28/11/09 - The Electrowerkz, London.

After an uneventful journey down to London (only driving round and round in Golders Green for half an hour. London isn’t North!), we pulled into the Electrowerkz a good few hours early. With not a lot going on, it was time for a spot of mid-day drinking. The venue itself is one of those typical dive bars, an old factory converted into a club, so the facilities inside aren’t ideal. Unisex toilets, just planting your cheeks on the toilet seat is enough to get an STD, there is always a lingering smell of sweat about the place, bizarre stick-like cyber-Goths would wander up from the club below, and the sound is never particularly great in there (though consistently its been ok / never terrible the last few times I’ve been). Sounds like the perfect place to hear some ugly sounding Death metal really.
We missed SKALDIC CURSE completely, though considering the amount of people who were still drinking outside or in the pub (pineapple cider? I suppose it at least has some ‘apple’ in there…), there can’t have been too many who did manage to see them. So what noise does a band make when nobody is around to hear them? Like VoiVod and Mayhem, apparently (apparently…).


After years of moving slowly, GRAVE MIASMA have suddenly burst into action since the release of their mini album ‘Exalted Emanation’, playing three gigs in three days plus an upcoming performance in Germany planned not too far away in the future. You’d think they’d be tiring themselves out with this workload, but they’ve become an extremely accomplished live band, their new songs meld seamlessly into their setlist. Perhaps even entirely new material tonight, I don’t think they played any tracks from the demo what with their shorter set time being openers. These new songs contain the same abyssic qualities as the older material, with slightly improved compositions (better pacing of the songs, greater variety, leads are more complex, generally tighter all round), so seeing these songs live gives them a whole new quality. Surrounded by candles, blood and bone, cloaked in darkness and smoke, Death or Black metal, whatever you want to call it, they have a distinctive aura that gives them much more than the common band. Admittedly I was slightly disappointed to find they hadn’t used the ‘ol war paint for this gig. Yet looking closely at the photos, now I realise why; head to foot, they were soaked in blood, but due to the low lighting in the venue this wasn’t all too clear at the time. Looks like they’ll need to borrow their blood from NOCTURNAL GRAVES next time!


Not only was the blood garishly bright red, it was glowing and probably tasted like that pineapple cider (i.e. chemical gash). Ok, so whilst the blood they were using was obviously fake, the band themselves certainly weren’t! They pulverised the venue to dust with blistering Deathrash, this blitz could easily have blown the roof off. Not only playing blindingly fast, but the riffs, the riffs, the riffs! Ah! So relentless, one riff piled on top of the other, after another, even the MERCILESS ‘Souls of the Dead’ cover (a nice choice) could have been one of their own. As they’re employing a drummer / vocalist, they didn’t really have much of a visual focus at the front of the stage, a front man if you will. This didn’t hold back the guitarist or bassist though, they were flaying their necks throughout the set as they Destroyer-ed (uuurgh, you thought that was bad? How about Destruktor-ed? I’ll stop now…) the crowd with 7 tracks from their album, with ‘Aggressive Exterminator’, ‘When the Demons Feast’, ‘Satans Cross’ (Kneel doooown! To break down your will! Submit to your master!), and the one for the ladies (quite a few tonight, good to see) ‘Whore of Sodom’ being some of the highlights. If that wasn’t enough, two new tracks ‘The Lord Encomium’ (Economicon? Economikrisis?) and ‘Inner Void’ were played (both very promising indeed!) along with two covers, the afore mentioned MERCILESS cover and closing up with SARCOFAGO’s ‘Desecration of Virgin’. An excellent set from them, a fine way to finish off their mini European tour.


How to follow up those two eh? With DEAD CONGREGATION perhaps? At the moment, you’d be hard pressed to find a better Death Metal band. When you take into account that with Graves of the Archangels (easily one of the finest albums of his decade) they seemed
disappointed with the sound production, that can only suggest to me that they’re capable of achieving far more! Surely not possible? But after seeing them a few weeks before in Berlin, heh, lets just say their next album is very eagerly awaited! As for this London gig, the Electrowerkz was never going to give them the greatest sound, let alone contain this torrent of impending doom. Still, they pushed the venues capabilities to the limits, so once 'Martyrdoom' crackled out from the amps, the shivers were running down my spine. Then the machine gun (helicopter gunship?) drumming folds in to shake the foundations of the place. Building up, building up, then all cascading down with 'Hostis Humani Generis', hellishly thick Death Metal at its finest. They still aren’t the most striking visual band, quite active on the stage but not charismatic, they stick to ‘doing the business’ opposed to any theatrics (weren’t they wearing the same for the Triumph of Death gig the other year?). Ah, but their music does the talking, and this band really performed tonight. Largely it was material from the album, definitely 'Subjugation', possibly ‘Lucid Curse’ from the mini, and a couple of new tracks (once more, very promising!). Eventually the smoke descends on all present, as they close up with that megalith of a closer, 'Teeth into Red'. This has a modern and relevant sound, yet still is aware of its past. This is drenched in a dark morbid atmosphere, yet still has plenty of hooks, that catchiness, is great to listen to. This is fiery and aggressive, leaves nothing behind, yet still doesn’t degenerate into grunting mindless posturing. This is Death. Death. Death. And still its very fucking Metal. 


Ondskapt. Live. ‘But Black Metal doesn’t work live! They should only work in the studio!’ I hear you say. Yet did it work out for them tonight? No – but it certainly
could work. There were hints of the grand but cataclysmic atmosphere they’d captured on the albums, penetrating the darkness, but sadly this hideous apparition didn’t last long, as the smoke cleared we were presented not with a vision of horror but merely some bored looking guitarists and a slightly over enthusiastic vocalist. Far, far too many inconsistencies in their performance. I can understand they might have wanted to portray a serious and devoted impression, but their bassist, well, I’ve seen more life in a corpse. The guy did not move the entire night, not once. Yet just next to him was the vocalist, prowling the stage, guzzling down the drinks (I thought they were total abstainers these modern Svenska Satanistis?) and trying to work over the crowd. Too inconsistent, but wasn’t that how their first album fared, one moment riding the waves of darkness, the next beached by a mediocre filler? They played maybe a couple of tracks from Draco sit mihi dux (choose a number between I and VI), a few from Doedens Evangelium and perhaps some new material, but nothing that really caught my attention. It is possible to make Black Metal work live (just look at the likes of INQUISITION, serious, focused AND capable of evoking a haunting atmosphere live), but ONDSKAPT have quite a lot to be working at to get to that level, presently they’re quite average.

           Callum Downes