Date: November 13th, 2015
Location: Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece
The third Athenian appearance of the Norwegian avant-garde pioneers didn’t prove to be their deadliest. I’ll leave aside the prolonged delay in the schedule as the concert ended after 2 am, partly because you’ve probably read about it elsewhere and partly because I value the organizer (3 Shades of Black) as a serious entry in the area of underground gigs, so for the time being I wouldn’t like to put all the blame upon them for this problematic situation.
So, we’ll press fast-forward and go straight to the start of SHIBALBA’s (aka the Mayan underworld) set; for those who are unaware they are the very interesting ritual dark ambient project of Acherontas V. Priest (ACHERONTAS) with the participation of certain other special musicians of the scene. Having carefully set an eminent occult scenery upon the stage and stepping upon a drone/feedback underlay, embellished with various hallucinogenic samples, we listened to a mixture of percussion, brass and whispers from the spirits but most of all we became part (those of us who paid attention) of a fully featured audiovisual ceremony. Regardless of how someone is inspired from or interested in such things, we have to understand that in these situations the attendant has to participate by locking external and mundane thought outside his mind. Of course this not an easy task nor is everyone keen on doing it, with the result being that in a huge space and with a varied audience, the vibes were not flowing around as they should, much as accurate and devoted was the group.
The occult appearance of the stage remained, though differently arranged, as THY DARKENED SHADE were preparing to unleash their sonic assault. Those aware of last year’s “Liber Lvcifer: Khem Sedjet” knew the complex nature of Semjaza 218’s compositions, yet none could imagine that something like this could be rendered in such a raw and at the same time deep way on stage. The core of Semjaza and The A. (vocals) was accompanied by exquisite members of Hellenic blackmetal like Cain Latifer (ACRIMONIOUS, SERPENT NOIR) in guitars and thus we experienced a feast of extreme, technical metal (even progressive one could say) yet so close to the blackmetal essence that very few of the bands with the random darkthrone riffs and black/white covers can achieve. As time passed by, fingers were impetuously going up and down on the frets, The A enchanted us with both distorted vocals and clean chants and among a paroxysmal atmosphere, DEATHSPELL OMEGA would meet the archetypal essence of IRON MAIDEN elegies and together their would go for a ride to the hideouts of MITOCHONDRION; all filtered by the ego of the TDS entity. If you would personally ask me, this was the peak of the whole event.
In any case though, the main dish, the one that drew the vast majority of the audience to Fuzz Club, was the historical DØDHEIMSGARD, this time including their original singer/frontman/actor/lunatic also known as one of the most lyrical voices of the last two decades in blackmetal (and not only there), the magnificent Aldrahn. So, before I start nagging for certain things, let me pay homage to the man who lifted on his shoulders the whole appearance of a band, which within five years (1995-1999) reigned supreme, constantly changing directions (from traditional “Kronet…” to blackthrashing “Monumental…” and from there to the outermost planets) and engulfing some of the most prominent members of the Norwegian scene.
And so, Aldrahn (dressed in a perfectly suitable comic-hero costume) did his very best, using about 20 different vocal styles, roaming the stage back and forth with various improvised choreographies and above all he performed with the sweetest paranoia tracks that have long ago left their mark in blackmetal and us personally, including the whole “Satanic Art” EP which for me was the highlight of their show (apart from the sound problem that plague the second half of “Traces Of Reality”). Yet, most good things end here and problems and shortages begin. For a start, sound was an overall failure almost throughout their gig, fluctuating from mediocre (at best case) to horrible (at worst) with glitches and noises killing any possible exaltation could be caused to us by the phrase “am I not your superhero?”, spoken by its original throat. In other words, again we smelled an “Ion Storm” in the air and again we did not properly hear it as it was meant to be. There was also a lack of a human keyboardist, a lack of fitting visuals and lighting, a lack of nerve from session members and in the end probably a lack of acalmness from Vicotnik resulting in the three last songs of the setlist (“Sonar Bliss” was one of them) being abandoned.
A bittersweet taste was left when a little after 2 am we had to take the road home. On one hand to watch Aldrahn conquering the stage and the microphone is something rarely found around the metal gig world. On the other hand, my (subjective of course) ascertainment that their appearance four years ago was significantly better combined with a new album rather OK for their standards leaves a small disappointment behind and this mainly because it could indicate that one of the most important groups which occupied us in the end of 90s and the dawn of 00s might have started its descent to earth.