Black Winter Fest VIII: Nokturnal Mortum
@ Circolo Colony, Brescia
5th December 2015
Review, Nokturnal Mortum photos & videos by Oliver M.
Abhor, Acherontas & Ad Hominem photos by Dawid Krosnia
As you may have noticed in the last months, we at Metal Rules are currently revisiting and reviewing Nokturnal Mortum’s complete discography since the beginning. So it was important for us to cover one of their recent shows at least.
Located in Brescia in Italy, the Circolo Colony welcomed the Ukrainian for the 8th edition of the Black Winter Festival as headliners on Saturday 5th of December 2015.
What a great opportunity for me to see this cult band at last for the first time! This indoor festival has been gathering black metal acts in Italy for a long time now. This year, the bill was far better than it used to be in the past. Nokturnal Mortum were mainly supported by Ad Hominem, Acherontas and Abhor.
I would like to thank the promoters deeply for bringing those fantastic bands to this Black Winter Fest 8. Located in the middle of nowhere, the Circolo Colony is a nice and vast venue that provides excellent sound and good playing conditions. It was therefore impossible not to have a great evening there.
Before the main four hordes came on stage, the audience (very international by the way) had the opportunity to discover a few local bands. Ignotum’s (1.5/5) performance was very dispensable unfortunately. What a waste. Uninspiring riffs, poor vocals, boring songs… I can’t understand how they’ve succeeded in appearing on the bill. Most of people were at the merchandise stands while they were playing. Apart from two photographers, they didn’t catch the attention of anyone, which is not surprising.
Then, the level increased a bit with Veratrum (2.5/5). Their black/death metal is interesting at first sight. They use some clean vocals to make the choruses more catchy and melodic. The result was good for the two first songs but the quality decreased throughout their set due to a lack of inspiration.
Signed at the excellent Italian label ATMF (Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum), Nova (3/5) was a good discovery. They released their first album “Il ritorno” last year and offered an interesting set of raw black metal. Most of the compositions are melodic, well built but the vocals are a bit poor, not very convincing. They’re definitely their weakest point.
Formed in 1995, Skoll (3.5/5) was the first band that conquered the audience during the festival. They’ve done only three albums throughout their long career and are currently signed at the very good German label Ewiges Eis Records. Two members used to play for the great Symphonic black metal horde Opera IX. They have a solid experience on stage and I’ve really enjoyed the epic ambiance of their Pagan/Viking black metal. There were indeed some good atmospheric keyboards. However, their show could have been far better if a few parts weren’t too repetitive.
It has been 8 years since the Abhor coven offered their last dark ceremony until they’ve been announced as support act for this Black Winter Fest 8. Being a big fan of that horde since the release of their third opus “Vehementia”, I was expecting a lot from them.
I strongly recommend you have a look at their last offering “Ritualia Stramonium” released by cult US label Moribund Records in March last year. It’s a masterpiece of Ambient/Melodic black metal art and perhaps their best work to date. They’ve succeeded in forging their own style through the years, characterised by the extensive use of organ and an omnipresent occult atmosphere.
They perfectly delivered seven fascinating songs spanning most of their discography. The organ parts were simply enchanting and created some great satanic ambiances that remind me the Italian Gothic/Horror cinema (Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti, Renato Polselli, etc).
They sound better live than in studio and that’s really a pity they almost don’t do any concerts. They’re definitely one of the best Italian black metal bands of the last 15 years. Basically, if you enjoy Atmospheric black metal (with the ritualistic/esoteric feeling) and old gothic horror films, it’s impossible not to worship Abhor. Amazing!
When I saw the candles, skulls and candelabrums being installed on the stage, I was sure that Acherontas would give a memorable ceremony to their numerous worshippers present that night. It was the first time the Coven came to play in Italy. Around nine months after their incredible show in London, it was a great pleasure for me to see them again.
As always, they wore their nice black scarves, ornamented of occult symbols. It was also interesting to see Dharmakayā (from Obscure Anachronism) as live bassist for this show only. During the soundcheck, it seemed there were some serious technical issues. Indeed, founding member Acherontas V.Priest was constantly asking the sound engineer to correct some problems such as the lack of volume for the vocals, bass and guitars.
Then, those problems persisted throughout their set, with Mr. V.Priest asking the engineer to provide more volume to the instruments several times. From my side, I was in front of the stage and couldn’t notice any sound issues. I confirm the sound was perfect, far better than the one we get during their UK ceremony at the Black Heart (very small venue).
Once again, the Greek masters of Occult black metal gave a fantastic live performance and received some warm acclaim from the crowd. They played their most well-known classics, including the epic “Wampyric Metamorphosis” from their glorious Stutthof years. I think they should have been chosen as main support act instead of Ad Hominem. Anyway, thanks to Acherontas for offering such a magic ceremony!
Ad Hominem (4/5)
Although I appreciate most of their lyrics, I have to say I’ve never been convinced by Ad Hominem’s music until I listen to “Antitheist” recently. Released by legendary label Osmose Productions last year, this fifth album was a good surprise for me as they abandoned the brutal side to focus on melodies.
I’m really happy they’ve changed their black metal style. Indeed, the rock ‘n’ roll touch makes their riffs and choruses more melodic and catchier than before. In my opinion, “Antitheist” is their best work to date by far. Ad Hominem is the band who actually received the warmest acclaim from the crowd that night. That was expected since many fans have travelled from France to support them.
It was a pity Gionata Potenti couldn’t perform drums but that would have been too much for him since he already played with Acherontas. The French brilliantly performed some songs from their last album: “Go Ebola!”, “Antitheist”, “Impaled Muhammad”, “Glory Hole Jesus” and especially “Before You Turn Blue” (the most inspired song they’ve done so far from my point of view) and a few old tracks as well. However, there was still one negative point… As we were in front of the stage, a few fans and I got sprayed with whiskey by vocalist Kaiser Wodhanaz before the beginning of their show. No, I don’t like that.
Nokturnal Mortum (5/5)
To close this Black Winter Fest in apotheosis, it was time for Ukrainian legends Nokturnal Mortum to enslave Brescia with more than one hour of pure Slavonic Heathen black metal art. Knjaz Varggoth and his comrades have always been highly praised for their amazing live performances and their latest show is not an exception.
They’ve been incredible once again. Wearing some excellent prehistoric costumes (it’s good to change from the usual black leather, bullet belts and chains), the Kharkiv horde delivered a fantastic set spanning their recent works mostly. During the last years, I’ve noticed some fans criticized the band for not performing their old classics anymore (from masterpieces such as “Lunar Poetry”, “To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire” and “Nechrist” for example).
It is important that they have to understand some bands need to evolve and change their style/approach. Throughout their career, Nokturnal Mortum have always forged very high-quality compositions despite a few musical and ideological orientation changes. Therefore, we have to accept their choice regarding the setlist. Anyway, there are still some live videos of their old songs on NM’s YouTube channel (for the most nostalgic fans).
The Ukrainian offered an exclusive set for this show and performed three brand new songs taken from the forthcoming album “Verity” and next EP (“Molpha”, “Wolves”, “Eight Days to Spring”). At first glance, these new compositions are very promising and in the same vein as “The Voice of Steel” with the Khors touch (guitarist Jurgis provided some good additional vocals).
I’m really looking forward to their Split CD with Graveland and next releases. They also played two tracks from “Weltanschauung” and an old classic “Kolyada” (from “Goat Horns”). As expected, we had the great pleasure to hear some epic masterpieces from “The Voice of Steel” with that fantastic guitar solo performed perfectly by Jurgis on “Ukraine” (as you can see on the below video).
Great musicianship. Regarding the keyboards, they were of course pre-recorded but this didn’t have any negative impact on their concert since the sound was excellent. I would have loved to see both Saturious and Sataroth on the synths but they won’t come back unfortunately.
Apart from their fatherland, the band has already played in Russia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Italy. It would be great if promoters from other countries could welcome them as well. They fully deserve it!
Slava Nokturnal Mortum!
3. Hailed Be the Heroes
5. Eight Days to Spring
6. The Voice of Steel
8. White Tower
Very special thanks to Dawid Krosnia for allowing us to use his great Abhor, Acherontas and Ad Hominem photos.