Marduk + Vader + Impalement @ The Garage, London

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Marduk + Vader + Impalement

@ The Garage

14th March 2022

Review by Faye Coulman

Despite The Garage security staff’s best efforts to create as hostile and generally unwelcoming an environment as humanly possible here this evening, nothing can quite prepare us for tonight’s utterly brutalising double-whammy of a co-headlining duo. Originating from markedly different genre traditions (black and death, respectively), Marduk and Vader’s anticipated turn in the capital is precisely the adrenaline-fuelled fix we need in these continually troubled times. Especially given just how long it’s been since we at Metal Rules last had the pleasure of welcoming the aforementioned artists back to UK shores.

In the towering shadow of these two veritable titans of the genre, lesser-known extreme metal collective Impalement hold their own with consistently unfaltering poise and precision, their intricately crafted lashings of tremolo finding impeccable placement in amongst gargantuan hammer-blasts of percussive brute force. Beneath expansive flurries of flickering stage lighting, ‘Satan’s Fire In My Eyes’ is perhaps the most riveting standout out of the various brutalising bangers they offer up for our delectation, with pulverising implosions of double bass that abound with militaristic grandeur.

By the time the stage lights dim and that delicious, familiar atmosphere of hushed suspense hangs heavy in the nocturnal gloom ahead of Vader’s hugely anticipated set, the formerly rather scattered early crowd appears to have almost quadrupled in size, with fans manoeuvring foaming pints of lager unsteadily through the great teeming throng of leather-clad punters. Propelled forth by unrelenting wave upon wave of caustic screams, ‘Black to the Blind’ ignites instantaneous, howling hysteria among fans before brutalising classic ‘Silent Empire’ bludgeons the faculties into submission through sizeable slabs of bone-splintering percussion and sinewy grooves that writhe and seethe like a nest of agitated serpents. Elsewhere ‘Reborn in Flames’ is rife with a synapse-scorching wealth of lacerating hooks, its airy flourishes of guitar accelerating into a dizzying crescendo of white-hot aggression above a pummeling onslaught of blastbeats. It’s hardly the stuff of genre-shattering brilliance, but as far as pleasingly brutal and tautly executed carnage goes, it’s easy to appreciate why these iconic Polish aggressors provoke such a riotous, joyously energised reception.

All bristling, scalpel-edged hostility and insanely paced machinegun blasts, extreme metal legends Marduk leave the synapses instantly crackling with adrenaline from the get-go, painted faces pale as pestilence beneath the unforgiving glare of the neon stage lights. With a ghoulish howl of air raid sirens ushering in the frantic, jugular-ripping contortions of ‘Werwolf’, gargantuan layers of densely muscled riffs pulverise the senses into submission as demonic frontman Morgan ‘Evil’ Steinmeyer Håkansson belches forth endless wave upon wave of vocal cord-liquefying screams. From here, the endlessly whirling, razor-keen throes of ‘Frontschwein’ waste not so much as a nanosecond in stirring up a stomping, battleground-worthy orgy of aggression, its gnarly strains of tremolo adding no shortage of deathly atmosphere to the mix.

Interlacing these more recent, brutalising standouts in amongst a choice selection of classic, long-established fan favourites, the battering blasts of 1992’s ‘The Funeral Seemed to be Endless’ seize lethally affecting hold of the listener. Like the monstrous, scalpel-sharp jaws of some flawlessly evolved primordial beast, this classic material in particular is engineered with one sole, overriding purpose in mind – to raise abject hell in as uncomplicated and relentless a manner as possible. Together with these thoroughly bludgeoning exercises in brutality, theirs is a sound that equally revels in carefully sculpted technical detail. And from nimbly executed lashings of vertigo-inducing arpeggios to densely tangled layers of thorny tremolo and luxuriant grooves that rumble with unearthly majesty, it’s hard to imagine a more vicious and expansive manifestation of the Marduk sound.

All told, a great night of fearsome sounds!