Date: December 27, 2015
Location: Kyttaro Club, Athens
Rumors of a new Athenian appearance of DEAD CONGREGATION some time during the winter had already began to spread from summer. In October we learned the show was scheduled for December and later, when the 27th of December (a very convenient date for most people) was announced, celebrations were certain. Of course, the gig of last year (May 2014, with GRAVE MIASMA etc) was glorious but given on one hand the better sound quality and acoustic of Kyttaro club and on the other the fact that last year’s opus “Promulgation Of The Fall” has secured its place for good in the minds and the playlists of the fans, a special feeling was floating around that this time we were about to face something unique. The inclusion of new act NIGREDO and the always crushing EMBRACE OF THORNS in the billing, was just the appropriate finishing touch for the night to come.
Almost exactly on scheduled time, the first rabid waves of new power-trio from frontman/bassist Alexis (ex-EXARSIS, RAVENCULT), assisted by Maelstrom on drums and Apostle Of Thy Blackest Light on guitar, burst on the shores of Kyttaro’s arena, pulsating between raging blackthrashing moments (with references to AURA NOIR as well as –to some extent– to the earliest KREATOR era) and some mid-tempo more Norwegian-like anthemic passages. Despite some minor technical issues that caused a momentary discomfort, NIGREDO presented us their debut “Facets Of Death” EP and completed their set with overflowing energy and might. With time, they will strengthen their chemistry on stage and then moments of some serious headbanging are in store for us. After all the band’s members aren’t some random kids who decided to play metal.
Two of them indeed (except Alexis, that is) didn’t have much time for rest, since only a few minutes later they returned on stage, along with Fallen Angel Of Fornication (from IMPURE WORSHIP) to accompany the core duet of Archfiend Devilpig and Herald Of Demonic Pestilence of EMBRACE OF THORNS, one the most underrated bands of death/black scene if you want my opinion. And I say underrated, because EoT both musically (where they never hesitated to move towards new paths during their 15 years of history) and in terms of live appearances (where each of their shows simply shocks those who choose to tune in to their vibrations) not only rise to the occasion of what is expected of them but most of the times they overcome it by far. Their last creation, “Darkness Impenetrable”, a solid attack consisting of ten (short in duration yet huge in impact) dynamite tracks, was represented that night by four of them, with “My Hermetic Quest…” and “Aiwass Arisen” gaining a special spot in my heart. This also happened both with elegies such as “Perished In Mortal Agony” (from “Atonement Ritual”) and some much older stuff that came in the form of “Sempiternally Cursing The Weak”, a track coming from the earliest days of the band. I must admit I somewhat missed “Ancient Waters Speak” (although “Praying For Absolution” was not at all ignored) or something significantly older (in the likes of “Stench Of The Deceased Martyrs”), but hey, setlists are of little significance in such cases where a suffocating atmosphere, full of black clouds carrying acid rain, constitutes the optimum means of passing to another plane. Last but not least, I cannot but pay my dues once again to the chameleon vocals of Devilpig, who either here (with EMBRACE) either with SERPENT NOIR of NECROVOROUS always leaves us wondering how the hell he manages to vomit such varied and such compelling shrieks.
Since we were warmed up for good and the club was almost full of people, it was time for the great death metallers. VV on drums, GS on bass and of course the ultimate guitar duo of contemporary extreme metal worldwide, TK and AV started to sign our descent to the bowels of the earth. Introducing themselves with “Martyrdoom”, they spread insanity to the crowd, however, as we discussed in the prologue, the darkness of “Promulgation Of The Fall” had promptly found its place in our hearts and thus, the new record was significantly honored. At “Schisma” chills run through our spines, the veins of AV’s forehead were pulsating as he was denouncing the “worthless father” and we were celebrating his TRUE DEATH. A little bit after, we would return to favorite passages from the past; be it the “Auguring Of An Eternal War” from debut EP or the psalms that introduced the title track from “Graves…” along with forthcoming demolition. The whole Kyttaro club watched in awe, as DEAD CONGREGATION were giving an imperial performance with amazing sound and fierce passion, because they simply are death metal’s leading band of today.
Anastasis addressed the fans for the first time only little before the end of the main set and said what I, personally, (and many others I hope) was waiting to hear: “We are DEAD CONGREGATION, we have a new album and it begins like this”. Thus, let a 15-minute infernal blast sweep our heads and bodies away, as the trilogy of “Only Ashes Remain”/“Promulgation Of The Fall”/”Serpentskin” was envenoming the air! The Fallen Angel had risen and was watching us with a sinister smile from the club’s ceiling. A few moments after, the encore with all-time classics “Vomitchrist” and “Teeth Into Red” would strip us from any remaining strength (only temporarily though) as were realizing that we now had a new milestone to compare future events with. I predict that in a few years we will be coming out of gigs and discuss that “it was OK/great/magnificent, but man, nothing like DEAD CONGREGATION in December, 2015”…