support Grave + Belphegor + Omnium Gatherum
author EW date 19/09/08 venue Underworld, London, UK

News had recently reached me that this show, the first on a 14-date tour of Europe, had sold out a couple of weeks in advance, despite an equally solid line-up performing down the road in a celebration of Northern doom - Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. Clearly, a stellar line-up consisting of various shades of black in the forms of Nile, Grave and Belphegor had whetted the appetites of many, including strangely a number of 'scene-kids' who had come along to join the party despite there being no pussy bands on the bill. Good on 'em I say for checking out stuff outside of their usual radar, however a stop at the barbers to get rid of some truly ridiculous barnets should be next on their agenda after what I witnessed last night.

Omnium Gatherum

The omens for those looking for a late Friday night out, including myself, did not start well when entering the venue at around 7.10 resulted in only witnessing the final OG song. The bastard curfews seemed to be out with a vengeance, more of which to come later. Thankfully it seemed a good number had bore witness to OG's performance so that they weren't playing to an empty venue, however for the sake of this OG review, the end is nigh. Sorry lads.


After a surprisingly quick changeover, Austrian sadomasochists and purveyors of all else that is filthy and wrong, Belphegor, came out with the third different line-up in my three times of seeing them. In what turned out to be a night of session/live members with all 3 top bands featuring one, Belphegor's revolving door around guitarist/vocalist Helmuth didn't seem to suffer any tightness issues associated with new line-ups, especially in bands as extreme as Belphegor, to delivery the best performance I've seen from the band. Similarities are abound with Poles Behemoth, who have both moved from a BM to DM style over the years, resulting in Belphegor concentrating on material from 2003's "Lucifer Incestus" and later, all whiplash-inducing and full of whirling riffs and maelstrom forces of blackened brutality. As on record, my highlight was the title track of the aforementioned "Lucifer Incestus", a blaster in every sense of the word full of skull-bending riffs that benefitted through actually being distinguishable in the hot Underworld air. A very solid performance, though quite what Helmuth's spiked-gimp-mask donned for the final song was meant to symbolise is lost on me!


As the only band of the main three on the bill not founded on hyper-speed riffs and ferocious blastbeats, Grave probably for the first time in my life were the 'chill-out' band, where one could stand back, Newcastle Brown Ale in hand and enjoy the groove of some old-school Swedish death metal. What Grave specialise in is giving their all to maintain the ancient standards of DM warts an' all, and as such a live performance is as key to this as their records. Appearing to me to not play "Into The Grave" (or maybe I just missed that one) they were nonetheless well received throughout, despite all-round astonishment that they had to leave the stage due to curfews by around 8.40 with just Nile to come. "Bloodpath" from newbie "Dominion VIII" came across best from a set that never really dipped in quality, highlighting the all-round solidness of Grave's long history in the way that its hard not to love such a headbanging friendly act



For all the acclamation of albums like "Annihilation Of The Wicked" and "Black Seeds Of Vengeance", a Nile live show has never compared to giving one of their albums a spin but when you are talking of most of the complex bands going in the extreme metal scene it's not all that unbelievable. Rumour of indistinct riffs, blurred drums, and a lack of atmosphere have all been heard before but tonight's performance from Karl Sanders and co went close to matching the recorded version of a number of songs and due to quite a lengthy set ensured we at least went past the 10pm barrier before being kicked out (just). For all their stature in the DM world, Nile have always maintained a strong degree of separation from the rest of the hordes, possibly best reflected in being able to maintain such a high level of brutality even in their slower moments, but it is when the super-speed of "Papyrus Containing The Spell To Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In The Water" (yes, really), and "Cast Down The Heretic" et al hit that one can't fail to be amazed by the technical wizardry of Nile. In a set also containing fan favourite "Lashed To The Slave Stick", "Ithyphallic", "Black Seeds Of Vengeance" and closer "Unas Slayer Of The Gods" and an Underworld sound where riffs as massive as the statue adorning the cover of their latest record were mud-free, Nile gave the best performance I have seen from them and answered the question why this gig had been sold out for a couple of weeks. Excellent stuff.


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