UNDERWORLD, LONDON Swedish firebrands lead an unceremonious charge
It’s not as if the headliners couldn’t sell out the venue alone, but it’s a sign of both how strong the underground scene remains, and how a bill of four different but committed-to-thecause bands can become bigger than the sum of its parts that the venue is packed for openers attIC. Understandably missing their full, gated stage set, they rise above their baseline purpose in life, to pay tribute to Mercyful Fate and King Diamond – suitably bedecked frontman Maester Caliostro’s vocals even more spooky in their accuracy – through sheer enthusiasm and ability to build up an atmosphere that’s like Manna to the crowd. Repping for the Swedish BM scene tonight, complete with street gang attire, baleful melody that suggests stars rotting in the heavens and a visceral momentum that seems to draw power from an unearthly realm, Stockholm’s VaLKYRJa bulldoze through the fired-up hordes. A cult act in their own right, Finland’s aRCHGoat find a rich seam of potency in ultra-primitivism, whether playing at a sulphur-steaming mid-pace or upping the tempo to a brain-rattling yet static groove that unleashes Hell through its commanding and unremitting presence. Lord Angelslayer’s vocals are a rumble from the darkest depths, but one that resonates on the kind of atavistic level that has an entire venue losing their shit. With Mortuus at the helm, and the irrepressible Morgan as their driving force, MaRDUK are still a waste-laying entity, playing with a malicious fervour that erupts into permanent moshpits. Mortuus is a bastion of ill will, grimacing through sizzling, humanityon-hot-plate classics such as opener Panzer Division Marduk through the mace-clenched groove of Werwolf from latest album Viktoria and the mindfrying current of Into Utter Madness. Sometimes you just want your black metal unceremonious and rampant, and tonight Marduk deliver it with an exhilarating rush of venom to boot.