Date: 6th December 2018
Review By: Beandog
North London’s Nambucca is an Islington venue that holds its own against the popular alternatives in nearby Camden. It achieves this despite being located on the grubby looking Holloway Road, well away from the affluence of Upper Street and the busy hustle of the Angel.
Management prides itself on the fact they embrace all types of music here – This is evidenced by the venue’s list of past and upcoming events, which includes some nineties brit-pop, 50’s R&B, contemporary electronic beats and tonight – some blackened nekrofolk from Eastern Europe.
This evening’s event has been arranged by Chaos Theory, who are offering an impressive level of bang for your buck by featuring two black metal UK debuts for the crowd tonight.
For an additional treat, Chaos Theory have drafted in Brighton sludge-metal trio, Sollome to open up the show.
Solleme take their place on the stage and begin proceedings with a whisper. Gently picking out notes on a hushed guitar until the calm inevitably gives way to a set of crushingly loud nihilism from the young, seaside band.
There is no bassist among the musicians, but the sound is still thick and full. Much of the punch comes from the drummer, who steadily pummels his equipment with blunt, metronomic violence underneath the frontman’s tormented howls.
Alongside his bandmates, the guitar player wrenches discordant noise from his instrument. Head down and no fucks given.
Those who have turned up early enough to watch the opening performance seem impressed by the band’s deranged vitriol.
A few have moved forward into the space directly in front of the stage. There is an air of familiarity that suggests friends and fans alike have made the journey out to see the band perform tonight. On the strength of their show, I’d guess Solleme have earned themselves a few new followers too.
The first set has obviously held people’s attention. Many have waited until the final refrain of Solleme’s last song before heading off to refill their glasses. The dance floor clears as people head en masse to the bar, and during the time it takes for people to get another round in, more people arrive and the Nambucca fills up considerably.
When Au-Dessus emerge, the venue is stuffed to damn-near capacity.
Any space that isn’t taken up with bodies cramming themselves as close as possible to the stage is taken up by a theatrical, hazy fog that drifts among the people, carrying with it a wholly different atmosphere to everything that went before.
Au-Dessus have travelled from Vilnius to be here, and in a contrast to the opening band’s barking, confrontational style, the Lithuanian musicians present themselves with a distant mystique. Each band member is draped in a shroud to ensure their anonymity. The basking lights caught in the fog have transformed the venue from a North London music boozer into something much more intimate and clandestine.
The final, necromantic effect is completed when the band begins to play…
At this point I should confess to not hearing a note of Au-Dessus‘ music before attending tonight’s show. I had no expectations beyond a general understanding that they would fit somewhere along the spectrum of black metal.
What a revelation!
The band sound incredible tonight. Theirs is a wall of extreme sound, played with precision and furious tone. The melodic cacophony is set inside a light show that bombards the crowd with strobe effects that are equally as intense as the music.
The complete experience is hypnotic and transcendental. The band sound far bigger than the stage they are playing on and I find myself wondering why I haven’t heard people talking about Au-Dessus in reverential terms.
I’ll give them a hearty recommendation here. Should you get the opportunity to see them perform, I say, run! Do not walk. Do not pass Go! Do not collect £250! Book the damn ticket!
The vacuum left in the wake of Au-Dessus’ set buzzes with the anticipation of there being one last performance tonight.
Poland’s Furia are also a band who have a comparatively low profile in the UK. This is a contrast to the esteem in which they are held in their homeland, where essentially they have become Poland’s premier black metal band.
They describe themselves as nekrofolk, but according to frontman, Nihil, they would prefer to be known simply for playing “music.”
Indeed, rather than follow the conventions of the genre, Nihil and his bandmates Sars, A and Namtar are ploughing their own furrow; consciously distancing themselves from the limitations of the genre.
Consider that recent shows have taken place as part of a production of Wyspiański’s Wesele (at Krakow’s Stary Theatre) and it seems Furia are clearly operating outside the traditional standards of what one might associate with black metal.
They open their set with Zabieraj łapska from their most recent album (2016’s Księżyc Milczy Luty). From here, the elements that set Furia apart from their peers are immediately apparent.
There is a post-rock feel to their latter-day material, and as the opening song swings and lurches its way up to full volume, I am reminded of a description I gave to friend who was curious about the band – “They sound like Fugazi playing Celtic Frost!”
The band have an idiosyncratic approach. It carries enough heavy metal aesthetic to appeal to the headbangers, but allows them the freedom to tear up the rule book and take the music to interesting places, often within the same composition.
Songs like Opętaniec and Ogromna Noc (both from 2014’s Nocel) are built on a rousing clatter that fuels the spirited crowd. Their howls of support punctuate the gothic lustre of the music and have a visible impact on the band. Everyone on stage seems genuinely motivated by the positive energy in the room.
The performance returns to newer music via the textured and reverberated chords of Za ćmą, w dym. Nihil‘s deep vocals are interspersed with uplifting, layered guitars, driving towards a resonating crescendo that ultimately becomes greater than the space within which it is being performed.
The clear strength of Furia’s music is its ability to connect with people in a positive way. Their recorded work is unconventional and remote, to the point where I expected to experience something stark and aloof this evening – but watching a room full of people respond with bright optimism is surprising, and evidence of something quite complex and powerful occurring as the set continues.
It’s a primal response that demonstrates the musician’s ability to tap into something raw and human, then reflect it back, sharing it in a way that unifies all in attendance.
The crowd’s upbeat mood does not diminish as the band smash their way through a swaggering Grzej. They visit their earlier work with Są to koła and eventually draw things to a close with the snarling buzz of Zwykłe czary wieją.
A final cheer acts as acknowledgement of the success of tonight’s show. Furia leave the stage, having made a significant impression on the London crowd who are now dispersing into the night among excited chatter.
There have been no weak links this evening. It’s been an excellent gig – Credit to Chaos Theory for putting together such a strong bill and lets hope for a return visit from all of the bands that played tonight.
Furia photo credit:
Rafal Kotylak www.kotylak.pl