Welcome back! After the blissful slumber that was Christmas we slowly but surely entered the new year. Wiping away the cobwebs of 2015 we greet the new year with a decidedly frosty hello. Penned for last September, Abbath was set to return with Primordial and Conan. Owing to some difficulties the show was instead postponed to banish the January blues. All the while our Death Metal deviants Benighted and The Black Dahlia Murder were scheduled to perform separate shows in the same area. Deciding to combine both shows into one mega show, minus Conan, we welcome the first gig of 2016.
23rd January 2016
The Forum, Kentish Town
Support Bands: Benighted, The Black Dahlia Murder and Primordial
Running the gauntlet of opening band tonight are Canadian borne Benighted. Currently on tour with brothers in Death Metal arms The Black Dahlia Murder the band set the pace for tonight with their decidedly heavy material. Performing to a crowd of corpse painted individuals it makes for an interesting display, nevertheless the band more than prove themselves in the face of frosty adversity and deliver a killer show suiting the larger stage despite their underground appeal.
Releasing their seventh studio album last year The Black Dahlia Murder are one of the most consistently devastating live Death Metal acts going. No stranger to the Forum the band launch in to new ripper “Receipt”. The surgical precision of Eschbach’s riffs cut down any opposition here tonight. Coming to our solo section from Mr Knight, it seems we have another guitarist currently filling in for the lead player, no word on why but the man delivers scintallating leads with the accuracy of the reknowned shredder. Prior to becoming a fully fledged member of the new Death Metal elite much of The Black Dahlia Murder’s following lay in Nocturnal, reanimating the classic album tonight the band rip into “What Horrible Night To Have A Curse” before slowing the pace down with the undead voyage of “On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood“.
Once again the band hit their stride where the rhytmic battery of both Cassidy and Lavelle to create a battering ram of rhythmic precision. Dipping quickly into their new ode to Dracula “Vlad, Son of The Dragon” again showcases the band’s excellent song writing making for a fantastic bellow of “higher, higher!” kicking up a gear once again “Abysmal” rears it’s ugly head. Growing from shy individual to fully fledged undead commander Trevor Strnad is in total control of our audience here tonight as the macabre conductor ushers in the throwback of fan favourite “Funeral Thirst”. Looking out into the audience originally trepidatious about this foreign entity that is Death Metal, our badger painted individuals are fully backing the band as they descend in to classic “I Will Return” leaving it’s devastating mark on The Forum tonight, arguably the best band of the night and a phenomenal start to 2016.
Changing tone now we move into the earthy sounds of Irish borne Primordial. Forgoing technical ability for sheer edificial sound. What I believed to be a jarring change in the evening has in fact been a welcome show of versatility. Beginning their set the monlithic llyrics hurtling from Alan Averill with “Where Greater Men Have Fallen“. Despite the band having an hour on stage with longer an more drawn out songs the band have a slightly smaller setlist. Yet with the destructive force of “Gods to the Godless” the band are absolutely immovable. The sheer presence of singer Alan leads for me, not a huge fan of the slower doomier genres to become increasingly entranced in this deeply rooted, traditional Celtic wonder.
Though the man might be made up with all manner of tattered belonging’s leading to a more appealing aesthetic, the band themselves retain the back to basics approach. A minimalist set up to achieve an absolutely rock solid sound. “The Coffin Ships”, a long time staple in the band’s performance delivers in all ways imaginable and when the bellowing announcement of their final track “Empire Falls” resounds throughout Kentish Town the band have still not lost one ounce of the destructive force. A fantastic highlight of the evening, regardless of how polarising genres may be and with the evermore expanding tour packages that variety is something to celebrate not to dismiss.
Begining a solo career sets you back to square one, renouncing the Immortal name Abbath decided last year that enough was enough. After a court battle over ownership of the name Immortal the man decided to make his exit and form solo project Abbath. Fraught with complications coming from the exit of both guitarist and drummer just months ago the man has had a few complications which haven’t seemed to disappear…
Beginning the performance in permafrost style, the opening tribal rhythm’s of “To War!” explode as our nameless and interchangeable drummer Creature takes to the stage, flanked by King and a fantastically primed Abbath. Ripping through the album’s first track we are spearheaded into second single “Winterbane” given slightly more of a recognition from the crowd owing to the album only being officially released Friday some of the crowd aren’t as familiar with the man’s solo work as you might think. Nevertheless the new material is sounding absolutely fantastic, blistering blast beats and thunderous bass tones coming from the ever energetic King ring out.
Asking the crowd if they feel Immortal tonight and receiveing a deafening roar it’s clear to see that many of the fans here tonight want to hear old material. As with most Metal heads and particularly Black Metal, the new material is never as good as the classics. With that in mind we launch into the first Immortal song of the night where things begin to go wrong. Perhaps owing to their first official performance in the new line up much of the sound here tonight is unclear, Abbath’s guitar having tempermental volume levels ranging from ear piercing to light whispers leave more than to be desired. When a missed intro of “Count The Dead” passes by it begs the question as to the ability of the new drummer or was it the unannounced riffing of Abbath. Communication is one of the key aspects of any performance, understanding where each member is in the song is paramount to delivering a tight set. Perhaps owing to not being prepared or the ails of tonight’s sound either way the cue is missed.
Returning back to the plains of Blakshyrk the Immortal classic “One By One” appears, again plagued by the bad sound at tonight’s venue much of the weight behind the riff is lost leading to audience members scratching their heads. Known for his slightly unorthodox stage antics the man breaks out his classic “crab walk” and tongues are out a la Gene Simmons, which seems to be all in good humour until it begins affecting the performance itself. Speculations abound I would imagine that Abbath might have had a drink too many from the frozen lakes of the blizzard ridden fields. Despite these set backs however when the band get into “Fenrir Hunts” united in their sound Abbath brings that sense of staunch immovability that Immortal and his reputation are known for. Not quite going exactly how I would have imagined, Abbath’s performance tonight was neither terrible nor phenomenal. With Immortal’s previous reputation for all or nothing Abbath was strangely in between tonight. Sadly dampening the newer material from the man’s excellent new album hopefully tonight was a hiccup in the man’s solo career.