Taake + Bölzer + One Tail, One Head + Orkan
The Dome, London
Review & photography by Thomas James Henry Saunders
Tonight sees one hell of a Scandinavian black metal line-up descend upon London with Taake as headliners, once again proving the adoration of their fans that they can play a headlining slot nearly twice yearly and still pull large audiences.
Travelling with Taake from Scandinavia are the deathened black metal two-piece outfit Bölzer, a final UK appearance from black meal act One Tail, One Head, and the side project of Taake’s Gjermund Fredheim, Orkan.
The night is cool as many a black metal fan descend upon Tufnell Park, lining up outside The Dome in their collective t-shirts emblazoned with a variety of castles, inverted crosses & pentagrams, demons and grim corpse paint.
One inside the mood is elevated as friends find each other at the bar & begin to line the stage in preparation for the night’s onslaught.
Special mention should be made of tonight’s merch stalls, having a very wide range of shirts, hoodies and vinyl. Many are quick to seize new additions for their black metal merchandise collections, myself very much included.
As lights dim and overhead music fades away, the already sizeable crowd turn their attention to the stage as the first blast-beat laden band stride out into the crowd. Orkan takes no time warming up, jumping straight into their set with ferocity and determination.
They sound powerful and intense tonight, with Einar Fjelldal blasting his voice across the room in an impressive manner with his gravelled snarls and grimace. He stands stock still, raising his arms to accentuate his vocal style instead as he gazes out at the audience.
Founding band member Gjermund Fredheim is fierce on guitar, creating a wall of noise with his prowess and stage presence, borrowed heavily from his role as Taake’s lead guitarist. His professionalism is obvious as he churns out blackened riff after blackened riff.
Style wise, they fill the space well; their melodic black metal is technical in places, but not so much that it becomes over complicated. Having released two albums thus far, they still have a lot of potential musically.
The crowd are a little stiff, yet attentive as they uniformly gaze out at Orkan while the band scream out into the night. As they end their set, the crowd cheers genuinely and the band say their farewells. A great start to the black metal proceedings of the night.
The first break of tonight sees the crowd returning to the merch stand & bars excitedly as more people pour in from outside in readiness for the farewell show from Norwegian black metal legends, One Tail, One Head.
Once the stage has been reset and the iconic emblem of One Tail, One Head is raised, the stage lights dim whilst a roar from the crowd raises up to greet this powerful act one final time here in London.
They go blisteringly into their set here, wasting no time with formalities or acts of kindness and preferring instead to let the cacophony of their harshly delicate music fill the room, as the crowd immediately get into the atmosphere of the night. Headbanging away, we join in with the pure enjoyment of watching this accomplished band blast through each song with immense power and a great deal of personality.
Lead vocalist Luctus is phenomenal on stage, wearing his worn leather jacket and an expression of hateful vindication whilst bellowing out an impressive vocal range. His on-stage presence here is also very powerful, often stepping up onto the speakers upon the front of the stage and glaring out upon the transfixed audience.
The whole band are on great form tonight, brimming with rage & well-honed technical skill, with both the guitarist and bassist thrashing away with feverish speed whilst headbanging along to each track with the audience.
Their entire show is tinged with slight sadness, knowing that this is the final time any of us will get to see such a powerful band perform ever again.
Yet One Tail, One Head do well to leave a very positive impression on everyone lining the stage and beyond here tonight.
A fine farewell indeed.
As many disappear out into the smoking area, the stage is stripped bare to one guitar stand & drum kit, for the next band on tonight consist solely of two members in the form of drummer and a vocalist/guitarist.
This is, of course, the hugely atmospheric Bölzer, who arrive on stage to a volley of roars and applause from the by now sweaty crowd, their horns raised high toward the stage. Frontman KzR takes a moment before beginning their set to light incense and to address the crowd with his intense stares.
They are instantly worthy of everyone’s attention through their sheer presence; despite only being the pair of them upon the stage, they fill it with personality and a true sense of purpose.
They start strong, with first track “Steppes” booming out across the baying audience near-effortlessly by these masterful artists. Kzr is a mesmerising front-man to behold as he stands still in the middle of the stage, screaming out vengefully whilst shredding out his blackened chords with practised ease.
Drummer HzR is a true powerhouse behind his kit, delivering each note meaningfully and aggressively. The sound, as a result, is an all-encompassing rage that feels so very personal as the two of them there feel so isolated on the coolly lit stage, whilst also feeling so very menacing in the seriousness of their performance.
They play through a long, but seemingly instant, set that goes through the entirety of their catalogue, the sound never going below feverish in its production nor reception.
Ending on “Chlorophyllia”, the crowd cheer ecstatically as KzR kneels upon one knee, bowing his head as thanks and farewell. A high class black metal act indeed and one to certainly catch again wherever possible.
Zeus – Seducer Of Hearts
Entranced By The Wolfshook
During this final break between acts tonight, the crowd take to the bars, ferrying pints to those at the front of the stage unwilling to lose their space, whilst many others by now have purchased at least one item of merchandise. The talk among the crowd is excited and yet also apprehensive of the headliners to come.
The lights dim one last time for tonight as headliners Taake take to the stage among a surge of bodies in the crowd and an almighty roar. Everyone raises their fists to the air in reception for the band as they each embark upon the stage one by one.
Founder, sole studio artist & front-man Hoest pounces upon the stage last to great effect. A large mosh-pit opens near immediately as the band go thrashing into first track “Jernhaand” from 2017’s “Kong Vinter”, with its drawn out guitar sections and unrelenting blast beats through the entire track.
This track alone sends a rampant edge through the crowd, who mosh and headbang furiously along with a band in full swinging force tonight.
Hoest is on full snarling form tonight, using his well-proven stage presence to great effect as he hurls himself across the stage, full of energy and foul intent. Having seen the band 8 times now, I’ll never tire of Hoest’s onstage antics, nor the band’s entire onstage persona as they power through each track with great force.
Taake are masters of the genre tonight, shredding their unique blend of raw and melodic black metal styles to fantastic effect, with all members of the band being on fine form, musically & atmospherically.
With Gjermand playing the guitars for the second time tonight, it would be understandable for him to be slower than usual, but to my surprise he’s even more full of energy if anything for this set, grimacing out and headbanging throughout much of the set in full forced fashion.
Their set this time around is more heavily focused around the 2011 album “Noregs Vaapen” with tracks such as “Nordbundet” going down as a true storm tonight. The mosh-pit becomes more violent yet still very much enjoyable as everyone is simultaneously headbanging through the pit, which can still lead to accidental injury if nothing else.
Taake end their main set on “Nattestid Ser Porten Vid, Part I” from 1999’s album “Nattestid”, and as the furious raw track ends, the crowd chant and shout incessantly until Heost & co take back to the stage for the true finale track of the set, and of the night, “Myr”.
This track has and always will be one of my all-time favourite black metal songs, and tonight’s rendition is no slow-paced version of this masterpiece, either. The band are on exceptional form here, churning through the track’s upbeat tempo and raging speed with total professionalism and excitable style.
As the band come to a final close, the roar from the crowd is deafeningly loud, proving once again how very strong a band Taake is, as both a live and studio act.
Until next time (I cannot wait already).
One Tail, One Head