Joseph Norman


Articles by Joseph Norman

Ministry • 3TEETH • Grave Lines – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

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.

Neurosis • Godflesh • Yob – O2 Forum, Kentish Town

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. 

GosT • ORAX – Underworld, London

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?

Hexvessel – St John on Bethnal Green

Which better song for a pagan forest folk act to cover than ‘Gently Johnny’ from the Folk Horror classic The Wicker Man, Pioro’s violin for which is so moving that I’m mostly too absorbed to imagine Britt Eckland’s body-double writhing all over the church walls.

Wrekmeister Harmonies • FVNERALS • Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster – Electrowerkz, London

Overall, I’m struck by the vulnerability of Wrekmeister’s performance tonight; emotion that’s bravely raw and visible even behind a wall of guitar drone.

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Islington Assembly Hall, London

“Singing is a medicine,” says Einar Selvik, before launching into the finale of tonight’s triumphant show, and you can’t hear this man sing without understanding exactly what he means.

Mortiis – The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost (Remaster)

Has the demo stood the test of time? Absolutely. Mortiis manages to be simultaneously ahead of his era and lingering in the deep past, so this recording will always sound both fresh and ancient. This ghost’s song will be remembered for a long time to come.

Sinsaenum – Dome, Tufnell Park

There’s no drum solos suspended above the stage; no guitar wankery under the spotlight; no egos; no compromise. Because, at the end of the day, that’s why Sinsaenum are here: for a return-to-roots, back to the underground for the love of playing the nasty in sweaty venues.

YOB • Wiegedood – Garage, London

If Wiegedood hammered home an utterly-unvarnished sense of the bleakness and harshness of existence then YOB, alongside Om, Pallbearer and the like, concentrate on conveying a genuine sense of warmth, beauty and euphoria that is beyond piousness or pretension, and which stays with you way beyond the tube ride home.

Cultes Des Ghoules – Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths

Sinister may not be the band’s Holy Grail, but, nevertheless, to taste forthwith is truly to sup with the devil himself.

Black Label Society • Monolord – Royal Albert Hall, London

Watching Wylde play a guitar solo is like watching a starving person eat a steak or a perennially under-sexed person achieve orgasm . . . He doesn’t so much play the guitar as do guitar to you.

Anna von Hausswolff • Jo Quail – The Dome, London

If you asked me what was going through my head whilst watching Anna von Hausswolff I could honestly tell you very little – I doubt there was a single person in this sold-out show who was not utterly transfixed from start to finish.

Mortiis: Special ‘Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør’ Show – The Dome, London

. . .Sometimes you need to get lost in the glorious anachronism and introspection of dungeon synth. So, to all those underground keyboard composers: venture forth from the catacombs and onto the stage. Or go see Mortiis and catch the master at work.


I saw Gene Simmons spitting blood on TV as a four-year-old kid, and I thought that was the best thing in the world. Then someone brought the first WASP album into our house circa 1984 . . . and I forgot all about KISS, and WASP was the shit for a while . . . I eventually found myself being engulfed by Tolkien, Occultism, Bathory, and Venom. . .

Anna Von Hausswolff – Dead Magic

The result is her most deeply emotive, as well as conceptually and sonically coherent, work to date. Dead Magic is Anna Von Hauswolff’s darkest music yet – and the darkness suits her.

Paul Ledney from Profanatica

Ahead of their first EU headlining tour, Echoes & Dust spoke with Profanatica’s drum-marauder and filth-spreader Paul Ledney about video taping, the supernatural, and maniac festival fans.

Portal – ION

Rather than marking a trend towards accessibility or conformity, ‘ION’ is Portal at their weirdest, their most excoriating and their most essential.

Nils Frahm – Barbican Hall, London

For all of his eclecticism and experimentation, it is Nils’ ability to play the piano with virtuosity and a sincere emotion that glues everything together.

Jess and the Ancient Ones – The Horse and Other Weird Tales

It seems like they have found their distinctive musical voice, spoken amidst a hubbub of occult rock languages and we can look forward to hearing it tell further weird tales in the future.

Airbourne – The Roundhouse, London

Airbourne bound onto stage shortly following Brad Fiedel’s main theme from Terminator II . . . But as soon as the insanely catchy football-chant intro of ‘Ready to Rock’ strikes, and the crowd goes all World Cup on us, it’s clear there will be no time for dystopia or time travel paradoxes this evening, just mindless, upbeat hedonism.

Akercocke – Underworld, London

Bag-obscured face, blank stony glare: a relaxed, suited everyman. Tall-ceilinged, oppressive room. Human, seated, watches the reaper beckon the faceless bagman’s reflection which waves. The monkey is out of the cage, and immortalized in stone. Akercocke’s songs reflect these unsettling juxtapositions. . .

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