UN­DER­WORLD, LON­DON Swedish fire­brands lead an un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous charge

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Live Reviews - JONATHAN SELZER

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.

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