Necronautical + Wolvencrown + Sanhedrin
@ The Black Heart, London
6th February 2022
Review by Demitri Levantis
Photos by Jo Blackened – Altercarnated Photography
The Black Heart: like all other major metal venues in the UK capital, it took a beating through the covid pandemic, but given the spirit and enthusiasm from the crowd who flocked to it tonight, I can tell you it won’t be shutting its doors anytime soon.
Yes, another night of excellent, pristine and wholesome black metal was afoot in the Camden venue, for Necronautical, all the way from Manchester, arrived on the London leg of their UK tour, accompanied by fellow northerners Wolvencrown.
Being a February evening it was already twilight when I and my acquaintances arrived to sample the wide range of beverages the bar had to offer the happy and jovial crowd gearing up for some of the most extreme and wholesome music to ever grace the alternative music scenes.
Soon enough, after much time catching up with friends new and old, it was time to exchange the glass pint glasses for plastic ones as we trooped to the upper room ready for the evening to begin. For a medium-sized venue area, the gig space had the capacity to hold a decent number of people, and a good few had turned up. First up on the bill was a local act, Sanhedrin. Back on the metal circuit after reforming last year, the guys from London and Derbyshire were on stage armed to the core with their instruments, ready to provide an audible onslaught from the word go.
As I noticed from the moment the songs kicked in, I felt this was the band for whom the sound system was tightest. None of the instruments nor Parmahn Azad’s vocals sounded off and the droning grind of the guitars felt very good. Sanhedrin were certainly the youngest looking band on the bill this evening but they exhibited a good deal of the talent you’d expect from the veteran end of the metal spectrum.
Sadly the band did not make much interaction with the crowd, which was a bit of a shame, but speaking as a musician there are times when a band must focus on their job as it can take a lot of painstaking time and effort to set up a gig. Thankfully the crowd were good to the band as they continued on into tune after tune.
As I looked around the room I could see the crowd begin to swell to a rather impressive level for the opening act. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sanhedrin felt flattered to see so many. Though I cannot help recalling a certain reveller who kept shouting supportive things at the rest of the audience in a style you’d expect from a hype man at a hip-hop show.
Percussion wise, the band caused a sumptuous din that had the full flow of their audible tidal wave, heading fast and furiously into the crowd with tunes of anti-religion and other evil themes cutting into the revellers like a knife making Sanhedrin appear an ideal act to open up the evening.
A good act is one who feels like they ended too early and could have done with a little more time as they held the crowd in their grasp well from start to finish.
I think Sanhedrin have improved a lot from the last time I saw them opening for Nahemia at Nambucca last year, a good shot of satanic audible might in the arm to get the flow of evil going for the evening.
By now the crowd had swelled to a decent size, packing out the upper room of the venue and the merch stands were busy selling shirts, vinyl and CDs to the happy revellers. This was enough to show the metal scene has not mellowed at all, however big a hit it has taken over the past few years, and more than enough of the crowd were smiling and laughing as they went about their business, revelling in the fun of the evening.
Soon it was the turn of the next band, one who had come all the way from Nottingham; Wolvencrown, on the road after releasing their EP: “A Shadow of What Once Was”, now armed and ready to give London a good barrage of pagan and nature-themed black metal.
Revelling in the natural beauty of their local area and expressing the loudest, angriest and most evil tunes covering local mythologies, Wolvencrown pulled no punches in showing the best of Nottingham black metal in our faces.
The look of them alone said the band meant business, particularly guitarist Jack Wolven in his baseball cap and spiked guitar strap, alongside vocalist Nick Horton who showcased some mighty find guitar shredding as well as being able to sound like a lost soul trapped in a chaotic status, getting the crowd pumped up for more amazing metal.
At first, all seemed to be going well, but after a few minutes it was clear that all was not boding entirely well for the band despite them riding straight into the metaphorical battlefield to unleash all the vicious evil they have concocted across their career.
It was at this point the Black Heart’s PA system appeared to fail. The guitars were loud but drowned out the vocals from Nick Horton and Jack Wolven and I could barely hear Will Cupitt’s keyboards – one of the many elements of Wolvencrown’s music that makes it so ethereal and atmospheric.
Despite this setback the band soldiered on and kept asking for the vocals to be turned up – but that was not the prettiest of sights, something you don’t want to see at any gig.
As Wolvencrown made it into the last third of their set time, the bass drum skin unfortunately broke, causing the set to be cut short. There was no sound to tell what had gone wrong but as one song ended fairly abruptly the crowd knew something harsh was afoot and it wasn’t long til the bad news was given out over the PA system.
Speaking as a drummer, this can be one of the worst things to happen at a live show, but despite this, they still finished the set (though had to close a little early) and the crowd provided more than enough gratitude for the band as they were not ready to let any setbacks like this spoil the night.
Having reached almost full capacity at this point, the crowd headbanged in unison the Nottingham lads as they ended their set and the cheers went up reaching far and wide in an epic proportion similar to that of a hero’s return in some swashbuckling adventure movie.
A good job from Wolvencrown who proved they are capable of braving the odds just as the metal scene has done over the last two years.
Setlist: A Once Rational Time/Forest Of Bleak/A Land Untouched/A Shadow Of What Once Was II/Celestial Lands
Once the band were off stage the crew got to work mending the broken bass with heaps of duct tape. Whilst I think it would have been better to have a replacement drum, I think the level of tape added did a formidable job as was heard in the next set.
After a few more beers, the evening’s headliners were ready to make their mark on the capital city – making it very clear that the long distance from their hometown and the many issues a tour can throw up weren’t going to dampen their spirits.
Necronautical, hailing all the way from Manchester and ready to showcase a good deal of their most recent album “Slain in the Spirit”, were armed and ready for their audible assault and a bass drum doused in gaffer tape.
As expected, the boys dived right into the evil and esoteric depths of their discography, firing off anthem after anthem from the new record, and the older albums that put them on the black metal map.
Precision drumming from Slugh hammered into the crowd as vocalist Naut howled and wailed like a freshly raised zombie hellbent on devouring all living beings in its path. The crowd were proving to be eager victims at this point, for the venue was now at full capacity with every keen black metal lover in the area ready to experience the band’s ritual.
Naut exhibited a keen enthusiasm as he thanked the crowd for the turnout as well as growling evil remarks reflecting the outright misanthropic and esoteric ouevre of the band, something which really got the crowd going with many fans headbanging throughout their tracks.
The intense atmosphere continued well, with guitarists Anchorite and Carcarrion synced up beautifully with the crisp and well-forged blast beats of Slugh, making it a melodic and almost ambient feel that warmed my heart and all those around me who love that end of the black metal spectrum.
Naut was enjoying himself shouting at the crowd between vocal sets, as well as getting everyone clapping along in the ethereal section of one song before hurtling back into vicious Manchester black metal.
There was a charisma about Naut that kept the whole crowd on his side. The beautiful orchestration of the rest of the group told me that this was a band fashioned of musicians who deserve to be performing together, and that everything they have achieved has been with much aplomb.
Seeing the strength and might of the UK black metal circuit fighting ferociously against the odds was showcased with the skill one would expect from veteran musicians: here we were seeing a band who had come from far and wide to showcase their talents and were only destined for bigger things going by the massive number of people they brought in that evening.
Necronautical have taken some of the darkest, most obscure and esoteric themes and put them to some well written and researched metal that has put them at the head table of the black metal scene today. It was great watching the guys drink heartily between songs as the set wore on and I too raised a glass to them alongside the well-earnt applause flying through the air.
It was soon coming up to closing time and the band were met with the applause and cheers they well and truly deserved. The crowd clearly wanted more, but an encore was not possible with this being a Sunday gig, but the band ended on a high.
In total, another night of delightful brutality from some of the UK’s best black metal musicians. It would not surprise me if Necronautical and Wolvencrown go on to become some of the biggest names in the genre in the near future, for their extremities and esoteric might put them firmly at the head table of UKBM this evening.
Setlist: Ritual and Recursion/Nihil sun sole Novum/Spritzenkorper/Hypnagogia/Slain in the Spirit/Death Magick Triumphant/Necropsychonautics/Apotheosis