The Dome + Boston Music Rooms, Tufnell Park, London
12-13 May 2018
Review by Thomas James Henry Saunders
Photography by Thomas Saunders & Talie Rose Eigeland
For the third consecutive year now, the most extreme tendrils of the metal spectrum descend upon the Dome & Boston Music Room in the form of Incineration Festival, armed with some truly iconic bands over the 2-day lineup, including the likes of Taake, Rotting Christ, Abbath, Saor, and Master’s Hammer.
Since first emerging as a 1 day festival at London venue the Garage, Incineration quickly grew, due to the extreme music it billed and the large following it soon accumulated, at one point taking over all of Camden across 4 venues on a single day. But with the distance between venues and inevitable clashes of set times, the festival opted to make the move slightly North to the Dome & Boston Music Room, spreading across 2 days and using the dual stage set-up to totally remove any clashes.
Befittingly, the festival begins during a damp, grey lunchtime as the crowd line up earnestly outside before being let loose inside.
First on, to kick off the antics of the weekend are London based black metal outfit Ereskigal, over in the Boston Music Room, or so named Zero Tolerance stage. They are slightly marred at the beginning by starting before many of the crowd are let through security, leading the band playing to only a handful of fans for the first 2 songs. By the third song, however, a larger crowd had found their way toward the stage and had lined the stage for this locally iconic black metal band. They make for a powerful opening act, with Elliot taking the reins as vocalist in blood-soaked & wild-eyed fashion, while being followed closely behind by the more than capable musicianship of the band themselves. Having seen them numerous times, they are always a pleasure to watch on stage and one I’m likely to see again.
Arriving on the main stage of the Dome and with no care for introduction, Midlands-based Misanthropic Existence begin their brutal set of extreme metal. As the title suggests, this band’s thematic is very much in the name and is compounded by the snarling, barking insanity that their vocalist brings to the forefront.
Their set is loud, abrasive and aggressive, which works well toward their desired image, yet as spectator, I felt it all a little tiresome for the 2 pm slot.
Leaving the stage with as much enthusiasm as they did upon entering, Misanthropic Existence are offered a polite applause.
Heading back down to the Zero Tolerance stage, Brighton’s Auri kick into frenzied action with their raw black metal which sounds devastating in this smaller venue. They are well received, which by 2:30 pm standards equates to mild headbanging and a forward facing crowd. The sound is that of early, raw black metal with their frontman letting out an impressive series of roars & screams.
A young act that has only been releasing music since 2016, Auri are impressive in how enjoyable they were to witness, as they really put full amounts of energy into the performance. Perhaps a band to look out for on future blackened circuits. Since as performers alone they certainly put in the effort to be recognized.
Being the first international band of the weekend, Maltese blackened industrial purveyors Martyrium are already in full, angry swing by the time I ascend the steps up to the Dome’s stage.
With vocalist Sandra Misanthrope taking to the stage behind velvet cloak & golden mask, Martyrium is also the first act of the weekend to indulge in the theatrics that black metal has so lovingly clung to throughout the decades of evolution. Beginning their musical path during the 2nd wave of black metal in the 90’s, Martyrium are a seasoned act which truly shows here tonight as they play out their blend of melodic black metal with hints of industrial metal.
The energy from the crowd during this set was enjoyable to be part of, as many were headbanging along to the powerful guitar-work provided by Count Mortem & Sherath, they themselves donned in suitably gothic attire. I certainly enjoyed every song that juddered out from these European heavywieghts of the more modern sounds with black metal.
As the set progresses, Sandra removes her cloak & mask, instead opting to join in with the crowd by headbanging along to the music whilst still screaming out with her impressive vocal range. This only sparks the crowd to become even more involved despite the earliness of the day.
A genuinely enjoyable set full of violent theatrics and extreme metal offerings., They add a large dose of theatricality to the proceedings and as they come to a close, the crowd, including myself, are eager for more of the same.
A totally different type of band up next, over from Northern Ireland, The Crawling smile out across the crowd as they begin their deathened doom dirge. They’re an energetic 3 piece, going straight in for the kill with their crushingly robust songwriting and production.
Despite the serious nature of their music and overall composition, The Crawling are enjoyable as a live act too, as vocalist/guitarist Andy Clarke lunges out at the audience with his guitar in numerous power stances, whilst backing vocalist/bassist Stuart Rainey stares out solemnly, adding his deathened growls to the mix.
As a band, The Crawling offer the most evolved sound on the Zero Tolerance stage tonight, with their well-structured and deafeningly heavy assault that reverberates pleasingly throughout the small space. Suffice to say, after they left the stage, I went in search of earbuds!!
Hailing from Portugal, Analepsy begin their brutal all-senses assault with no need for preamble as their slam death metal speaks more for itself than a simple introduction. Their sound is powerful as they pummel the crowd with the very straightforward death metal with a slam twist.
Vocalist/guitarist Diogo Santana barks furiously toward the bemused crowd, sending out each verse in weaponized form as the hall shakes along to the slamming rhythms and galloping carnage.
Personally, I didn’t find their purely aggressive sound all that appealing, and they did little other than play to make a lasting impression. Still, their fast-paced pelting certainly woke up everyone in the crowd at that awkward 4 pm moment of the day.
Following on from slam-styled band before, South London’s Lunatic Hooker brings out an insane brew of grindcore with loads of character and hammering riffs. Not being a fan of grindcore myself, I was surprised by how genuinely enjoyable Lunatic hooker were to me as a wry smile crept across my face whilst watching them.
Vocalist George is an onstage maniac here tonight, throwing out his vocals with great energy and charm. At one point he even asked so kindly for “a little circle pit, just a little one, if any of you are so inclined”, at which they did indeed mosh.
This five-piece do a strong job here this afternoon, with the whole band bringing an unrelenting ferocity that whips up the crowd in spades as the band urge on the hyperactivity in the crowd which is mirrored back at the band.
They make a good effort at interacting with the crowd, chatting between songs and generally having a really friendly approach which is very much appreciated by the audience here tonight. As they come to a crashing close, the crowd are well exercised and ready for the next round!
Heading back into the Dome and back to the black metal in great Finnish style, out comes the corpse-paint dripping Horna to blast out their sombre sounds. They make for a striking presence immediately before they even engage musically.
Vocalist Spellgoth screams out convincingly across the stage, as he fingers his rosary beads re-purposed with an oversized pentagram whilst grimacing out across the crowd.
Their classic black metal sound works well here, with the crowd piling in to witness this relentless Finnish black metal horde play out their incantations. The mix for this set is noticeably great for Horna, with the bass guitar really shining through and tightly holding it all together, while bassist Hex Inferi keeps the atmosphere decidedly grim as he stares out gravely. The crowd are at their most packed of the night thus far, with plenty of worshippers and headbangers present here inside the Dome.
As they take leave of the stage, it’s felt cleary by all in attendance that Horna have been the highlight of the night so far.
Next on tonight are Norway’s enthusiastic black metallers Endezzma with their progressive, hard rock inspired take on the black metal genre. They take no time in throwing their might out through the audience, letting their frenzied and excitable music be heard by all.
They produce a truly captivating mix here, with a surprisingly groove-laden sound, incorporating a dose of grizzled riffs and melodies between each blackened section. Starting off hidden behind his hooded cowl, frontman Morten Shax gets up close and personnel to many in the front rows, bowing down his head to meet with them whilst growling out his gravelly tones. His demeanour is a potent mix of heartfelt pain and jovial entertainer, whilst all the time screaming out into the night ahead with transfixed stare.
The crowd are a great mess of headbangers here, being led on by the impressive lead guitarist Malphas as he headbangs enthusiastically whilst still looking impeccably grim throughout the set. They also invite the first crowd surfer of the night whom Morten helps back up and tosses back into the crowd.
They’ve been very well received here. Using their unique approach to black metal and well developed live ensemble, Endezzma leave the crowd ecstatically pleased.
After a thorough kicking from two powerful black metal acts, Shropshire’s death/thrash kings Cancer are a peculiar breather in tonight’s mostly grim proceedings. Being proven veterensof their style of old-school death metal. The crowd unsurprisingly go wild, forming a large pit within seconds of their coming on stage and one that barely diminishes throughout their 50-minute set.
Founding member & guitarist/vocalist John Walker leads with his stage presence mix of charm & aggression, being well practised over their 3 decades-spanning career. Their sound is a barrage of thrashing riffs overlaid with a pummeling deathened roar of John’s vocals which has the crowd headbanging along furiously from start to finish without hesitation.
As performers, they are a thrilling band with much to give from their long history on the death and thrash metal circuits.
Being the final performance to take the stage before Taake brings their destructive black metal storm to The Dome would make many a black metal act quiver, yet there is nothing wavering with Netherlands-based Asagraum as they send out their pure black metal carnage with bold enthusiasm.
The band are resplendent in their corpse-painted snarls, with many an inverted crucifix being worn by the imposing band. And with the dinging of their ominous sounding bell, the onslaught begins. Frontwoman and founding member Obscura leads the show with a great soaring scream that many black metal acts should be envious of. Between songs she does well to keep up the ferocity, staring wide-eyed out at the crowd, aghast whilst snarling out the name of each track.
The crowd are seemingly divided on this band, with many standing stock still as they take in the aura of the cacophony ahead of them. For me they’re one of the definite highlights of the night, hammering out a highly impressive raw black metal onslaught full of intricacy and atmosphere. They are sadly hit by technical bugs early on to their set however, as an engineer attempts to fix the connection issues. After the 2nd track, they opt to pause for a brief moment as an amp is swapped out and order is restored. The band don’t allow this to falter their set one bit as they resume just as rage-some as if nothing had happened. As they close for the night, they have certainly ingrained themselves for those who were entranced by their ferocity.
The main stage of The Dome is tightly packed in as I take the climb up, finding everyone lining the stage before any appearance of the reigning black metal juggernaut that is Taake. As the lights dim, the first signs of the members as they stride upon the stage send the crowd wild with anticipation; the front rows become a true crush of bodies.
The ever fierce Hoest is on fine form tonight, allowing his theatrical presence to rule easily over the baying crowd as he sharply assesses the venue before blasting into the opening track “Jernhaand” with dedicated enthusiasm.
As a whole energetic bundle, the band are all masters of their dark arts, with bassist Aindiacha showing off by bathing himself in the stage side LED walls as he glowed in the shifting gradients.
The crowd become instantly engaged with Taake’s iconic black metal, screaming along to Hoest, throwing themselves through the vast pit and, surprisingly for a black metal band, a thick throng of crowd surfers.
My only slight complaint is the exclusion of crowd-pleaser “Myr” with its famous banjo section, which on a regular set of Taake would be the finale. By the end of the set, both band & crowd were washed with thick sweat from their sweltering set.
In my opinion, Taake was the true headline act, not only of the day but also for the entire festival.
3.Hordalands Doedskvad 1
5.Over Bjoergvin graater Himmerik 4
7.Fra Vadested til Vaandesmed
9.Havet i Huset
10.Nattestid ser Porten vid 1
The Zero Tolerance stage is filled to the brim, literally so as security make audience members form a queue as they enact a “one in, one out” policy. Scotland’s Saor begin their ritualistic pagan blackened metal as headliners for the smaller stage.
Having enjoyed seeing them not so long ago, headlining a night at the Nambucca, it was evident that the problems encountered by Asagraum earlier tonight, had only reached deeper into the overall sound design. This leaves them sounding far too based in the mid tones with bursts of distortion and little in the way of any detail in the higher notes. This, together with the stoic nature of the band left the crowd a little rigid throughout this performance although those at the front are still headbanging along energetically.
The vocalist has a good range of deathened tones and uses them well here. The violinist is a great addition and really adds an extra layer of complexity to the band’s sound and overall feeling. Although they play through a solid set, the crowd and myself are left feeling a little less than enthusiastic.
Ending the first night in fine, bombastic fashion is the enigmatic Czech Master’s Hammer, bringing their avant-garde black metal to the UK for the first ever time, despite being a prominent act in the black metal scene over the last few decades. They begin in slightly wobbly fashion, with an engineer running about behind the band furiously plugging things in before bolting off stage again.
Yet this does not douse the flames of their fire one bit, as František “Franta” Štorm rules the stage here in his signature outfit and impressive handle-bar moustache. His style as the frontman is impressive, as is his vocal range which sends shivers throughout the gathered spines of the excited crowd.
Their sound is very well received, with songs such as “Mezi Kpoci” & “Psychoparasit” sounding great here at The Dome. Necrocock is equally impressive on stage tonight, staring out with a wry smile as he thunders through their set. I found the inclusion of two lingerie-clad woman sporting goat’s heads as masks to be a little derivative, although they were only present for the first two songs before retreating to the wing of the stage.
They make for a powerful first foray into the UK tonight, although I felt that the ferocity from the crowd wasn’t as intense as, say, for Taake. Although in their case Taake has been building up a solid live following with their numerous appearances throughout the UK. As Master’s Hammer come to a close for final track “Panushka”, the crowd are suitable tired after a staggering first day of over 8 hours of blisteringly extreme metal. On to Sunday!!
Master’s Hammer setlist:
8.Ve Vezi Ticha
10.Ja Mizerii Osudu
11.Zapalili Jsme Onen Svet
12.Kazdy Z Nas
13.Vracejte Konve Na Misto
15.Ja Nechci Mnoho Trapiti