Despite the level of anticipation I had for this show, it seems it was not shared as much as I thought by the London metal crowd as the room was not filled to the brim. It partly was the band’s fault since none of them has a concrete distribution either in store or in metal distros. Svartidaudi‘s record are always out of stock, Antediluvian is mostly revered by the old school death metal heads and Emptiness was completely new to my ears.
For this new band featuring Greg Chandler (Esoteric) and members of The One, Spearhead, the Omen andOmega Centauri, the aim is to confuse and surprise. Instead of driving down a few riffs down to eternity like Chandler do in Esoteric, Lychgate showcased the diversity of his influences while still remaining primarily a doom and death metal band. With the same rigidity than in Esoteric, the music moves slowly but with many unexpected twist and turns to make every transition more oblique. Vocally the band mostly uses growls but also some melodic singing from one of the guitarist while remaining in a droned style to fit with the slow pace of the songs. Even if I did not witness the whole show, there was much to take in, which promise an intriguing new album scheduled for August.
The belgian quartet on the other hand played something looser and more dynamic than Lychgate. Even though I had never heard of them before, the band quickly grasped my attention with some excellent songs and structures going from some muscular death metal to some more atmospheric black metal without relying mostly on expected drum patterns and by playing with a lot more feeling. Their brilliant use of the space between each part also made a huge difference compared to the dense assault of the other band of the night and finally drew me to the merchandising table to get their latest album.
The band that most of the crowd was waiting for tonight was definitely Svartidaudi as proven by how many people left after they played. After offering a memorable set last year in support of Mgla, the icelandic quartet took no time and effort to replicate their feat. Their black metal falls into the most hyperbolic categories of the genre but nevertheless they have the ability to play some of the fascinating music of the genre. While most black metal loose their impact on a live setting because of an over reliance on theatrics, Svartidaudi assaults the public like a bunch of terrorist with their war painting and their bandanas. Despite appearing quite friendly on stage before they put on their make up, they appear as dangerous as their music when they start playing. It also must be said that even if their music is original and fits closer to Deathspell Omega than Watain, they have the chance to possess a fantastic drummer who manages to provide a catchier backbone to the complex riffs of the guitarist and create the perfect balance. Svartidaudi‘s album are still hard to find but I would not be surprised if these icelandic masters started being more widely known soon enough.
After such a fantastic set, Antediluvian had much to prove to beat their comrade, and sadly did not. After such a powerful and intense set from Svartidaudi, Antediluvian competent old school death metal could only sound quite dull despite the quality of the playing. Even if on record they offer a very morbid atmosphere, live they do not succeed on recreating that atmosphere and end only playing Incantation inspired metal without the ferocity of their main influence. It also must be said that the addition of the low growl, the downtuned guitars and the unrelenting bass drum did not help to make their songs stand out. After two songs I ended up sitting on a bench, trying to make sense of what I was listening. Some of the slower part helped the set breath but mostly it was too late to save my attention. The crowd had fined quite a lot after Svartidaudi and the crowd was no longer impatient but mostly respectful so I left earlier with some music from Svartidaudi and Emptiness in my hands, and in my head, and the intention to catch these two bands again next time.
Edit 25/05/2015 : Lychgate’s review has been edited to correct some of the mistakes in the original article.