Abysmal Grief @ The Black Heart, London

28th of April 2015
Review, photos & videos by Ancient Winds


Just one month after welcoming doom/death metallers Saturnus and Marche Funèbre in London, Old Empire Promotions organized a new doom metal gig on the 28th of April 2015 at The Black Heart. This time, they had the great idea to open their imperial gates to Abysmal Grief who were on tour throughout Europe with their compatriots Saturnine. The Funerals Across Europe tour had only one UK date unfortunately and it was the first ever show of those Italian masters of doom metal on the British lands.

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I consider this European tour as a kind of accolade for them as they didn’t do many concerts since their formation in 1996. Abysmal Grief have already achieved cult status in Italy but are still struggling in spreading their name outside their home country. This show came just at the right moment for them so they could offer a funeral ceremony to the UK fans of the genre present in the capital. They were headlining the tour with their friends Saturnine as support act. In order to make the bill complete, Old Empire Promotions invited Eye of Solitude who previously played with both Saturnus and Marche Funèbre in March in the same venue.

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This gloomy show started with Saturnine (3/5), a young all-female band who only released an eponymous self-produced demo three years ago. They should be very happy to be there as being part of this tour is a great opportunity to spread their name and start building a fan base. And I have to say they would deserve it to be honest. These beautiful ladies mixed sludge and doom metal efficiently and delivered a nice, decent set. Katrien’s vocals are very good, which are the strongest element of their music in my opinion.

However, the compositions are clearly not at the voice’s level and there is some improvement to be made here. I’m absolutely not worried about this point as they’re still young and have enough time to improve their skills. It is important to highlight that their last song was very long and it wasn’t expected by the organiser at all. As a consequence, the gig was delayed and this had a negative impact on Abysmal Grief’s set unfortunately. They’re currently signed at US label Razorback Recordings that should release their first album “Mors Vocat” this year.

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Then, some candles and a candelabrum were installed in front of the stage for Eye of Solitude’s (3.5/5) dark and sorrowful set. Formed in 2010, these London-based Funeral doom/death metallers delivered a very good performance thanks to their experience.

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They have already made three albums and three EPs so far, most of them released by the promising French label Kaotoxin Records. Their compositions gather all the necessary ingredients to provide high quality songs of funeral doom art: magnificent layers of keyboards, deep death metal growls, sickly guitars, mournful atmosphere and slow tempo.

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Their only drawback is the lack of originality. Indeed, the songs don’t show any personality and sound like something that has already been done numerous times. But at least, they know very well their subject and how to play this style properly.

It was a pity we couldn’t hear some real synths throughout their show as they’re a crucial element of their music.

It would be a wise decision from them to hire a proper keyboardist in the future rather than pushing some pre-recorded synths into the background as they sounded too artificial. Anyway, I highly recommend that fans of the genre have a look at their discography.

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Due to the delay caused by Saturnine’s last track, it was time for Abysmal Grief (4/5) to offer a fantastic succession of funeral rites to the quiet audience present at The Black Heart.

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It was sad to see just a few people attending this gig because these Italian masters of atmospheric/horror doom metal really deserve more recognition. I became also frustrated when I noticed in the end that they only played around 45 minutes because of this delay.

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That’s the reason why Labes C. Necrothytus didn’t have enough time to communicate with the audience. But let’s pay tribute to the headliners’ brilliant performance. Since the release of their first demo “Funereal” in 1998, they have succeeded in forging their own style by mixing heavy and gothic influences with old-school doom metal.

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The addition of a few guitar solos and organ sounds make their art unique. Thus, it’s quite difficult to stick a label on their music. They did three album masterpieces (the best one being “Feretri” in my opinion) along with several EPs, demos and splits.

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Moreover, I love their aristocratic horror imagery, using elements from the old Italian gothic and giallo cinema (Emilio Miraglia, Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti, Renato Polselli, etc.). All songs were very well performed.

Looking like a priest, Labes has proven he’s not only a charismatic composer but also a talented keyboardist and his vocals had the merit of being very personal. As a result, his funeral oration conquered the audience’s respect. I simply can’t wait to see them again!

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