Fen + From the Bogs of Aughiska
at 02 Islington Academy
13th December 2013
Review by Harold Black
Photography by Jo Blackened
It was a cold night in December that felt ready to embrace some inspiring live music in one of London’s best venues – the Islington Academy.
I arrived early to the venue in order to catch the first band From the Bogs of Aughiska, having never seen them before I was anticipating what I was about to witness and soon enough they took to the stage.
The lights went down and two masked Irish men gradualy appeared in dazzling white shirts and black ties.
They started to create some cinematic drone music with the use of some guitar feedback and keyboard/samples looping mysteriously across a captivated audience.
Some stunning visuals projected above them of withering landscapes and scenes of statues and candles amongst the bleak Irish countryside.
Weaved into and amongst the noise of the drones where samples from irish folklore story teller Edmund Lenahin which perhaps added a twist of something deeper to the music.
A while passed into the set and the keyboard player added some live vocals. Some black metal style chanting I started to feel comfortable just as it was time for them to leave the stage…. and the whole audience in a state of wonder……I will definitely be going to see them again…
Next on the menu was London’s Black metal/Post rock outfit – Fen.
These musicians have been playing on the extreme underground scene for a very long time in different bands so I was excited to see the venue fill up in time for their performance.
Within no time at all they started to play their dark entrancement upon us like magical sacred spell.
The trio unleashed a beautiful but harsh landscape upon us, there was no trickery here…this was honest music. Nothing to hide behind.
The kaleidoscopic guitar lines and wavering vocal melodies momentarily turning cold as the dark wandering night accompanied by pounding solid drumming and a tight as hell and energetic bass performance.
Topped off with the occasional dual vocal. You can tell this band has passion about what they are doing and the audience was feeling this too.
Only playing about 5 songs though the whole audience was sent to a bleak place of inspiration.
Headbangers are out tonight and Fen is getting them incredibly warmed up. It could not have been better and it left me thinking that if this style of music was taken more seriously Fen would be right up there….
So it was time for a carnival as Arcturus began to play their madness.
I looked around and noticed everyone in the whole venue with a beaming smile on their face which is quite unique for a metal gig.
You had the sense that people were waiting to enjoy themselves to this band for years, in fact it had been 8 years since they performed in London so you could imagine as soon as they started playing there was ecstatic cheering and partying going and some of the audience turning up in masquerade clothing added to the atmosphere.
All the hits where let out tonight including older and newer songs “The chaos Path” seemed the biggest crowd pleaser of the evening and by this time the place was kicking off.
The keyboards where floating on top of quite a guitar heavy mix and Hellhammers solid playing (and beautiful triggers) triumphed as always but it is the unmistakable character and unique voice of Vortex towering over everything like a Jester from another world who was channeling galactic energy, behaving whimsically and mischievously.
“Deception Genisis” seemed to flow like an old favourite and the audience and band where both interlocked into a memorable Happy time capsule. Most were very pleased to hear something old school to finish off the set, a more surreal black metal “Raudt og svart” (Red and black) was wielded out and left the whole community cheering for more.
It becomes clear Arcturus are one of those unique bands that created something instantly recognisable as “Arcturus” they came shipwrecked on this earth from another world and they brought with them the music of the stars!