Secrets Of The Moon

support Solstafir + Israthoum
author EW date 20/09/09 venue Purple Turtle, London, UK

It's been a long time since I had awaited a gig as eagerly as this one. This was admittedly part due to the terrible drought of London gigs I have had to suffer this summer, but also because since receiving and reviewing Sólstafir's "Köld" earlier this year I have fallen in love with the album, suggesting to you now it will be pushing for the number one spot as my album of the year come December. Feeling that their profile, in the UK at least, is somewhat understated given the brilliance of this album, I have virtually assaulted many of my more metal friends, forcing them to listen to the band and realise the wonderful music Sólstafir have to offer. Results have been varied, but ho hum.


Firstly we had Israthoum to get through, a Dutch band who fit the mould of BM best out of tonight's three bands. Although I had heard no previous material of theirs having not been the reviewer of their recent album "Monument Of Brimstone" (why was that?) on first impressions I was glad to see the corpsepaint of the band's promo photos had been shed; it is a look that hardly ever works these days. On more musical factors I was mildly impressed with the band's chunky sound, which sounded to my ears slightly reminiscent of recent Marduk. The band's stage presence wasn't terrific but if one could offer a defence it would be that to fit a band of 5 on the Purple Turtle stage does not leave room for a great deal else; though a little more vigour would not have gone amiss. With a pleasingly audible sound befitting the band's medium-fast approach Israthoum pretty much did what was required; opened competently but showed no signs in their music or performance that they would over-shadow the two following bands that everyone had come to see.



Despite my best efforts (see introduction paragraph) I got the feeling that most in attendance didn't know the name of Sólstafir, let alone any of their music, which made their performance all the more interesting for me. Being granted a 60-minute set was a great start and once I realised the band had opened with "78 days in the Desert", a 9-minute instrumental, I expected things were going to be a little bit interesting. To opt for such a delay before the emergence of vocals is sign that the band you are watching is either a) very cocky, or b) very confident in their music. I would like to opt for b) because having a set almost entirely based around their latest and greatest album is a luxury I'm sure many other bands would desire.

After 10 minutes of waiting it was a delight to hear Aðalbjörn Tryggvason's fantastic, soothing vocals when they came along. Despite at times wondering if my belief that the sound was so good only because I know "Köld" so well (it was at the Purple Turtle after all - a glorified pub for the non-Londoners) I soon remembered I didn't care even if only I knew what was going. The Icelandic's hour soon flew by, with only one non-"Köld" song being aired, an occurrence I was much less annoyed about than the omission of "Love Is The Devil (And I Am In Love)". The enthusiastic performance of Tryggvason was the highlight, reflecting a man who really enjoys his role as frontman of a most honest and spiritually rewarding band such as his, encapsulating an all-round good, if not quite scintillating, performance from the band. Definitely one to watch next time without doubt, for both you and I.


Secrets of the Moon

It had been easy to forget amongst all my fan-boy worship that Sólstafir weren't the top band on tonight and that we still infact Germany's intriguing BM act Secrets Of The Moon to enjoy. SotM are an anomaly, and a difficult one at that. Standing out like a sore thumb from the multitude of sub-sub- genres abound these days, their songs on record are often long, slow and meticulously crafted, yet often difficult to like. This problem was to some extent removed by their live performance yet the thought always remains with SotM, "am I really getting this or is my brain merely deceiving me?".

Annoyingly my pre-ordered copy of "Privilegivm", the band's brand new fourth album arrived the day after the gig, leaving me second-guessing how many of it's songs were to transform in the forward-thinking manner SotM are ardents fans of these days. Luckily, however, we were treated to airings of "Seraphim is Dead" and "Lucifer Speaks", easily my favourite tracks from 2006's "Antithesis", and "Queen Among Rats", the only pre-released song off "Privilegivm" which resulted in yours truly partaking in a spot of headbanging in glorious timing with the moody, unpredictable nature that these songs are. Set aside two standing posters on stage SotM featured a 50% new line-up since I saw them at Wacken '07 but in LSK, they have a bassist whose CV sports some major names of French BM and so, trustily, her performance was admirable. And with no major sound gremlins present from my elevated position on the balcony we were left to admire a performance that was always going to be restricted by the staccato nature of Secrets' music, but one in which any major negatives could never be drawn, rounding off a great and eclectic night's selection of what black metal and it's many guises have to offer.

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