4th July 2019
Review By: Pete Mutant
Photography By: Ya Cheng
Carach Angren have avoided this land long enough; it was time set things right and have them finally grace the Glaswegian stage. They just played Birmingham for the first time a few days prior so they were on the warpath, bringing their dark symphony to yet unmolested parts. They were just under a month into their European headlining tour, having conquered a decent swath of the mainland. It was now our turn to get our taste of horror.
Their supporting lineup were a bit off my radar apart from Wolfheart who I honestly was a little nonplussed about having heard some of their music prior to this being announced. The Finnish group were high up in the bill for this evening, getting a slot right before the main event. The other bands I had never come across so I was going in with a clean slate, a blank canvas ready to be painted with new colours, well, black mainly. Completing the lineup we had two USA-based bands in Thy Antichrist and Nevalra, who this year released their first full length album in ‘Conjure The Storm’. It wouldn’t be a proper 4th of July with some colonial fireworks after all, so we were all set for the night’s music.
The venue of this evening was Audio, right in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre. A second home to me on many nights but not one as frequented this year. Been a fairly dry run of gigs for myself but that was my problem and the dry spell was tsunamied last night with Ministry and 3TEETH at SWG3. Audio was primed and there was a reasonable amount of the city’s black metal contingent already being entertained by the first band of the night.
Nevalra [3/5] were in full swing and a few songs in by the time I arrived. They were in the midst of a quality riff sequence and the three piece from Missouri were going at it furiously. They were making quite a thunderous noise and some heads were banging down the front in response. The sound was quality and the tone was well honed. It was all about vocalist/guitarist Scott Eames who was conducting the music with a dark grace. The leadwork he put in was precise and pretty sensational. He was the only member in corpse paint but this may have been due to his double duties for tonight playing in the next band, Thy Antichrist.
Nevalra were exclusively playing stuff off their new album and we got the title track next. The tact was different as this song had much more of a melodic focus. The riff was Maidenesque, flowing but powerful and Scott Eames opened the vocals with an almighty scream. This was by no means your second wave black metal as it was a much more modern take on the genre.
They finished their set with ‘Prophet For Profit’, which kept things on the more melodic side. There was plenty of variety though as the band took the initiative, going from a clean section into the heavier gear. There were some “hey hey hey”s from the crowd and we got some more quality guitar soloing before the set was drawn to a close. Not too bad at all and a good way to get us all lubed up for the next act of the night.
Thy Antichrist [4/5] were something else entirely. Full-on corpse paint and a gimmick that was beyond anything else we would see tonight. Their frontman Antichrist 666 was draped in robes and carried a long staff with the head of Baphomet fixed to it. Once the robes were cast aside, the full body design on Antichrist 666 was revealed and the spectacle began. The music was really chaotic at first and almost unintelligible. Couldn’t really make out the vocals at first either but some of the better bits of the song came through, eventually.
Things were much more pronounced during the next track, ‘Destruction Times’, which opened up with some pained screams from the backing track. Things were more uniformed, much more traditional and more recognisable as a black metal track. We got some harsh melody and some well-timed switches in tempo. The lead worked into some nice harmonisation which capped off a very decent song. There was more variety next with ‘Where Is Your God’ but the highlight of their set and possibly the night was the next track ‘Metal To The Bone’.
‘Metal To The Bone’ had everything that I could ever want in a black metal song. Riffs, blasts, screams, switches, breaks: you name it, it had it. The band’s presence was matching the music and the gimmick was becoming more of a natural state. The guitarists had plenty of energy, the drumming was thunderous and the bass was keeping the rhythm tight. Of course, Antichrist 666 was quite the entertainer himself and was all about getting the horns up from the crowd. They finished the set with ‘Desolation’ which had plenty of bottom end dirtiness, pace and all round quality that you could ask for. The night seemed to have been made already as that got the necks loosened and had plenty of thrills for the punters.
The penultimate band Wolfheart [3/5] were a crowd puller for sure and many fans were sporting their merch in the now fairly compact audience. They opened with ‘Everlasting Fall’ which had a very folk-aligned backing track before things kicked in, a bit. It’s a much more accessible style of metal but also a bit static too. Things were kept pretty structured and the only real flair was coming from the impressive lead work of Mika Lammassari. The second track was more like it and it got a great reception from the audience when the notes were played. ‘Aeons Of Cold’ was powerful in a raw and emotive sense.
Fans were clapping along and there was a real sense that Wolfheart were captivating the lot of them. People were swaying with the tide of crushing melody and quite a few were headbanging when the heavier parts kicked in. I found it more interesting when they used their death metal skills like during the beginning of ‘Breakwater’, which had the first mosh pit opened. The heavy parts just didn’t go far enough for me and we went into very similar song structures as heard before. Consistent, yes, but exciting, no. Must have seen vocalist/guitarist Tuomas Saukkonen do the same guitar pattern a million times. The crowd were right into it so guess it was just myself who wasn’t overly impressed.
‘Zero Gravity’ also had its moments and many fans were headbanging along to the heavier parts then clapping along to the more simmering melody. Anyone else seeing a format here? They went into ‘The Hunt’ next and afterwards bassist Lauri Sivonen advised that their drummer for tonight was a stand in, having only come into the fold very recently. This was impressive as there was little fault to be found with the drummer’s performance, I was just a bit bored in all honesty. Here’s my bullet point summary of each individual’s performance:
Bassist – only guy that speaks English apparently…
They finished up the set with ‘Ghost of Karelia’ and got a roar of approval from the crowd as they took their bow. It was now time for the main event and Carach Angren were going to finally take the stage. Events were all leading to this point of course and the excitement was building.
Ghost of Karelia
Carach Angren [4/5] took to the stage one by one. First we had drummer Namtar walk on stage sporting a horned mask. He was joined not long after by live guitarist Bastiaan Boh then by keyboardist Ardek. Smoke was billowing as we were awaiting the start to the music. Eventually, frontman Seregor joined the party and we kicked off with ‘The Sighting is a Portent of Doom’ after the short intro of ‘Electronic Voice Phenomena’. The rhythm was choppy but very heavy and, with the backing synths swirling, the dramatic themes of horror were being unleashed.
Vocalist Seregor could spit out the lyrics with extreme rapidity. Another rapid element was the blasts from drummer Namtar who had removed his mask and focused in on conjuring some supernatural force for the show. All the elements were working and the crowd were getting more and more into it. The first pit for Carach Angren broke out during ‘The Carriage Wheel Murder’ after Seregor commanded some aggression, but it dissipated quickly. The pit made a bigger resurgence towards the end of the song but it wouldn’t be a prominent crowd feature throughout the set.
I said earlier that Thy Antichrist may have had the best gimmick of the night but Carach Angren had one all of their own. Their appearance looks like Tim Burton’s take on Lovecraft and each individual had their own flair to formulate the spell of their performance. Seregor was a solid conductor of the audience, at times he would wave his hands as if he was controlling the motion of his hundred or so puppets in the crowd. When he asked “NOW WHO OF YOU WOMEN WANT TO BE MY BLACK QUEEN TONIGHT?” all the ladies in the venue screamed in response.
‘Black Queen’ brought some more spectral spectacle as a mannequin was revealed which had sections missing including the face and had “SEX + BLOOD” carved on the chest. Seregor brandished a knife then proceeded to slit the throat of the mannequin which released a small trickle of blood. Quite the sight to go along with the unnerving sound that the band were putting out. There was more to come as Seregor walked off stage then came back on wearing the crowned skull mask for ‘Pitch Black Box’, which brought some heavy muted chords which was overlayed with some disturbing keys coming in from Ardek.
The set was rolling on and nearing its end. The knife was out again as ‘The Funerary Dirge of A Violinist’ blasted out. Seregor was mimicking the motion of a malevolent violin being played as the music chopped and slashed in drastic flux. “THE LANGUAGE OF MUSIC CANNOT BE SPOKEN IN DEATH” was snarled out before an almighty scream rang out. A feast for the senses indeed but the feast was nearing its completion and it did so in the form of ‘Bloodstains On The Captain’s Log‘. Seregor thanked us for being awesome and that was the end, for now. Four bands, a lot of extreme music and an extreme all you can eat for the senses. That should fill the bellies of the local black metal fans for a while but they’ll be asking for more soon. We could all make space for more of that.
Electronic Voice Phenomena
The Sighting is a Portent of Doom
The Carriage Wheel Murder
Spectral Infantry Battalions
In de naam van de duivel
Pitch Black Box
A Strange Presence Near the Woods
Heretic Poltergeist Phenomena
The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist
Bloodstains On The Captain’s Log