Date:- 25th February 2019
Review by Claudia Black
Photography by Claudia Black

Tonight I took a leisurely one mile walk from my home to the O2 Academy Islington to see three bands I have not seen before; I say three, there were four on the bill but the first band, Idle Hands, I had to miss due to previous commitments.

There was no queue outside the venue so getting in after the quick security check was no bother. I make my way up to the stage area, noticing as I go that the merchandise store in the upper foyer is bare! I wondered why that was only for a short time because when I entered the actual stage area I saw merchandise being sold near to the stage on the left. Question answered, I go to the photographers holding area and get ready for UADA.


Alas, UADA did not do it for me tonight. The band take to the stage all wearing hoods and take up their positions, then the set commences. For the first three tracks I just focus on my job of taking photos, which makes me feel mildly irritated because there were no spotlights and thus my pictures came out pretty dark even with the ISO cranked up and the shutter speed decreased as much as possible. Then when I left the pit a security guy told me and all the other photographers that we had to leave the holding area! ”Why?” I asked. In the 20 years that I have taken photos at this venue this has never happened before! Normally we could all sit down and review our work without having to take our kit through crowds of people to an area where we could review without being jostled or disturbed. It was not the security guy’s fault, but this irritation hung around me like a bad smell for the rest of the set; this new rule was petty. Adding this irritation to the fact that UADA were first on and playing to a cold audience just upped my irritation.

Anyway, before this review turns into a rant about petty officialdom let’s move on… There was no tension in the room, everything to me was a little flat. Apart from a few people at the front headbanging, everyone else was just standing there. Yes, I know that just standing there does not mean no one is engaged or enjoying themselves but I got the impression the crowd were lethargic, and because of this there was no energy transfer. Also, UADA are a band I have little experience of so I have had no prior acclimatisation. I had nothing jump out at me and grab my attention.

But when I got home I made a Spotify playlist of the set and this time I enjoyed what I heard! ”Snakes and Vultures” was brilliant, melodic, hypnotic and emphatically torturous, the tension building to resolution over 10 minutes. ”Cult of the Dying Sun” has sinuous and wiry guitar that could garrote instead of actual wire! This sounds a bit like Triptykon vocally. Opening track Natus Eclipsim got me up off my seat and pogo banging


Tribulation, another band I’ve not seen or heard before. Hailing from Stockholm, I enjoyed this band a lot more. My irritations had subsided to a point where I enjoyed this set. There was more of an atmosphere in the crowd that seeped through the gaps at the front where it wafted to the back like a Will O the Wisp on a mission. On it’s way it grabbed hold of the females in the crowd and caused plenty of screaming, screaming that had me bemused and chuckling! My attention was drawn to guitarist Jonathan Hulten whilst I was in the photo pit simply because he would not stand still. Dressed like a dead Victorian widow in mourning, he pirouetted and swirled around the stage swinging his guitar like a demented spectre on speed, with so much gusto on occasion I thought he’d trip and fall into the pit on top of me or someone else! I suppose it would have made for some interesting photos though.

The rest of the band were animated but less so, jumping up and spinning on monitors was kept in check! As for the set musically, it was an interesting mix of Gothic metal, death rock, death metal and a bit of punk, well put together and at times symphonic. Tracks from all three of their albums (The Children Of The Night, The Formulas Of Death and new album Down Below) were played in an eleven track set. Stand out tracks for me were the death rock-like The LamentThe World with its clean, elevating guitar, which reminded me of Yngwie Malmsteen, the Indian sounding Ultra Silvam from The Formulas Of Death, and the punk sounding Melancholia that reminded me of the Sex Pistols crossed with Velvet Revolver and The Healthy Junkies. The vocals on this are of a sad corpse in a bad mood. There is a lot here to like and there is lot more to explore in this band!

Gaahl’s WYRD

Now, Gaahl is an interesting character! About 10 years ago I came across a load of videos about the Norwegian Black Metal scene from its inception in the late 80’s onwards. There was one video that had a large segment with Gaahl in it where he allowed some journalists to visit him at his isolated farm in the Espedal district of Norway, just north of Bergen. I found him a fascinating character: intense of personality and stare whilst at the same time being intimidating and esoteric! Having said that, I am not overly familiar with his musical output from Gorgoroth to God Seed and on to Trelldom. There are some things you mean to try but for whatever reason you end up not getting around to it until finally you get the opportunity to see this interesting person in the flesh. And you get to hear a few tracks from all three bands to boot, all packaged up for Wyrd!

He takes to the stage after the band have taken their positions and after a few moments the set commences with Steg (Step), a heavy and intense track which is repetitive and full of dark atmosphere! As I listen my mind walks heavily under low, dark clouds up a gravelly path between trees to I know not where… the intensity only broken at around 8 minutes in with some jaunty walking bass. Someone in the crowd shouts out ”Marry me Christian!” Not one utterance in reaction came in reply to this man’s pleading. I was looking at my camera at that moment so I missed any piercing stare that could burn a hole right through a forehead, if indeed it came!

Aldrande Tre (aging tree) had tremolo picking and machine gun drums, with enough force here to fell that ageing tree! Ghosts Invited from the upcoming Wyrd album GastiR is brilliant! Portentous vocals diverge away from the usual death growls, accompanied by excellent musicianship. The gaps between tracks would sometimes feel like chasms and I’d wait in these time-stretched moments for someone in the audience to break the tension with a witticism and frustrated quip. But apart from the ”will you marry me” shout early on, none came, and it was a release when the tension was broken by the commencement of the next track. Tonight was black metal for the discerning listener and the connoisseur; you have to be a person of stamina, intensity, curiosity and patience to listen to and enjoy Gaahl’s Wyrd. After the show I spent a few hours delving into the back catalogue and I can say that I have that patience!

Gaahl’s Wyrd




Set Lists:


Copyright © The Independent Voice 2019