Review by Brady Deeprose, Photos by Emily Coulter
Opening the 5-band bill is Noweigan black metal outfit Svarttjern, playing their first ever UK show. Due to some interviews running over, I unfortunately missed the majority of their set; but when I finally made it inside, the band were in full swing, ripping through tracks from their latest offering, Ultimatum Necrophilia. Confident and commanding, vocalist Hans Fyrste’s gutteral delivery was lapped up by a surprisingly enthusiastic crowd, a pit beginning to form as the closing track began. An energetic and self-assured performance from a band testing the UK waters; hopefully they’ll be back soon.
Inquisiton, the Colombian/American ‘raw black metal’ two-piece followed in a similar vein to Svarttjern, albeit with less clarity to their sound. Considering straight up BM is really not my forte, Inquisition were enjoyable to watch although, by the end of their set, only their hardcore fans at the front seemed to be into it. Whether it was through choice of tone or poor sound, the guitar work was indecipherable leaving many of the songs sounding overly similar. Of the three support acts, Inquisition got the best reception but the feeling towards the back of the room was frostier than Satyricon’s drummer.
The wild card of the evening came from In Solitude who brought a less aggressive but equally dark pallor to the room as the previous acts. Despite the first few tracks lacking the impact of their heavier contemporaries, Sweeden’s In Solitude swiftly started to win back the crowd with their Sabbath-esque riffs and nods to that more classic metal style. While not to the ‘trve kvlt’ taste of the majority of the audience, In Solitude were clearly more at home on the stage that some of the other acts on show and, despite a lacklustre reaction, still put on a great show.
Throughtout their 20 years in the business, Cradle Of Filth have changed a lot. Both stylistically and personnel-wise, the band has never stuck to one formula. With 2012’s offering The Manticore And Other Horrors the bands first as a 3-piece, their live show is beginning to require more and more session musicians. The band was further struck just before the tour with the announcement that both guitarist Paul Allender and regular live guitarist James McIlroy would be missing the show due to family issues and James’ upcoming surgery.
The Cradle Of Filth that walked out onto The Forum stage was only 1/3 ‘pureblood’, with session musicians filling the gaps. I hate to say it but it was noticeable, and having the muddiest sounding drumkit of the evening did not help things at all, but the band didn’t gel as well as previous line-ups have. All things considered, the performance was good, with the ‘Filth delving deep into the vaults and playing mostly pre-Midian material. It was, however, their more modern material that shone, aggression incarnate ‘Cthulu Dawn’ and the stunning ‘Nymphetamine’ being personal highlights. Dani Filth’s characteristic screech was a spectacle as ever, but was overused to almost comedic levels; luckily, this made his guttural roars even more impressive. On their day, Cradle can be one of the biggest, most commanding forces in the metal world but the fates seemed to be against them this evening.
There was no doubt, as the stage was set, that Behemoth were the night’s ultimate spectacle. A gargantuan backdrop of white displaying the trinity/flams crest from The Satanist, flanked by transparent crest scrims, was raised giving the stage a clinical, clear-cut aesthetic. As the band entered and began ‘Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel’, the entire atmosphere in the room shifted from grounded clarity to complete immersion within the music and performance. The crowd were putty in the hands of Nergal, the master craftsman of the evening and one of the most confident and entertaining frontmen I’ve witnessed wielding a guitar.
All notions of bad sound were dismissed, Inferno’s kit sounded huge, the floor toms packing more raw punch than any ‘sub drops’ ever could; and every time he struck his ride, the sound was piercingly pure. Behemoth’s light show could be up there with the best I’ve ever experienced, the strobes used to perfectly accentuate the music and a vast array of colours that shifted between songs: it was glorious to behold. Since his return to health, Nergal is sounding more fierce than ever, breathing new life into classics ‘Conquer All’ and ‘Ov Fire and The Void’. It’s the songs form this years epic The Satanist that really showcase the bands talent and come across best live, the stripped down style being easier to recreate accurately.
Despite having to leave mid-way though ‘Chant For Eschaton 2000’ and missing the no-doubt monumental set closer ‘O Father O Satan O Sun!’, I can confidently state that Behemoth in 2014 are one of the deadliest musical forces going: The Satanist has transformed them from blackened death heavyweights to hall of famers.
1. Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel
2. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
3. Conquer All
4. Decade Of Therion
5. As Above So Below
6. Slaves Shall Serve
7. Christians To The Lions
8. Driven By The Five-Winged Star
9. The Satanist
10. Ov Fire And The Void
11. Alas, Lord Is Upon Me
12. Furor Divinus
13. At The Left Hand Ov God
14. Chant For Eschaton 2000
15. O Father, O Satan, O Sun!