MARDUK w/ BELPHEGOR
@ The Underworld, Camden
26th February 2015
Review by Jarod Lawley
Photography by Jo Blackened
On the back of their very recently released new alum, Frontschwein, Swedish black metal masters Marduk close the UK leg of their extensive tour with a sold out show in London.
Having seen Ethereal (4/5) once before and being very impressed, but having not witnessed them live since the release of their excellent debut, I’m more than excited to see how the new songs translate live.
Due to the early opening time of 6PM, the starting act and first opening band don’t have the largest audience of the night, but their already converted fans manage to fill out the venue’s floor to a decent and sufficient level.
The five piece seem to have to struggle through opener “Devouring The Forsaken”, sounding a bit rusty and off form which concerns me to start off with, but they manage to push through it enough to emerge triumphant, armed with an unusually good sound mix for an opening band; most of which normally have to battle with inaudible vocals or muffled guitar tones.
A track from their earlier days, “Bloodstained Martyr” sounds a step below the rest of their songs, but this still provides old fans a treat, and is a testament to how far the group have come in their, which began way back in 2002.
Naut’s wine drinking and comical face-pulling prove that he’s in a great mood and are rather new habits, whether this was a one off or part of Ethereal’s display now, I’m yet to see!
Their array of mystical lights, smoke machines and mysterious onstage personas mean that the Liverpudlians could easily pass off as band much higher on the bill and they show that they really do deserve to be, as they launch into the popular “Unholy Ungodly” track of their sole latest album.
The band seem not as aggressive as usual tonight, but certainly seem to be enjoying themselves and are pleased to be appearing on another great bill in London, ending the quick set with Opus Aethereum’s closing song, “Waking Death”.
A great start to the evening!
- Devouring the Forsaken
- Overwrite the Archetype
- Bloodstained Martyr
- Psalm of the Deceiver
- Unholy Ungodly
- Waking Death
Perverted black/death metallers Bliss Of Flesh (3.5/5) are a band I’ve not heard previously but seem to be a notch down however, despite being higher up on the poster than the previous band.
The venue manages to fill out as it becomes 7pm and the five piece get on their marks to make an impression to the crowd.
Musically, their sound is distinctly European, and their ferocious guitars rattle the walls of the Underworld and solos wield chaos, but frontman Necurat lacks the charisma and dominance to convince the audience into being converted fans as he headbangs onstage to the sounds that the rest of the band push outwards.
His saving merit is his interesting use of the voice, paying tribute to early Norwegian black metal in a very Attila Csihar way to my mind.
Tracks from records Emaciated Deity and Beati Pauperes Spiritu don’t bewilder anyone in attendance, but do enough to pass the time with their satanic breed of extreme metal.
Belphegor’s (3.5/5) blackened arrival is massively anticipated, as the four piece’s walkout is teased to the crowd with an eerie soundtrack and the unveiling of animal carcasses that decorate the microphone stands on the stage.
The smell of decay doesn’t stink out The Underworld as much as I was excepting (nose plugs were at the ready) but the atmosphere feels ritualistic and demonic, especially for those close to the stage.
The three members who take their place at the front run through the tremolo picked riffs and serial-killer scribble solos, but unfortunately the Austrians never manage to take things up and into the top gear which I’ve seen them previously perform at; a situation not helped by the dodgy sound mix, which only really allows clicky triggered kick drums to reach the crowd properly.
Instead, the quartet seem to be going through the motions, without the sadistic passion you would hope to expect from Belphegor, and Helmuth’s vocals are on notably poor form.
Despite this, the fairly new “Gasmask Terror” is met with a roar of approval from the crowd, and outstretched arms certainly show that whatever effort Belphegor have made tonight, it is appreciated by most.
Long-time champions of the Swedish extreme scene, Marduk (4/5) declare krieg by turning the small stage into a smoky, atmospheric war zone.
Kicking off with title track from their recent thirteenth LP, “Frontschwein”, the four piece sound alarmingly and immaculately tight and precise, which really impresses me.
They appear in classic corpse-paint and half militaristic regalia, and vocalist Mortuus wears his iron cross proudly, seeming to be pleased with the rammed state of tonight’s sold out venue.
Even though I’m far from a huge fan and I am not too familiar with much of their set list, they still manage to engage me fully, with their no-nonsense style of un-repentant black metal.
Looking like spectres, they establish exactly why they reign in their field and have no difficulty in commanding the crowd through their deadly blast of a seven-five minute long set.
For many London black metal fans though, it may feel a little like a case of deja vu, as this spectacle is alarmingly similar to what was given by Marduk just over a year ago, in exactly the same venue with a nearly identical stage show in late 2013.
However, it’s obvious that many are more than happy to go through it all again, as a huge chant for “Marduk!” is raised as the band goes offstage and await calls for an encore.
The set list drifts through the whole discography and offers both old school fans (such as myself) and newer fans plenty to enjoy, accompanied by dark and bewildering lights that run over the stage like Luftwaffe aircraft over London skies.
The violent mosh pit is ongoing as it is barbarous, as the audience thrash around to Marduk’s chaotic blasts, and although the set feels rather one paced, the hour-length seems to be perfect, leaving all contented and hoping for a relatively soon return to England.
This tour only managed to cram in four UK dates, but as Marduk march on throughout Europe, anyone who is considering attending a date in their territory should certainly hesitate no longer and buy themselves a ticket!
It is rare that such a high quality, eclectic mix of extreme metal comrades come together to create a package where there is, as Morgan from Marduk put it himself, “Something there for everyone”.
The Blond Beast
Slay the Nazarene
The Levelling Dust
Into Utter Madness
Burn My Coffin
Intro / The Appearance of Spirits of Darkness
For more videos of this gig, please click here: www.youtube.com/user/Altercarnated/videos