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Live Report: Rotting Christ, Twilight Of The Gods, Negura Bunget @ Electrowerkz, London – 5th November 2013

Remember, remember, the 5th November, but not because of the ritualistic immolation of an effigy on a pyre. This 5th November should never be forgotten, for 3 bands trekked their way down from Damnation Festival (review pending) only a couple of days before, and swept their way through Electrowerkz in London in grand style. Despite the differences in style, all three had their roots in black metal, a genre known for its captivating atmosphere and slightly demented fanbase. Both were out in full force as the night ran its course, with an Italian death metal band to open the ceremony.

Rotting Christ tour poster

Said opening band were Krysantemia, an Italian act who were due to accompany the black trio through some of the dates of the European tour. While unfamiliar to many in the audience, they nonetheless delivered a convincing display of death-thrash. Rapid-fire hoarse growls were the order of the day, along with many a thrashy riff and thick bass line as companions. They provided a good neck warmup, as it was easy to switch into a head-nodding rhythm with their songs, and the applause from the audience was as heart-felt as the gratitude from singer Davide Puccini. Given Krysamentia seem to tour on quite a regular basis, I advise death-thrash fans to catch them the next time they do the rounds in Europe. And now to blacker territories…

Krysantemia live Electrowerkz FabiolaCopyright Fabiola Santini

The music of Negură Bunget lends itself to working both onstage or on stereo, a swirling blend of hypnotic traditional folk and furious black metal that enables the listener to slip into a trance. When the members took the stage, they quickly set about recreating “Pămînt”, a tribalistic ambient-laden intro which also featured pan pipes, acoustic guitars and various percussive instruments. That may not sound too black metal, but there was no doubt that was to come when vocalist Tibor Kati, somewhat resembling a shaman under a spell, switched his chanting to a howling shriek and the final section of black metal kicked in gloriously. “Cunoașterea tăcută” soon followed, with heartfelt crooning interspersed with rasping harsh vocals, and the tinkle of a pan flute amid the black metal. The two songs that came after were similarly engaging, as band members shifted around to play different instruments, including a phenomenally large horn. The mood lighting kept everything somber, although there was a fair amount of hair-whipping when the heavier parts came around. Closer “Dacia hiperboreană” was a simply stunning climax, starting out stately before whirling into a storm and emerging out the other side triumphantly. A humble “thank you” and Negură Bunget departed from the stage.

Copyright Fabiola SantiniCopyright Fabiola Santini

This next band’s sound was far removed from black metal, but all it took was one look at the members to establish that these guys had black metal in their blood. Twilight Of The Gods, the famous Bathory-tribute-turned-originals band, were here to bring heavy metal on a Tuesday night and play tracks from their top-notch début Fire On The Mountain. Onstage, in no particular order, were the following: Nick Barker, Rune Eriksen, Frode Glesnes, Alan Averill and Anton Reisenegger (filling in for Patrik Lindgren). If that doesn’t grab your attention, then the Bathory-tinged fist-pumping riffs and drums that blared out as they launched into “Destiny Forged In Blood” was sure to do the trick.

The guys were clearly comfortable in the slightly smaller surroundings, Alan in particular using it to get up close and personal with those on the barrier, locking eye contact with every one of them as he sang of history, war and religion. They managed to squeeze almost all the album into their allotted time, impressive given “The End Of History” reaches 8 minutes alone. Despite Anton being only a guest on the tour he slotted right in, grinning with every riff that flew from his fingers, and the others were also similarly engaged with the infectious music. By the time the title track rolled around, the entire crowd were on their side, shouting and raising their fists while Alan delivered a jaw-dropping set of high-pitched falsetto shrieks. It’s rare for black metal fans to have such wide smiles on their faces, but Twilight Of The Gods made it happen, and it was a wondrous experience.

Twilight Of The Gods live Electrowerkz Fabiola                                                     Copyright Fabiola Santini

And now for the headliners. The Greeks are nothing if not passionate creatures, and once you blend in the energy of such an extreme genre as black metal you know the crowd are in for a hell of a show. Literally. With the room packed out to see the Athenian legends, there was an electric tension in the air that befits the venue’s name. Rotting Christ strolled out onstage to thunderous whoops and yells, before promptly kicking off with the tribal “Χ Ξ Σ” that got heads moving to the hypnotic beat. Blast-off was achieved with “dub-sag-ta-ke”, and the melodic yet pummeling sound that the band are renowned for came flooding through the speakers, topped with frontman Sakis Tolis’ rhythmic harsh bark.

Whirling necks and blazing guitar riffs filled the next hour as the band hammered through their diverse catalog. Everything was there, from the newer much-lauded tracks of Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy through to their oldschool past of Thy Mighty Contract, and even a nod to Sakis‘ other band Thou Art Lord in the form of a cover of “Societas Satanas”. The band members were incredibly engaging with the crowd, particularly live guitarist George Emmanuel whose mad grin was infectious. It was difficult to see Themis Tolis behind his drumkit, but the crowd certainly heard him and his thundering footwork. And naturally, Sakis is a master of showmanship and crowd control, except for one notable exception later.

Rotting Christ live Electrowerkz Fabiola                    Copyright Fabiola Santini

While this diverse range of tracks was pouring out from the band, the crowd were going bananas. I still find it odd to see moshing at a black metal gig, but apparently the lunatics in the crowd weren’t deterred in the slightest, creating a fierce moshpit during “Non Serviam”. They also got some strange idea that it would be alright to try some crowd-surfing, despite A) there being no security behind the barrier and B) said barrier being less than a meter from the stage. Nevertheless, one guy fell through the gap and another landed on the stage, at which point he tackled Sakis in a hug while he was playing!, and then jumped back into the crowd. Sakis himself looked pretty bewildered, but I suppose you should expect such mania in a club venue.

In any case, the show went on in spectacular fashion, the band closed out with “Noctis Era”, and left the stage. However, the lights were still low, and the crowd knew there was more where that came from. Sure enough, Rotting Christ had energy to spare, and so the crowd were treated to two older numbers from Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers, “King Of A Stellar War” and “Archon”. While the gothic keyboards were somewhat drowned out in the cacophony, the songs nevertheless were a strong finish to a wonderful Tuesday night. Remember, remember, the 5th November.

Catch Rotting Christ on this tour in Europe, dates are here. Rotting Christ will be performing in Cyprus on 22nd December along with Mahakala, Ctulu and Frozen Winds. More info about that here.

http://youtu.be/jV4jcRYb1QA

All live photography in this article courtesy of Fabiola Santini of Rockerilla.

Angel
About Angel (104 Articles)
Angel is a headless chicken masquerading as a music addict, or potentially the other way round. He is the founder and editor of music website Broken Amp, as well as a publicist for Dewar PR, and otherwise offers proofreading and translation services. His musical taste covers most of the musical spectrum (including pretty much every metal genre under the sun), and he can be found enthusiastically rambling about music and other topics on Twitter: @markangelbrandt. Check out Angel's work online: http://www.markangelbrandt.com/ & http://brokenamp.com/

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