support Pantheon I + Razor Of Occam + Zoroaster
author EW date 03/11/09 venue Underworld, London, UK

With the last few months seeing Saint Vitus, AC/DC and Manowar at last scrubbed off my 'bands yet to see' list, American black/thrashers Absu had become quite probably the new no.1 (at least with those I'll ever get to see) of those I needed to catch live. Having heard great reports of their performances from mates who had caught them this summer at festivals and on earlier dates of this European tour it's safe to say I was at the bursting point of excitement. Funny then, how things rarely turn out like one plans them to. I shall report the accurate goings-on of Zoroaster and Razor of Occam, but it was at this juncture I met at the bar a 'friend' with whom, by pure coincidence I'm sure you’ll understand, the point at which my awareness of what followed began to fall from it's lofty perch. Every cloud has a silver lining, an' all that...


Being the black sheep on a black metal tinged line-up Zoroaster could be seen to have had their backs against the wall trying to win over what can often be notoriously unforgiving extreme metal audiences. Proudly I do not share most of my comrade's narrow minds and could see the benefit in the sludgy, psychedelic doom that spewed forth from the lumbering Zoroaster. Sounding most similar to Electric Wizard, the band are surely best remembered by the variety of guests from tonight's other bands who assisted in their performance and bassist/vocalist Brent Anderson's crouched, back-breaking position huddled over the mike. Raise it up man! A listen to the band's 2007 album "Dog Magic" before the gig lifted my expectations higher than what we were ultimately treated to onstage but I still feel that the following rating is that of a band with greater potential than I recognised on this night in Londontown.


Razor of Occam

With Deströyer 666's comeback album this year somewhat of a disappointment, London's own Razor of Occam have closed the gap with their debut "Homage To Martyrs" now finally out. Of course featuring two members of D666 comparisons are inevitable and past live experiences with D666 and RoO have always left me happy but some way short of exhilarated, and this time proved no different. Feeling that the muddy sound was the main culprit in detracting from RoO's razor sharp and biting black thrashing riffs would be the best service one could pay as to not detract from the passionate and warm stage skills that these experienced campaigners gave us, with reliable amounts of headbanging, hair flinging and exhortations for crowd participation always being recipes for an entertaining performance. As time moves ever onwards I expect Razor of Occam will emerge greatly from the shadow of Deströyer 666 and according to others with me, their performance tonight was one clear example of why that might happen, even if the tipping point into great wasn't quite reached.


Pantheon I

In chatting to a member of Pantheon I at the merch stand upon entering the gig he introduced me to the amount of line-up changes that had occurred underneath Absu on this touring line-up, with Norwegians Pantheon I ultimately replacing the unlucky Nachtmystium as direct support for the trek across Europe. As you may have read "Worlds I Create" was a powerful and invigorating album released this summer and, I expected, an interesting proposition live. Sadly though I am not able to bring a full report of their set, as it was as I snuggled up with one of his countrywomen, vocalist/guitarst Andrè Kvebek peaked the band's performance by defining the best things about coming to Britain are our fish 'n' chips, our metal... and Alan Partridge. I could hardly agree more. E elsker Noreg, e elsker Noreg...



And so at last it came to Absu, and I'd be damned if I could pay full attention to their set. This band have so many great songs individual highlights are too much to ask of a mere EW - yep, that's a set containing "Swords And Leather", "Highland Tyrant Attack", "Pillars Of Mercy", "Four Crossed Wands", "Manannán" and no doubt others that have become lost in a midst of copious x, y and z. Akin to my pre-gig worries, in a sound so multi-layered, vibrant and explosive many of the finer nuances of the band's outrageously complex and OTT riffs and drum patterns became obscured in a wall of bass but elsewhere the performance of band members was not one easily picked apart. Given recent wholesale changes around mainman/drummer Proscriptor the possibility of rustiness in the band's interpersonal chemistry had potential to rear it's ugly head but little of this did I detect; Aethyris MacKay, Ezezu and Vis Crom fitted together like the proverbial peas in an extreme metal pod, the results of which were clear to see in the energy being expended by the healthy crowd.

This may not have been the perfect introduction to Absu for yours truly, but in many ways it was just that. If I could add another silver lining to the Absu cloud of 'Mythological Occult Metal' it is that next time I see them, hopefully at a 2010 summer festival, I will still very much be the Absu virgin I felt I was before tonight's showing. All round fantastic.

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