Marduk + Ragnarok + Unlight + Azziard
@ The Dome
25 May 2018
Review by Demitri Levantis
Photography by Thomas Saunders
Tonight (25 May) was another fine celebration of extremely good Black Metal to see in the weekend, for several long-lasting bands from the Scandinavian homeland of the genre came to promote some new material.
Swedish veterans Marduk were in London town to promote their new album, ‘Viktoria’, which will be on sale next month. Accompanying them were Ragnarok, a band who started out in Norway in the early days of the genre and have released 8 good albums in their history.
But first on the bill were some fairly new kids on the block from France: Azziard.
These boys seemed full of energy and pumped up as they began their delightfully ferocious set.
Azziard fuse classic black metal with typical death metal themes like war and nihilism, and delivered their set in a way I could liken to a lot of early black metal bands.
Vocalist ASA reminded me a bit of Darkthrone’s Fenriz by his rather trancing movements as he yelled and screamed number after number. Whilst not an atmospheric act, Azziard gained full approval of the swelling crowd by creating that eeriness which only black metal can do.
It was a pleasure seeing such a good band open up the night, so many a gig-goer was left ready for what was to come next.
And before we go any further, it should be noted that one band on this gig’s bill was pulled following a series of complaints. This band, Infernal War, were said to have connections with the far right and national socialist black metal.
This understandably disappointed some fans and the Dome issued the following statement:
“Today we were made aware of the message and imagery that the band Infernal War, who were due to support Marduk here on Friday, attach to their music. After speaking to the promoter and other parties today, the joint decision has been made to remove the band from the bill. We do not condone hate speech, we don’t ever want our venue to serve as a platform for it, and we can only apologise for not doing our due diligence sooner so that we could have addressed this at an earlier date. Thank you to anyone who has brought this to our attention today.”
With that said, Infernal War didn’t appear this night, so the night was to carry on in the hands of German outfit: Unlight.
There was something about this group that screamed at me: old school.
It was most likely the typical black metal outfit of tight jeans, bullet belts, corpse paint and gauntlets – a look that hasn’t vanished from the scene, and I don’t expect to anytime soon.
But with the very versatile range of black metal sub-genres nowadays, it’s good to see guys from outside the homeland carry on the look.
Unlight, rather ironically, lit up the stage and blasted ferociously into their set.
It was a sublime performance of evil put to music, to put it bluntly. Unlight are one of those bands who haven’t been recognised in pioneering Germany’s BM scene, but definitely deserve it.
There were sounds and screams that reminded me of classic Mayhem, some Immortal and early UK black metal like Hecate Enthroned, minus the symphonics.
Jagged, angry and deathly is the best way to put Unlight’s performance, so they made a very lasting impact.
So we’d visited the heart of Europe and now it was time for a taste of the homeland: Ragnarok from Sarpsborg, Norway arrived.
Ragnarok are one of the bands who were there when BM first appeared in that small nation but never quite reached the level of recognition as their peers, but here they were to show us that their skills as musicians were nothing short of amazing.
They’re the kind of band who could blend every song into one long tirade of anger and blood-curdling war cries, and even though I was a bit far from the stage, I could see vocalist Jontho grasping the crowd in the palms of his hands.
Charisma and fixation screamed from the Norwegians as they didn’t slip up in their audible re-enactment of the invasions their Viking ancestors carried out on these green and pleasant shores centuries ago.
Vikings and Scandinavian mythologies are only a small part of Ragnarok’s output, and the amount of war and terror fought with string and drum outnumbered such themes.
Overall a very impressive act. Ragnarok are a band with all the might you’d expect from a classic Norwegian act so it was nice catching a band who’ve been there and still live in evil.
That was it from the fatherland, and now it was the turn of the neighbour to the East.
Marduk, named after a Babylonian deity and one of the first bands to introduce the themes of war and history to the genre, appeared.
Everyone was ready and waiting as this was a much anticipated appearance from one of the fastest bands I’ve ever seen live. All members took to the stage under much applause and cries of support, which died just in time to hear vocalist Mortuus yell ‘Panzer Division Marduk’ at the top of his lungs, and the battle was on.
An army of terror sweeping across a virgin field is how I’d describe the sound of Marduk, and on stage the anger and vicious nature of the songs sprung forth from each member.
Guitarists Morgan and Devo had the blistering grinds of every song tearing a new hole in the ears of everyone in the crowd. Even a string breaking wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of my friends and I, and the band just carried on like the warriors they are.
Much moshing took place, and some of us were swaying from side to side in the outer body exuberance that this lightning-fast and ear-popping sound can do.
It seems nearly 28 years on the road has been good to these Swedes. Every moment of their set was worth coming to London for.
Marduk once again delivered a putridly sublime rendition of Swedish Black Metal at its finest. Hand crafted and matured like a bottle of fine wine.
Come back soon.