Hallowe’en may have come and gone, but November 8th was fright night at The Dome, for an evening of horror-themed death and doom metal was ready to begin. Co-headlined by Finns Hooded Menace and Brits Dragged Into Sunlight, the show was an ode to sinister forces and Hammer Horror films; a shared interest of both genres of music, with the likes of Uncoffined, Decrepid, The Wounded Kings and Resurgency coming along for support.
Death-doom metal, though often associated with romantic lyrics and sweeping, gothic melodies, is in its true form down tuned, slow death metal. There is no space nor time for keyboards or violins amidst crushing, low riffs, which is what Uncoffined delivered when they opened the show.
As the tunes grew lower and deeper, drummer/vocalist Kat “Shevil” Gillham’s growls had an especially eerie effect onstage, behind her guitar and bassist bandmates. Their slot rose in ominisity this way, yet mid-set saw a surprise of rock ‘n’ roll kicks with track ‘Blasphemous Execration of Holy Ground’. The melodies worked a treat live, and didn’t step entirely out of bound with their rest of their fare.
A bigger crowd had gathered though, in time for Decrepid to play. Passing a few stops and starts during soundcheck, the band immediately got the crowd windmilling their heads and rocking out to intense, fast and filthy guitar riffs. Fun was had all around, as hard, guitar grooves frenzied throughout the arena with fast-paced drums and frontman Cris Bassan’s full-garbled voice. Considering his declaration that Decrepid play “old school death metal [with] no bullshit”, it was fitting for a raw guitar solo to round out the end of their set.
For all the might that Decrepid brought into The Dome so far, it was interesting that they were followed up by comparatively mild-mannnered The Wounded Kings. Clearly influenced by the Ozzy-Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus school of heavy doom, they went down a treat with the audience, as they mesmerised them into slow submission. Everyone at the front especially were nodding together in a trance.
Yet while decent, for others (namely this reporter) the five from Devon grew rather dull, as their sound bled into one monotonous, sonic lo-fi note. Becoming more sonically dissonant by the end, The Wounded Kings’ lethargic nature – and droning effect of their bass – were not necessarily the high point of the evening, though received well enough.
Soon, it was time for hellish death metallers Resurgency to take the stage. It was their live debut in the UK, and the Greeks brought all their fire.
Drilling onstage through blast beats and militant riffs, the band created an audible barrage of destruction, that was eagerly eaten up by everyone in The Dome. Aside from the bunch of enthusiastic Mediterraneans by the front, many others – even more than for Decrepid – began windmilling and losing their shit to each burst of old school, ’90’s styled- death metal.
Yet the most impressive thing was how positively tireless Resurgency were, as they literally blasted through their songs. ‘Ending The Beginning’, ‘Binding Is Fatal’ and others pummeled from the stage, under the red lights above.
Appetites for extreme music had just begun, when it became time for the main attractions Dragged Into Sunlight and Hooded Menace to play.
It was a literal dark atmosphere, when all light was out for Dragged Into Sunlight. With backs turned to the audience, three stood in silhouette against a flashing, white background. Without showing their faces, the music became an even more disquieting experience live.
Punishing riffs and blast beats, as cliché as it is to write this down, fell with automatic precision on the crowd amid the darkness. ‘I, Aurora’, ‘Boiled Angel/Buried With Leeches’ and others took on a vicious tone thanks to the nature of raw sound, which already made Dragged Into Sunlight the best band of the evening for many. Distressing music with disembodied voices, as mentioned earlier, makes a delightfully eery combination for extreme metal and horror lovers, and by keeping to the shadows – so to speak – the band kept attentions hooked.
Finally it was Hooded Menace’s turn, coming up a bit earlier than expected likely due to the 11pm curfew.
As stated above, death-doom metal is slowed down death metal, which was precisely what they came to perform, on their terms. Immense, heavy notes staggered, while the grooves of death metal, steadied to hypnotic pace, came in pulverising intensity. The spirit of old school horror films practically spoke through the rumbled accent of old school death metal.
‘Fulfill The Curse’, ‘Never Cross The Dead’ and ‘Effigies of Evil’ were amoung the songs which held testament to this spirit, translating movie terror into murky growls and crushing riffs. Ignoring one drunken idiot who looked more at home at a football match than a metal gig, it was clear that the audience was standing immersed in the show. Yet by the time that encore ‘Crumbling Insanity’ had come, it seemed much too early for the set to end. Or, for that matter, for the entire night to finish, even if it was time for curfew.
Photo © Pete Woods (Ave Noctum), 2014
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