Date: 23 January 2021
Review by: Ro
Black metal has always been theatrical and the genre as whole has grown to its modern day monstrous height and notoriety through chaos, notoriety and tangible evil that encases you in its frosty grip.How then, to transmit this essence via sterile screens in a global pandemic? Can one become truly transfixed by evil in ones own living room?
Following on from a streamed 2 day SteelChaos festival in October 2020, the team behind SteelFest have turned their hand to regular live music offerings via their high quality streaming subscription service, SteelTV.The gig was held in Finland and the self dubbed “live catastrophe” was beamed directly into homes around the globe in real time.
Blood Chalice hail from Finland and provide aural blasphemy in the form Black Death “war” metal in a similar vein to celebrated genre founders and fellow Finns, Archgoat. Blood Chalice have arrived later to this scene than many of the progenitors and have brought forth two recorded offerings to date – Demo in 2016 and 2017 full length – Sepulchral Chants of Self-Destruction. Songs run on the short and even the full album clocks in at just over 30 minutes.What both albums may lack in length they more than make up by the sheer pulverising brutality of their content with song after song providing another bone juddering proclamation glorifying all that is evil and perverse.
The following bears witness to a 30 minute assault on all that is holy…in 1080p, of course. The opening scenes are laden with atmosphere with band members standing in menacing silence, heads bowed. Candles flicker in an elaborate candelabra reminiscent of a certain Darkthrone album cover. Billowing threads of smoke provide an air of mystique with almost liturgical overtones. Frontman P.H sports some minimalist corpsepaint and on his face and head. His bare torso is largely obscured by not one, but two inverted cross necklaces which appear the size and likely heft of femur bones. Not one to go halves with a look, both forearms are adorned with eye watering long and sharp spike sleeves.The guitarist and bassist sport voluminous hooded robes, their faces enshrouded in darkness, candlelight glinting on their nail spiked leather sleeves. The drummer has opted to without, likely so he can play with some acuity.Not to miss creating another health and safety hazard, even the microphone is festooned with a generous amount of barbed wire
The long and foreboding silent intro creates a false sense of security, and the eerie silence is shattered as they launch into The Passage. the second track on their 2017 full length Sepulchral Chants of Self-Destruction is communicated in a furore of fetid, ferocious growls snarled over clamouring drums and relentless riffs.A brief audio sample interlude of a maddeningly ecstatic preacher glorifying Satan and ecstatic calls of hail Satan before the band launch into title track Sepulchral Chants of Self-Destruction. Vocals sound belched up from the pit itself surrounded by a vortex of sound that could drag you down to the bowels of hell. High pitched, possessed shrieks emitted from the hooded figures add to the chaotic atmosphere
Following another brief palate cleanser in form of another audio sample praising Satan, they launch full force into The Coven which opens with solid down tuned riffs, each pummeling the listener more than the last.
Another spoken word interlude affords the vocalist time to shed one of his undoubtedly heavy pieces of neckware before holding it aloft while announcing the title of the next song: Unholy Angel Of All. This provides both shrieked and guttural vocal and tremolo picked power chords that could easily take your eye out.A hypnotic chanting interlude provides brief respite before plunging headlong into Ritual Birth of the Antichrist. Some slower, doomier riffs buy a little breathing space before the pace and brutality ramp up.
Moody foreboding instrumental interlude before the abyssal riffs herald the beginning of Conjuration of the Fire God. Vitriol spills from P.H’s mouth as suffocating atmosphere abounds.Surreal soundscapes provide a few moments to recoup before the next onslaught of Confession which channels pure aggression in the rawest, filthiest format.
On the penultimate song Blaze of your Faith, P.H raises a chalice high and pours red liquid all over his face and neck. The show concludes with the final track from Sepulchral Chants of Self-Destruction -bestial unification.The band fall back to their menacing silent stance to a soundtrack of screams, moaning and the plaintive bleats of cloven hooved animals. Rivulets of liquid course down P.H’s face and chest.The moans and bleats subside and P.H leans forward to extinguish the candles thus concluding a potent, putrid and punishing dose of blackened death metal imbued with hatred and disgust for all but the forces of darkness. Lux Nox.