Zuriaake + Bast + Harrowed
@ The Unicorn Camden
6th of August 2019
Review By Johnny Wolf
Photography by Ryan Whitwell
On Tuesday night the 6th of August, Nightshift Promotions brought home some very interesting black metal performers. From faraway east, the Chinese masters Zuriaake would bestow darkness and misery on English soil. Accompanied by one of the best English doom metellers in the scene today, Bast, to warm-up, and the upcoming stars the English trio Harrowed to open a great night. The show was originally planned at The Underworld Camden, it was moved to The Unicorn. I wasn’t happy about the change of venue at first but nonetheless, I knew the night was going to be dark and blasphemous and it was.
Harrowed opened the night with their unique sound as the crowd gathered around the stage. The three-piece band kicks off with fast riffs and d-beats, they have managed to infuse punk into the aggression of hardcore therefore creating a very distinguished, razor-sharp sound. Many have tried doing what this band has done but Harrowed has succeeded in perfecting their art in a way I haven’t heard or seen before. Some of us in the crowd have seen Harrowed before but I’m certain all of us will remember this performance and would love to see them again!
A quick changeover, where the English three-piece band Bast sets up on stage to destroy. I can’t describe Bast without being biased, I simply love their art! Having been formed around 2008 they have released a few demos and two full-length albums, and they managed to manipulate a number of genres to create a unique sound, a perfect merger between doom and black metal with a different approach to the genres in each song.
Their blackened doom lengthy riffs, created by Craig Bryant on guitar and vocals, mesmerising drumming by Jon Lee and rumbling bass from Gavin Thomas, they stunned us all! Both Craig and Jon take turns in producing vocals creating stories filled with misery and moments of glory, taking the crowd on a journey, ending with climactic riffs all dressed in a prog attire.
The instrumental parts create an atmospheric state of mind that outlines the story being told by the lyrics. The complexity of the song-writing is fascinating, unpredictable riffs at every step of the journey bringing a coherent outcome like nothing else. What a band and what a set!
It’s time now for the Zuriaake, a band I’ve discovered a few years ago, not knowing they have existed since 1998! Since I have discovered their atmospheric black metal, I’ve been eager to watch them perform live; now the wait has ended. They walked on stage all dressed in Chinese folk attire, bamboo hats and carrying white lanterns, then the singer Bloodfire raises a chalice above his head and sets it in front of him. The sounds of the forest mixed with sounds of running water slowly fades away in the background as the first riff kicks in.
Bloodfire starts howling at the crowd whilst waving an ancient dagger around the mic, accompanied with deliberate drumming mixed with some blast-beats. The first track, “God of Scotch Mist”, including the intro ends at the 10 minutes mark where the band members bows to the crowd in respect. The intro for the second song begins, followed by an atmospheric riff, a slower track with some tremolo riffs in between. The clean howls from Bloodfire channel deep emotions. He covers his face with his palms sometimes, as if he was hiding tears of shame, while later he holds his hat and bows as if he was begging for mercy.
The second track ends with another bow to the crowd. Afterimage of Autumn begins: the crowd is already so into it I could see heads shaking to the riffs in very emotional gestures and others headbanging hard. The next track has a very catchy head-bang-worthy riff and few guitar solos. Bloodfire grabs a snuff bottle and starts blessing its contents, then he ends splashing it at the crowd whilst they respond with excitement. His hand gestures during the performance have been a method of deciphering and transforming the emotions to the crowd, we didn’t need to understand the lyrics to know our cue to feel sad or victorious. What seemed to be the final track surprised me with a mosh-pit that broke out in the middle of the venue, everyone was in a state of ecstasy and climax, to a point that despite the atmospheric riffs, moshing was inevitable! The band walked off stage, announcing the end of the journey, but the crowd haven’t have enough, more was demanded. The loud cheers were heard by the band and they decided to turn back and perform one more track.
The venue was packed, probably one of the most packed gigs I’ve attended at the Unicorn, everyone wanted a taste of the Chinese black metal leaders. Everyone had his fill but was still asking for more, I can say in confidence we would love to see Zuriaake perform their dark arts again on a bigger and better stage.