Portal/Impetuous Ritual/Grave Miasma/Qrixkuor @ Nambucca

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PORTAL with IMPETUOUS RITUAL, GRAVE MIASMA and QRIXKUOR

Nambucca, London

May 31 2015

Review by Ann Sulaiman
Photography Kris T. Therrian

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Having been an interesting name in the Australian metal scene for over ten years, “avant-garde” death metal act Portal picked 2015 as the year where they’d play a few US and UK shows. After hitting Temples Festival in Bristol the other day, they next came to London to play at recently refurbished – though still quite small – venue, Nambucca. As they were to be joined by Grave Miasma, the rest of Impetuous Ritual and Qrixkuor, Sunday night was set to be a grand night for the London scene.

As soon as I got to the venue, Qrixkuor were already up on stage. Despite having just one demo tape under their belt, the foursome were entirely at home while they played. Noted by some of the crowd to  lean towards Revenge and Blasphemy in their sound, they stood tall in their black hoods and leather jackets; a cross between raw black metal riffs and occult death rhythms strumming from the platform in songs ‘Consecration of the Temple’ and ‘Morte Datores’.

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As decent as Qrixkuor were in warming up the crowd, fellow Londoners Grave Miasma shook things up when their turn came. Marking ten years since their debut EP (under previous name Goat Molestör), the band chose to play a special set tonight. Much to the glee of their admirers, this seemed to revigorate the guys, as their music came down with fast, hellish guitar bursts and cymbal blasts. Keeping up filthy momentum, they poured through tracks like ‘Gnosis of the Summon’ and ‘έσχατος’, to earlier fare like ‘Obscure Terror’ and ‘This Tomb Is My Altar’.

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Incense burned, heads banged and fists were raised, in the vicious spirit of occult, metal communion.

This continued, when Australians Impetuous Ritual took to the stage. Decked in loin cloths and arm braces, they did strike an image harking back to black metal’s earlier days. Strong riffs fell from the stage in ‘Despair’ and ‘Unhallowed Ascendance Into Impurity’, and mighty notes filled the venue.

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However, it has to be said that an over packed floor made it difficult to properly see the band! In turn, it meant that not everyone could appreciate the fire in their music, due to such an unfortunate disconnect.

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Soon, after much anticipation, it was time for Portal.

Choosing to slink through the audience to climb up onto the stage during the drum build up, The Curator received a large round of applause while his peers collected themselves behind him.

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One of the most striking things about Portal is their onstage get up. For people not all that familiar with the band, it can be jarring to see two men in black hooded executioner garb and a vocalist dressed as a Renaissance woman in black (with mourning veil to match). However, it’s not difficult to appreciate the atmosphere and aura that this serves, since the sight of The Curator opening the set with muffled growls into the mic stand is as disconcerting as it is surreal. And everyone loved it.

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Static drum syncopation and staccato guitar trills added an extra sinister layer, as if something unholy was waiting to happen right there on the stage. It was along this vein that Portal were able to move seamlessly between their songs, as ‘Swarth’ soon switched to ‘Kilter’, ‘Abysmill’ switched to ‘Glumurphonel’ and so on. In this respect, the band’s set didn’t seem to have either a beginning or an end in the traditional sense of the term, especially as it seemed they didn’t make any breaks whatsoever to show whether they were moving onto a different song or not.

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In itself, this didn’t matter too much, as The Curator was still interesting enough to watch, when he reached out his gloved hands into fists during his more gravelled moments.

Portal (1)Though not everyone will be keen on Portal, owing to their singular sound and black masks; the cheers of the crowd said more about their success that night than any words could.