If you hap­pened

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

to catch Ba­tushka when they hit the UK last year, the chances are that you’ll have over­heard some heated de­bates over who is the true face of, er, non-faceshow­ing Pol­ish black metal – Ba­tushka be­ing the scene-stealing rel­a­tive new­com­ers, tonight’s head­lin­ers con­sid­ered the gen­uine article. Both bands have reached break­through sta­tus – could have sold out a far big­ger venue than the Un­der­world if they’d wanted – and it’s a sign of their pulling power that the venue’s al­ready full for open­ers Their de­pres­sive take on BM reaches epic, heart-scorch­ing pro­por­tions as front­man Nathan Van­der Vaet holds on to his mic like Ian Cur­tis back from the dead. If lose some mys­tique points by sound­check­ing in civvies in front of the crowd, the ac­tual, spikeadorn­ed bar­rage that fol­lows al­lows no space be­yond be­ing to­tally im­mersed in the mo­ment. Not so much songs as bru­tally ef­fi­cient dis­plays of power, this is death metal as sput­ter­ing gun tur­ret, hurl­ing fusil­lades of blast­beats through a mi­as­mic whorl of riffs and parched chants to im­pla­ca­bly and pretty much mys­ti­cally ar­rest­ing ef­fect.

Some­what dis­ap­point­ingly, Mgła’s pre-set sound­check re­veals their faces, prov­ing at the very least that they’re not ac­tu­ally the four horse­men of the Apoc­a­lypse. But prop­erly suited up in reg­u­la­tion leather jack­ets, hoods and mesh, there’s a bleak power erupt­ing through the un­com­fort­ably packed venue that soon gets trans­fig­ured into some­thing cel­e­bra­tory. A band who’ve kept gen­uine kvlt sta­tus while prov­ing son­i­cally ac­ces­si­ble, at their heart is the same kind of gothic, 80s pulse that drives the twilight-jour­ney­ing likes of Nacht­my­sium and Tribu­la­tion. Mgła weld it with both an oth­er­worldly, at­mo­spheric level of con­vic­tion and a gristly momentum that binds a sar­dine-packed crowd to states of rapt, re­ver­ber­at­ing won­der. THE LEX­ING­TON, LON­DON

Wrex­ham’s MaM­Moth Weed WIzaRd BaS­taRd rus­tle up a cosmic, doom-laden stoner storm that is much bet­ter than their ridicu­lous moniker would sug­gest. Their se­cret weapon is vo­cal­ist Jes­sica Ball; her ethe­real, sul­try vo­cals glide over the mu­sic, giv­ing the band a hyp­notic, in­tox­i­cat­ing fu­sion that sounds like Chelsea Wolfe fronting Sleep. After a few minutes of war­bling feed­back, they hazily and heav­ily col­lide into the open­ing riff of The Space­ships Of Ezekiel from their ca­reer-best lat­est al­bum, Yn Ol I An­nwyn. The mu­sic is pow­er­ful but it’s ob­vi­ous that some­thing is off, with Jes­sica show­ing vis­i­ble frus­tra­tion that The Lex­ing­ton’s PA can’t han­dle their ex­pan­sive, atom-smash­ing sound. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s Jes­sica’s vo­cals that suf­fer most, a barely per­cep­ti­ble soft mur­mur sunk in the vor­tex of swirling, sludge-tex­tured riffs that peel out around her. Given that the tech­ni­cal is­sues are pre­dom­i­nantly with vo­cals, it seems a wise move to launch into the in­stru­men­tal Katyusha, although at 13 minutes in length, it does start to drag a little to­wards the end. MWWB are an ex­cel­lent band, vastly su­pe­rior to many of their stoner con­tem­po­raries, but tonight just sim­ply isn’t their night.

Mgła: the non-face of Pol­ish black metal

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