Asagraum + Formicarius + Mørktår
@ Macbeth of Hoxton
26th of October 2019
Review by Johnny Wolf
Photography by Paweł Dziepak
Despite all that, there are few bands which went against all odds and proven to be special with a hint of feminism to season their dark art, and one of my favourites is Asagraum.
On Saturday the 26th of October 2019 a unique event took place in London, a bill of grim black metal and evil satanic rituals filled the ether of the old city.
I must step away from the craft for a second to talk about the people that makes such things possible. Of course, many parts comes together to make the full picture, so not to belittle anyone’s effort but I want to give a big shout out to the promoters at Sublime Terror.
Being a promoter in the UK isn’t easy job: venues are busy all the time, flights, accommodation and catering for bands isn’t cheap and even political state of the country makes everything riskier than ever with the uncertainty around Brexit.
It seems like every concert a promoter puts on is a risk for them to either continue what they’re doing or take a hit and close shop. I’ve seen promoters fail and others struggle, I even dabbled myself with booking bands and found it too risky for my own liking.
Sublime Terror brought this event knowing all its risks: the venue was barely used for metal by any promoters before, the bands are very unique and I doubt Sublime had any data about what the scene perception of the line-up was. The location wasn’t as accessible as one would want and even the date was a bit risky considering Halloween season and many events around the same time.
Considering every factor, it’s a risky concert to promote! That didn’t discourage Sublime from taking the risk to fulfil their (and our) passion for extreme metal, kudos and thank you for your effort. It is because of such promoters (and a few others which are doing a great job as well) that the scene is still alive and we get to enjoy amazing bands in the UK.
Alright, back to the bands – the line-up was made of three bands: Mørktår, Formicarious and Asagraum.
Mørktår is an English black metal band created by Thrym Mørktår who has been perfecting his craft since before 2006. The band is a four-piece generally but it was a slight misfortune that their guitarist has left recently. I met Thrym before the set and had a chat with him, he told me they’re looking for a new guitarist and that he will be performing both vocals and guitars tonight, alongside the rest of the band members of course.
It’s a rare treat to see Mørktår play, the reason being that their raw and very primitive black metal isn’t appealing to the average listener. Rather, it’s very specific and evil which makes them a hard fit for many bills, even black metal ones.
They setup on stage and in all carelessness they fill the reasonably-packed venue with their evil misanthropic riffs. Dressed in spikes and leather, running a noose around the front-mans’ mic, the never ending, very raw riff-machine begins. I keep saying raw because it’s a fact, very noticeable in their style.
Every member of this band did a great job putting an amazing set: Orobas is their newest drummer did a brilliant job on drums, Thrym did an awesome job covering guitars and vocals and Morrigan did great on bass, definitely a fine rarity to catch live and I wish to see them more.
Next were the epic sons (and daughter) of London, Formicarius. One of the very few things I consider being lucky about living in London is this band. They might be the opposite of Mørktår if I might say, each and every member in this band is musically educated to some extent at least; some of them are music teachers, some aren’t but still know their theory well.
I mention this because it’s noticeable in their music. I know many would argue that black metal needs to be raw, messy and relatively unstructured, and I don’t disagree but being musically capable doesn’t kill the evilness of the craft because music theory exists to translate music not to change it.
Recently Valdr has joined their lines from the midlands. I heard he’s a man of tea and biscuits but outside that he’s a mad drummer and the coolest dude around, and I was happy when I found out he joined them recently because I’ve seen him play with many other bands and every time his drumming was immaculate.
I think Formicarius stands as a good example for what English black metal sounds like (I’m going to take some hits for this), a fusion between symphonic elements, dark melodies and dark, raw black metal.
Lord Saunders’ sick vocals accompanied with dark atmospheric keyboards from Morath sit perfectly well with Hægtesse’s bass lines, allowing Valdr to shake the earth with his blast-beats whilst in the midst of all the darkness you get the pretty shredder Nazarkardeh jumping back and forth and showing off his guitar skills making each every one of us jealous!
A fantastic band, even with the jokes between the tracks – I’m not a fan of humour on black metal stages but it’s an English thing which I never understood. Nonetheless, Formicarius doesn’t make you cringe with some silly jokes, rather they grab everyone’s attention with a light comment about the next song or so.
I was lucky to grab a copy of their newest album, Rending the Veil of Flesh, on limited gold vinyl and even got it signed by all of them, a fantastic album and it’s worth mentioning that Sakis from Rotting Christ did a small blessing on one of the tracks. I won’t tell you which one so you’d go listen to the album and find out yourself.
I think I spent too much time talking about the openers and many other subjects at this point; it seems attending this gig has already paid off the ticket price but wait, there is more!
Let’s play a game: did you know that Asagraum were only formed around 2015?
Did you also know that they were split between Norway and Netherlands considering their original drummer lives in Norway but they became fully Dutch after she left the band?
Did you also know that it’s an all female band?
Did you know that Obscura, the front-woman and vocalist, used to play live with many bands, like Nargaroth?
Did you know they have released two full-length albums since formation? Pretty impressive for a fresh band.
The ladies gets on stage, fully covered with corpse paint and each had her own sigil drawn on her forehead. The venue was packed and the crowd were anticipating that moment; within a minute of the start consuming everything with their satanic infinite fire, I was completely overwhelmed with Obscura’s voice, it’s so sharp and harsh it manages to scratch my soul.
The performance was a cold and harsh live ritualistic event of old school black metal. Asagraum is a band that sounds like it somehow escaped the 90s whilst preserving the authenticity and original sound of black metal: grim, harsh and evil enough to conjure all the demons of hell and their masters, the stage was red like an infinite fire and the riffs were like a stream of lava burning our faces.
Everybody loved it, many lost their minds headbanging hard and interacting with the set, and I even manged to grab myself limited vinyl copies of their first and second albums on the way out.
I couldn’t be sure about the setlist but I believe this is what they played:
They Crawl from the Broken Circle / Daar waar ik sterf / Abomination’s Altar / The Lightless Inferno / Dawn of Infinite Fire / Black Sun Prayer / Transformation / Carried by Lucifer’s Wings