Mastiphal + Virophage @ The Black Heart, London

8th of May 2015
Review, photos & videos by Ancient Winds

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Just one day prior to the Incineration Festival (gathering extreme metal acts such as Impaled Nazarene, Keep of Kalessin, Melechesh and more), Old Empire Promotions and The Cult Never Dies welcomed Polish veterans Mastiphal as part of the Metal Mass concert in London on the 8th of May 2015. In the beginning, Polish black metallers Arkona (not to be confused with the Russian Folk/Pagan metal band signed at Napalm Records) were meant to headline the show but they have finally been replaced by their compatriots Mastiphal.

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It was the first time they played in the UK and British black metal horde Virophage was chosen as support act. It was a pity the promoters didn’t invite other legions but this first Metal Mass gig was mainly considered as a warm-up event to promote the very successful Incineration Festival. I think it was a great idea to launch this new monthly Metal Mass night at The Black Heart in Camden.

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Despite the very limited space offered by this venue, it delivers a very good sound for bands. As from this date, this monthly club night will consist of a short gig headlined by old cult black metal acts in the first place. Then, several DJ’s will deliver classic black, death, thrash and heavy metal songs only.

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This exclusive show was nearly sold out, which presages a promising future for the next Metal Mass nights. It was also good to see many Polish metalheads coming to support their idols, turning The Black Heart into a crowded place. Formed in 2010, Virophage (2/5) had the privilege to open the gig.

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This young London-based trio offered a poor performance although some people seemed to like their set. If you’re a fierce worshipper of the so-called “True black metal”, you may enjoy them. They have released one demo and one self-produced album “The Blessing of Annihilation” so far and are still unsigned.

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Given the low quality of their tracks, it’s not really surprising to see they haven’t found any label yet in the end. The compositions don’t show any personality at all and sound like something that has already been done thousands of times.

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The riffs are totally uninspired, making their songs weak and boring until the end. The only positive point I could notice was their nice corpse paint look. It’s really sad.

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I would have preferred they worked more on their music rather than on the lyrics and imagery. That’s the case for a big part of those “true” bands unfortunately.

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Mastiphal

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Regarding Mastiphal (2.5/5), I was expecting a lot from them since they made their great debut opus “For a Glory of All Evil Spirits, Rise for Victory” in 1995. Indeed, this blasphemous assault has become cult in the underground scene through the years.

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Formed in 1991, they were one of the first Polish black metal acts (along with Behemoth and Graveland) and released their first demo “Sowing Profane Seed” three years later. At that time, they were playing symphonic black metal but the horde went instantly on hiatus for ten years from 1999 to 2009.

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Then, they signed with the excellent label Witching Hour Productions (from their home country) who released their second assault “Parvzya” in 2011. Mastiphal sadly changed their musical style by removing the keyboards and adding a few thrash metal elements.

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Unfortunately, they delivered the wrong set that night with most of the songs taken from their disappointing last album. Of course, they performed their classic eponymous track from “For a Glory of All Evil Spirits, Rise for Victory” but there were no synths at all. It was like the song was incomplete. It just wasn’t the same anymore, believe me.

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Some guitar solos were interesting and were actually the only positive element noticeable in their live performance. However, the rest was just uninspired, soulless brutality and the crowd followed that same spirit by becoming out of control.

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I was very disappointed by their show and it was frustrating to see they’ve denied their early roots. The audience was absolutely conquered by their set, chanting their name many times. Well, good for them. Anyway, I’m not sure many of them enjoy their first album due to its extensive use of keyboards.

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After this disappointing gig, people could have the chance to win t-shirts, CDs and vinyls with raffle tickets. My friend Ross from Necrosadistic Goat Torture (excellent blackened death metal band signed at cult French label Drakkar Productions) was very lucky and won a Mysticum vinyl.

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Then, Dayal Patterson (author of the remarkable best-selling book “Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult”) and “guest star” Tchort (Green Carnation and ex-Emperor/Carpathian Forest/Blood Red Throne) performed as DJ’s until 2:00 AM. I had the great privilege to meet Tchort and get my two copies of Emperor’s legendary “In The Nightside Eclipse” signed by him. I strongly recommend you attend the next Metal Mass night (even if you don’t enjoy the bands) as you will have the possibility to win a nice item and meet another “guest star”!

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Special thanks to Dayal Patterson for bringing Tchort at The Black Heart!

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