With its dark interior and low lighting it seems that The Macbeth of Hoxton is the perfect venue for a black metal gig and it’s a backdrop that suits openers Mørktår. An unholy trio they waste little time on pleasantries and deliver a brutal sonic experience; cold, raw and heartless Mørktår draw inspiration from the original ethos of black metal. Thrym is the quintessential nihilistic frontman whose tortured vocals come directly from hades while drummer Orobas ensures a lot of variety by delivering blast beats alongside more measured passages as bassist Morrigan provides a depth often lacking in the genre.
There was a time, no so long ago, when British black metal was seen as a poor relation to its European cousin (much like thrash was in the ‘80s). That seems destined to change with the arrival of Formicarius who’ve just dropped their acclaimed second album Black Mass Ritual. They immediately evidence a swirling sound and after a few minutes all present are caught in their vortex. Original tunes like ‘Stalker Among The Stars’ really captures the essence of the band as ‘Early Will I Seek Thee’ builds towards something monolithic and the addition of haunting keys means it’s at once brutal and ethereal. Blurring the boundaries of extreme metal ‘Crimson Plague’ veers into thrash territory with a blistering guitar solo while the excellently titled ‘May The Rats Eat Your Eyes’ ensures they depart in a blaze of sonic fury.
Like a coven of witches Asagraum appear at The Macbeth to celebrate the release of their second album Dawn of Infinite Fire. The Netherlands is perhaps not your first thought when thinking black metal but zaanstad has spawned an all female band who’ve just unleashed a genre defining record. There’s a palpable tension as we await Asagraum and when they hit the stage it’s with the force of a thunderclap cracking from a northern sky. Bathed in blood red light the band weave their magic and by second track, a raucous rendition of ‘Transformation’, all present are under their spell. Technical without being overtly complex and with strong song structures means Asagraum remain accessible without compromising. In the studio vocalist Obscura also plays bass and guitars but live she’s assembled a solid band who produce an atmospheric sound that conjures images of Norwegian fjords and crystal lakes but also something of their native Netherlands in the vastness and threatening nature of the North Sea. Latest single ‘Abomination’s Alter’ follows and tumbles over the crowd like a rockfall and proceeds ‘Dawn of Infinite Fire’ which encases and encircles the audience like Dante’s Inferno. There’s a definite Bathory influence in the bands sound and a touch of Icelandic psychedelic black metal but they remain refreshingly original and it’s hard to draw comparisons with other artists. ‘Beyond The Black Vortex’ snarls like a wolf feasting upon carrion which is supplemented by a great drum sound but in truth the whole band are on fire and display a real chemistry. It’s a crowd pleasing set that pulls tracks from both of their albums with ‘Waar Ik be komt de dood’ bringing a lively evening to a fitting conclusion.
Reviewed by Peter Dennis.