Articles by Joseph Norman
First Flight of the White Raven is a success, as long as you judge it fairly. If you’re a Wardruna fan, and the band release this show for purchase then you’ll want to buy it. . . For those who tuned in, it was Wardruna alive, bursting with energy and splendour, if not live with the full capacity for majesty that that experience entails. The white raven itself is prophetic, as Einar explained: a symbol of hope – and that’s something we all need now, more than ever.
This heady mix is gloriously strung together into a deeply impressive and coherent concept album of the very best kind, told in VOID’s signature language of brutal and unpredictable riffs. Here, that style is expanded by their most eclectic range of genres to date, the fullest, richest production of their oeuvre, and all wrapped up in the enigmatic and eye-catching artwork of Metastazis. Pulling off their grandiose ambition with panache, this is VOID’s best work yet, and one that demands obsessive replaying.
Our hero’s journey culminates in the nasty, scrabbling execution of ‘Planetary Hypnosis’, harking back to some of the extraterrestrial excoriation of ‘Cosmic Dreams’, broken up with spiraling phaser breaks and reoccurring, overlapping, dual lead lines. By the time the album concludes, after around forty-seven minutes, swirling off into the stellar void, it’s clear that Visitations From Enceladus is essential listening for anyone interested in smart, complex, and rewarding extreme metal that tells a fine science-fictional adventure story. And I’m sure that Cryptic Shift will be telling us many more for years to come.
Judging by the array of fans of all ages in the crowd tonight, The Wildhearts once again prove themselves to be the rock band of their generation and of many more to come.
In a magisterial feat of heaviness, 3TEETH play a finale triptych of ‘Time Slave’ (like a long-lost and souped-up Fear Factory outtake from Demanufacture), ‘Tabula Umbra’ (like being trampled by a T-1000) and ‘Master of Decay’ (like a direct hit from the Death Star).
What they lack in originality, Twin Temple transcend magnificently in pure quality, enthusiasm and an irresistible sense of joyous magnetism, worthy of the Great Horned One herself.
The master of disaster has re-entered his kingdom in the mountain of black, and his recent struggles will hopefully feature as nothing more than a blip in a career of unending grimness. Abbath continues to rise as only the true black metal badger-king can. . .
A Forest of Stars – wrapping psychedelia, black metal, folk music, and prog rock up in a kind of skewed Neo-Victorian package – are certainly ambitious and, like VOID, have always aimed for a complex yet coherent aesthetic that unifies the band’s disparate elements, which Stars largely achieve, even if it can be pleasantly muddled at points on record.
Regardless of the odd ordering and slightly uneven feel of the line-up tonight, it was clearly a monster, and further proof that anything stamped by Sublime Terror Promotions, Cult Never Dies and/or Zero Tolerance magazine indicates a grimly exciting badge of quality.
What I really like about COL is how well they play the quiet before the storm, the steady rise and the heavy drop, the brooding swell and the tidal wave – in other words, the essence of the post-metal sound that they laid the foundations for.
Earth segue into ‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’ from Primitive and Deadly, and the opening riff resolves into two absolutely glorious open chords, which sound simply wonderful. For that’s often the best aspect of Earth’s sound: every repetition establishing the riff more firmly in your mind until you appreciate how well-crafted that it is, and how the very final part of that riff leaves you gleefully anticipating its reoccurrence.
If you’re remotely interested in listening to guitar music, do your ears a favour and go and see these guys right now (ideally supporting Sunn O))) ). Watching Caspar Brötzmann Massaker perform takes me back to my earliest experiences listening to rock music, and reminds me of everything that made the electric guitar sound so exciting in the first place – so dangerous, so limitless, and so utterly essential to living.
I think Dani Filth is one of the best extreme metal vocalists around: ultra-distinctive, versatile, and not to mention an outstanding song- and lyric-writer. And Cruelty is possibly his finest work . . . it’s clear from this show that they’re going through something of an internal renaissance, bouncing back rejuvenated. Even if you missed this special show, now is a very good time to go and see Cradle of Filth.
For a band that emerged into the world over thirty years ago, Mayhem are still controversial, challenging, impossible to ignore and their music still captures the essence of the nasty old Norwegian black metal that it always has.
The Wizard may have cleaned up their sound a little since the old days. . . But what’s left is a very solid band. . . There were motorbike chases, lesbian vampires, and leather-clad dominatrixes on the screen? Really? I hadn’t noticed.
Bellkeeper has used the limitations of the dungeon synth genre to build a sonic world that you’ll return to again and again, each time returning with more and more riches.
Drab Majesty are probably not from some kind of extra-terrestrial race. . . But – when they emerge, resplendent in trademark white wigs, huge 3D-film style shades, white tailored suits, cravats, and blanched-complexions – you can’t help but wonder.
Industrial metal’s fastest-rising stars. 3TEETH, launched their third album Metawar at the Electrowerkz in Islington in July, then stormed their show the following night supporting Ministry at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Joe Norman spoke with frontman Alexis Mincolla in the Empire’s suitably grimy and dimly lit backstage area after the show.
I never saw Ministry back in the ‘80s, so I can’t tell you how this compares to their heyday shows. But tonight – an extravagant, gonzo barrage of angry political sloganeering, tightly-controlled sonic mayhem, and pantomime theatrics – makes the reason for their longevity clear.
The first thing I’m struck by, seeing Neurosis proper for the first time, is the power of Steve Von Till’s vocals. He has a fine voice for baritone ballads, but damn can the man bellow when he wants to! The second thing that strikes me is the quality of their lyrics – not something I focus on all that often in extreme metal, it has to be said, especially when watching bands live.
It’s probably because I come to this as a metaller rather than a clubber or a gamer that I’m intrigued about exactly how this will operate in the live environment. Metallers are used to standing and watching the band, maybe moshing a bit. Clubbers are used to dancing, chatting and occasionally giving props to the DJ for dropping a massive tune. So how will the two mix, in the Underworld, on a wet rainy Wednesday?