Review by Paul Castles, Photos by Helen Moss, ABSTRACT photo
This was another enterprising Asylum line-up, brought together on this occasion by Zombie Christ Promotions.
Unfortunately local crew Hordes were done and dusted by the time I reached the Hockley hothouse for which I apologise. I’ll do my utmost to catch these fellas next time around as their strong links with Anaal Nathrakh make them a highly intriguing proposition.
So first up for me were the bludgeoning Belgians Saille (pronounced with the nautical theme rather than the girl’s name). Hats were really off to this hard working likeable bunch who had undertaken a gruelling 12-hour non-stop road trip from the Flatlands, across the Channel and navigated their way up our glorious motorway network before finally arriving in Birmingham. This was their first night of a mini UK tour supporting Winterfylleth and hopefully the arduous journey proved worth it for Saille who certainly made a few new friends in the Second City with their melancholic symphonic sound.
Performing material from their acclaimed debut release Ritu, Saille’s heart may be as black as soot but their sound is lightened by majestic sweeping melodies. With a six-man line-up, the Asylum stage offers limited elbow room and bass player Didier Vancampo spent almost the entire set marooned in a dark shadow. Dries Gaerdelen was more animated than most keyboard players managing to crash down on the keys while vigorously head banging without dropping so much as a single note. Frontman Dennie Grondelaers has an easy presence and Saille deliver an intense black metal experience but without the theatrical wardrobe of performers such as Dimmu Borgir.
Headliners Winterfylleth are quite breathtaking live. I caught these Mancunians playing at Damnation across the Pennines in Leeds last November. Although performing in front of a much smaller crowd at the Asylum, Winterfylleth were every bit as compelling, an intense black metal whirlwind that simply picks up and crushes everything in its path like an angry tornado.
Frontman Chris Naughton has a wonderfully distinctive anguished vocal delivery not entirely dissimilar from a cat being dragged through a hedge backwards. Everyone knows their job in Winterfylleth and guitar wielding Mark Wood wore a pained look of intense concentration and focus throughout.
With two stunning albums to their name, Winterfylleth have quickly established themselves as one of the leading northern lights of extreme black metal. Their songs pulsate with a desolate haunting vibe fuelled by more tales of olde English heritage than you’re likely to stumble across on the Antiques Roadshow. If there are many better black metal acts on these shores than Winterfylleth than I look forward to seeing them.
Finally, the gig ended with a nice touch as the effervescent Queenie, from promoters Zombie Christ, took to the stage to thank the bands and the fans for turning up.
It was a pleasure Queenie.