support Ascension + Deströyer 666
author EW date 22/02/15 venue The Dome, London, UK

Failing in my attempted timely arrival at this veritable lineup of extreme metal names assembled before a busy Tufnell Park Dome was a disappointing start to the night, not least because it amounted to horrendous weather and the requisite usage of four trains rather than the anticipated one, the result being my missing of opening acts Dysangelium and Vassafor.

Deströyer 666

Joining the four pronged attack that was to be comprise most of this European tour was underground legends Deströyer 666, a band always capable of providing a commendably metal live showing despite their lack of studio output in recent years. Though Australian by birth, the London residence these days of band leader KK Warslut and his guitar performing partner-in-crime RC ensures a somewhat hometown feel about D666, a fact borne out by the inveterate response they are afforded from the opening notes of "Rise of the Predator". Being averse with much of D666's material I had not expected to be so such a virtue but the very indistinct sound early on muddied the effects of "Raped" and through into the classic "I am the Wargod", by which point the full power of the band's songwriting strength was evidenced. How many other extreme metal bands could pen a song so visceral, yet so evidently steeped in metal history as that, I do not know. Not many I feel.

The introduction of new bass recruit, one Felipe Kutzbach from the fantastic Procession, belied some of the roughness I was getting from their performance (the soundman must share of this blame, too) but covering Slayer's "Black Magic" in the latter stages was but a further excuse for fists to pump and pitters to take their vengeance on certain unfortunate photographers I know. All in all, a solid and enthralling showing well timed at an always-leave-them-wanting-more 45 minutes.


Of course by making reference to an effective set duration I am going to imply the opposite about Ascension. While the swapping of headliners for individual shows of a tour is not uncommon it was peculiar to find here that the Germans still retained their hour set length despite headliners Bölzer sticking with fifty. It is especially easy to conclude in hindsight this was a faux pas but in this, their debut UK show, and with an extremely limited profile to note (as best I can tell based on scene chatter, t-shirts worn etc) the gamble of allowing such a timeframe did not pay off, if my own boredom and the forever busy bar queues nearby mean anything.

With thoughts of their recently released "The Dead of the World" fresh in the mind, the performance of numerous tracks from the album was intriguing for as long as I could discern each track's structures, but the onset of stagnation in sound, and notably visual aspect, soon rendered the performance a long procession to the hour mark. Backlit in a static red light show and with some members sporting a full-face black make-up look combined with the bands inverted triangle emblem that was different, if near impossible to see once the lights were dimmed, the typical withdrawn black metal performance ethic - limited movement, very little crowd interaction from the vocalist - left me struggling to feel integrated into the show. The dramatic drop in overall crowd participation from that of D666 told a similar story, rendering Ascension's debut UK showing being markedly inferior to that of their latest studio work.



Rounding off a 12 month spell in which I have seen this Swiss based duo four times and noticed their name on other touring and festival lineups more often than can be recalled, the rise in profile of Bölzer has been astonishing. The weight of expectation on their debut album, whenever it may arrive, is enormous.

In the meantime, their vast, cosmic battering ram of a sound has proven a difficult beast to harness live - the Redemption Fest showing last autumn rescuing for me their live delivery from potential terminal disillusionment. Thank Satan it arrived when it did, because while this show was better than their visit to the same venue last summer, another muffled delivery would have been difficult to accept given the game-changing brilliance of the "Aura" EP. The "Soma" EP which followed was not quite up to the same standard, and this live showing was somewhere in the middle - a collection of riffs partially lost in the entrancing, mythical vortex of HzR's blasts and KzR's vocal howling but always brutally effective when their underworldly beauty is more exposed. The visual stimuli, so threadbare at just the two members and another simplistically minimal lightshow holds up surprisingly well - put that down to the scale of "C.M.E" and KzR's intimidating appearance for logic would dictate otherwise. Another firmament of the Bölzer ethos then, but when is that album due?


Photos taken by Teodora Dani.

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