Immolation + Ragnarok + Monument of Misanthropy + Embryo @ Boston Music Rooms, Tufnell Park – Friday 22nd November 2019


Embryo are proceeded by a torturous introduction but nothing can prepare us for the oncoming sonic assault. They’re a five piece who bring together all that’s great about extreme metal from powerhouse drumming to a pounding bassist, then factor in a groove laden guitarist and overlay it with some fine guttural vocals and you have a heady mixture. ‘Flatter of Indifference’ (from 2010s No God Slave) is brutally heavy, like early Suffocation, while the addition of some keys adds another dimension. ‘Looking for the Divine’ ensures they depart as they arrived: in a blaze of sonic fury.

With a line up hailing from different parts of Europe Monument of Misanthropy certainly live up to their name. Their sound is a musical maelstrom, a swirling cacophony that totally engulfs the listener and coupled with songs like ‘Vegan Homicide’ they really can’t go wrong. ‘Killing Spree’ and the self titled ‘Monument of Misanthropy’ topple over the listener like a ton of bricks but their cover of Morbid Angel’s ‘Fall From Grace’ is a definite set highlight.

Bathed in blood red light and appearing like four freshly exhumed corpses Norway’s Ragnarok are riding the crest of a wave having just released a career defining album in Non Debellicata. As you’d expect from a band who’ve been in the game for a quarter of a century they deliver a masterclass in blackened thrash. Exploding like a volcano ‘Chapel of Shadows’ from the new record really packs a punch with the whole band locking in well together to handle the time changes with ease. Five years ago Jontho swapped the drum stool for the mic stand and he’s really grown into the role and he commandeers centre stage as we return to the bands genesis with ‘Pagan Land’. Then it’s back to the new album and, as you’d expect from a track titled ‘The Great Destroyer’, it’s a cataclysmic affair with guitarist Bolverk creating an impenetrable wall of chords that’s underpinned by drummer Malignant and bassist Rammr. Just when you think things couldn’t get more heavy and unruly Ragnarok cap a near perfect set with a ferocious ‘Blackdoor Miracle’.

Like a spark to kindling a pit immediately erupts as Immolation hit the stage: it’s that kind of music. Following Ragnarok is no easy task but this quartet from New York have songs in their arsenal that are the envy of most. Still led by the interminable Ross Dolan Immolation arrive with little fanfare, just their unique brand of technical thrash that could sandblast a man’s skin. The first two salvos are fired in quick succession and land like rabbit punches before ‘The Distorting Light’ delivers the knockout blow. ‘Into Everlasting Fire’ follows (from their debut Dawn of Possession) as a circle pit, like a vortex, sucks in the unwary. In Robert Vigna Immolation have one of the great unsung guitarists who makes his creative and complex riffing look easy and then, showing another facet of his playing, duels with compatriot Alex Bouks on ‘Burn With Jesus’. In fact I don’t think Immolation, like most pioneers, have really been acknowledged for introducing unorthodox rhythms and drum patterns to the genre and Steve Shalaty on the sticks powers the band. But what sets Immolation apart is the strong groove that renders their songs memorable despite their technicality and complexity. ‘Lower’ follows along with the eponymous ‘Immolation’ (a song so good they included it on their first and latest albums). Set closer ‘When the Jackals Come’ attacks the crowd like a pack of hungry hounds and drains the remaining energy from a rabid crowd.

Reviewed by Peter Dennis.