Kataklysm + Graveworm
@ O2 Academy Islington
October 10, 2017
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Michelle Murphy
Tuesday October 10, Canadian melodic death metal pioneers KATAKLYSM made their triumphant return to UK shores since their appearance on last winter’s Headbangers Ball bill (click here for a review of that concert). Their ongoing ‘A Moment in Time tour’, celebrating the band’s 25th anniversary, is surely a gift to loyal fans over the years, who were treated to their well-renowned early-2000s albums Shadows & Dust and Serenity in Fire in full. Italian cult melodic black metal band GRAVEWORM joined the band at the O2 Academy Islington for what was inevitably to be a night of brutal, melodic madness.
Taking the stage shortly before 20:00, the Italians waste no time. Taking us on a journey through their (also) 25 year long career, we are treated to Graveworm classics such as 2001s “Demonic Dreams” and 2007s “Hateful Design”.
The sound throughout their set is fairly good, although a bit heavy on the bass. Still, axemen Stefan Unterpertinger and Eric Righi’s furious and methodic playing style are easily distinguished from another. Vocalist Stefan Fiori controls the crowd with ease, and manages to sound as ferocious and harsh live as on record.
It’s a shame how few people actually turned up for their set, as the venue is probably only around 1/3 full. The ones who do witness their presence though, are treated to an intense set showcasing immaculate showmanship, nothing short of a perfect opener for what was to come.
Drummer Moe Harringer deserves all the praise in the world for his meticulous job behind the drumset. “Blood, Torture and Death” from 2015s Ascending Hate is well-received among the band’s older material, and presents the band in a perhaps more melodic cloak than their earlier, harsh gothic approach.
“Thank you again, it was awesome to play for you, I hope to see you all next time,” Fiori exclaims as their set is finished, and thus we are left in the hands of tonight’s headliners.
As the clock strikes 21:00, the lights go out and the spoken intro to Kataklysm’s 2002 album Shadows & Dust is heard, before the band takes the stage and kicks into the album’s title track. The four piece are from the very beginning merciless in their execution, and all members seem comfortable and confident in their roles – not so surprising, after 25 years.
Shadows & Dust is performed chronologically in full, but the predictability of their set is certainly no downgrade. The crowd seems into it from the very beginning, and the Academy’s beer-stained floor is treated to an immense circle pit throughout most of Kataklysm’s show. It’s fair to say to several probably went home that day with sore necks and ringing ears.
“We are officially old,” frontman Maurizio Iacono tells the crowd. “This is a special event for the hardcore Kataklysm fans! This song was written 15 years ago, and it’s more relevant now than ever,” he continues, before introducing “Illuminati”.
The chronological structure of their set creates a good flow and pacing, and the crowd seems very pleased with what they are witnessing. “Where the Enemy Sleeps…” is introduced as a song repeatedly requested by fans over the years, while “Face the Face of War” certainly became the highlight of one fan in the crowd, who kept requesting it in between songs.
The album’s strong closer, “Years of Enlightment/Decades in Darkness” ends their first set of the night, and the band leaves the stage for a some twenty minutes, as backdrops are changed and Lemmy’s voice sounds over the PA.
“Ambassador of Pain” from 2004s Serenity in Fire commences the second half of their show, and with a crowd already warmed up and full of energy (consumption of alcoholic beverages might have had a part to play), the band receives a warm welcome as they return.
“As I Slither”, being the only one of tonight’s songs played the last time the band visited London, sounds as good as ever, and works well in the almost cosy atmosphere of the Academy.
“We were drunk in our rehearsal room when we wrote this song,” Iacono says of their zombie-themed “The Night They Returned”. The album’s title track follows, and it is remarked that the band last toured with Graveworm for the tour promoting Serenity of Fire some 12-13 years ago.
The three final songs; “10 Seconds from the End”, “The Tragedy I Preach” and “Under the Bleeding Sun” were performed for the first time ever in the UK, and successfully ends the celebration of the Canadian melodic metal pioneer’s anniversary.
Setlist, first set – Shadows & Dust:
1. In Shadows & Dust
2. Beyond Salvation
4. Chronicles of the Damned
5. Bound in Chains
6. Where the Enemy Sleeps…
7. Centuries (Beneath the Dark Waters)
8. Face the Face of War
9. Years of Enlightment/Decades in Darkness
Setlist, second set – Serenity in Fire:
10. The Ambassador of Pain
11. The Resurrected
12. As I Slither
13. For All Our Sins
14. The Night They Returned
15. Serenity in Fire
16. Blood on the Swans
17. 10 Seconds from the End
18. The Tragedy I Preach
19. Under the Bleeding Sun