HIGH ON FIRE and ENSLAVED go for heathen glory.
THE DOME, LONDON Anthemic heathens join forces to take you to a higher state
ThE DomE hAs become one of London’s finest venues in recent years, and it’s packed to the rafters by the time Norway’s blackened prog metal veterans EnsLAVED take to the stage and blast straight into Roots Of The Mountain from their magnificent 2012 opus, Riitiir. Three songs are taken from their latest album, E, with Sacred Horse in particular standing out, its Middle Eastern influences and grand ambition making it sound as majestic as the title would suggest. A huge cheer erupts when vocalist Grutle Kjellson announces
Isöders Droning – a song never played in London before, and judging by the sublime performance, it’s difficult to understand why it’s taken 24 years for this cut to be played in the capital. The chanted choral vocals of Havenless and Grutle’s experimental manipulation of warping electronic sounds showcase perfectly why Enslaved are considered a cut above many of their peers. They end on a frenetic Allfoǫ , ðr Oðinn, a song first heard on their 1992 Yggdrasill demo tape. It brings their set to a satisfying conclusion by reminding us of their roots and the progressions they’ve made over 26-years.
An ominous low murmur announces the arrival of tour co-headliners high on fiRE, and they careen straight into an electrifying rendition of classic Blessed Black Wings cut Sons Of Thunder.
Frontman Matt Pike has had a very busy 2018, what with the revival of stoner doom legends Sleep also taking up his time, but he shows no signs of fatigue at all, bringing the party through his thunderous vocals and foundation-shaking riffs. High On Fire’s furious stoner jams are the perfect soundtrack to guzzle beer to and, with their wall of amplifiers threatening to touch
The Dome’s roof, there’s a no-nonsense vibe to their setup. Matt’s cry of “Smokin’ weed!” unsurprisingly gets a rapturous response before the band steamroller straight into a breakneck version of Carcosa. At first, HOF appear to be playing it safe by ignoring cuts from their recently released eighth album, Electric Messiah, but when they do bring out Steps Of The Ziggurat, it sounds colossal. The highlight of the set by far, though, is a monumental run-through of the title track from their 2010 masterpiece, Snakes Of The Divine.
If ear-shattering volume and sludgy, tar-thick riffs sound like heaven to you, then there is no doubt that High On Fire are our electric messiahs.