they may not have been up to everyone’s taste, one thing was for sure they were most definitely a memorable band whose musical formidable skills are top notch and who are wholly deserving of playing bigger venues at their own head line show. Keep an eye on these guys for some serious carnage in the future.
Having witnessed an already impressive line up so far, Hecate Enthroned assume positions on stage and are ready to raise the bar higher than any of the previous bands tonight. Without delay or loss of momentum their demonic sound reverberates violently from start to finish.
The majestic sounding ‘Upon a Kingdom Throne’ kicks in with deep snarling vocals, galloping drums and a strong symphonic undercurrent. Fully charged guitars race ahead, keeping the pace of the track as vibrant as ever and set pulses racing as the band are met by a dark lit stream of raised fists.
The blistering shrieks of ‘The Slaughter of Innocence’ remains as strong contender for their best track. With an ice cold chill, the banshee wails pervade throughout, with some an impressive array of keys and guitar work.
The band also showcase touches of melodic grandeur as the keyboards and spoken dialogue add depth to their more turbulent nature. However, the band never stray too far from the chaotic maelstrom that sucked the crowded venue in and who all suddenly appeared far more alert and receptive to these guys than any of the former musicians on stage, making it understandable why they were headlining tonight’s show.
Closing off with ‘An Ode For a Haunted Wood’ the slow drum build up, served as a worthy tool to conjure everyone closer together as they keyboards leaked in with downbeat riffs and a foreboding sense of chaos. Before long, the vocals erupted in full force releasing a destructive sound of throat bleeding screams, droning guitar work and pulsating drums. The well transitioned vocals were well balanced and certainly gave them an extra layer of bleakness.
Matching everything together with a near flawless performance and consistency in sound marked this as a black metal performance of the highest order. Their stage presence and sheer bravado made them inescapably captivating and for those unaccustomed to their sound will no doubt will walk away from tonight with and endeavour to discover more about them.
Tonight displayed an interesting blend of underground talent in a genre that saw both the fundamentals and contemporary advances stand firmly together and remind us of why it is such an exciting and vibrant time for Black Metal.
Whilst, some band’s may have been stronger than others, one thing that they all shared was an equal dedication to their forge and it was the affinity between them and the fans that made this a memorable gig for 2013.