Ragnarok

support Negura Bunget + Episode 13 + De Profundis
author EW date 24/04/10 venue Camden Underworld, London, UK

The gigs are coming thick and fast at the moment with the pre-festival season eminently encouraging a number of acts to hit the road and get themselves in full working order before they hit the big outdoor shows that can go a long way to making a band's career. One of the shows that is a regular at this time of year in London is the Infernal Damnation fest from the excellent Arcane Promotions, now in it's seventh year and boasting the same usual eclectic range of bands from across the extreme metal spectrum. Sadly I was not able to watch Iceni, The Way of Purity, Fen and Necro Ritual but I did still have over 3 hours of music in who I did catch and review them for you below.

De Profundis

An act I was particularly looking forward to having recently taken a copy of their new album "A Bleak Reflection" for upcoming review, Brits De Profundis have been slowly making waves in the underground with a slow, somber and technical take on doom metal mixed with elements of black and death. Their problem in a show of just 30 minutes lies in the fact the majority of their songs are pushing 10 minutes, limiting them to just the three tracks, but I admit to being mightily impressed with the few that we got. Craig Land is the eye-catching frontman, long of hair and big of desire whose predominantly deep growls, which take some adjustment with regards the style of music they accompany, catch the most visual attention, but musically the work of these guys reminds of Confessor's highly technical take on doom mixed with My Dying Brides and Opeth's drawn-out song structures. The bass sound of Arran McSporran, a highlight on the album, was pleasantly audible making for a performance of much guile and professionalism, greatly more advanced than the relevant inexperience of the band would suggest. De Profundis are every bit an honest, dedicated band and this was laid bare in a performance that makes me want to see them again at the earliest opportunity.

8

Episode 13

A completely unknown entity to me prior to the show, Turkish black metallers Episode 13 strode onstage layered in corpsepaint and with a vocalist ensconced in a SunnO))) style cloak - my attention was certainly captured. However just as I thought he might perform in this style throughout he soon showed his face to give a bit more identity to this curious act that got better as their half hour set progressed. As ever having no prior knowledge of a band before seeing them live makes it difficult to fully judge the music on offer, but Episode 13 were better than most with a collection of songs that slowed up the usual BM blast for a more thought-out and developed style, with each of the 4 members playing important parts in progressing the show on nicely, all without ever really doing anything outstanding. With such a style a band can quickly become just 'another live act' so anything that gives us punters a taste of variation is welcomed and throughout the oddly demented personality of frontman Ozan Akyol gave plenty to watch and listen to. For a band I was initially skeptical about Episode 13 proved themselves a commendable addition to the afternoon's entertainment and though nothing extraordinary at least performed with a passion that was worth watching.

7

Negură Bunget

Regular visitors to this little corner of the internet should be well aware of my passion for Romanians Negură Bunget, with the recent re-working of one of their older albums going down particularly well in these parts. And so despite the mixed feelings I have in the authenticity of their current line-up I was still greatly looking forward to their performance, but concerned: would the aura have been lost or can the new guys fill the vast shoes left by their predecessors?

Well if you've done a naughty and gone ahead to check out the grade you'll know the answer. In producing the best performance of my 14 gigs so far in 2010, NB utilised EVEN MORE onstage instruments than in their previous incarnation, comfortably packing out the stage among their 6 members, the usual metal instruments plus a xylophone, 2/3 keyboards, cowbells, tulnic (google it), panpipes, dulcimer, folk drum and one instrument so peculiar I can't even find it online. The potential for disorganised chaos is very high once all this gets going but by jove do Bunget handle it well. Though "Om" is probably the most atmospherically rich album I've ever heard, the means in which this is transferred through to live songs is outstanding, creating a void in which all in attendance fall into in a state of awe-inspired trance at the artistry with which these songs are recreated on the road. One can understand why bands like Arkona don't lug around all the folk instruments that go into their recordings, but seeing Negură Bunget go to those lengths reveals just how much the sound benefits from their presence. To say the absence of previous mainman Hupogrammos Disciple wasn't missed would be a disservice to the man, but on this evidence the new incarnation is running almost without fault and has already tapped deeply into the Transilvanian spirit which imbues all their records. Hearing the marriage of keyboard, guitar and a variety of folk instruments weaving a craft of deep meaningful noise right in front of your face is quite something, and a prospect noone else offers in this medium. Utterly essential, on record and live.

9

Ragnarok

I don't know the reason for Norway's Ragnarok being the headline band over the Bunget for this show: their profile in the UK is no way close to that of the Romanians and on the basis of this performance, neither their songs nor live performance is close to what tonight's top support act could offer. Ok so both bands had the same 60 minutes each and Ragnarok seemed to have a fair few of the audience headbanging their way through the set, but to these ears theirs was some of the most averagely written and performed black metal one could wish to hear. Not until the final song before a short encore did I find anything to latch onto, a pretty sensational riff it was admittedly, but by this point my mind had already been made up regarding Ragnarok. With a stereotypical corpsepainted look and a stage performance that left a lot to be desired (where all but vocalist HansFyrste seemed bored to be performing) they didn't have the presence to cover up the lack of top-level quality missing in their Enthroned & Carpathian Forest-like BM assault, and were quite a comedown from the experience that the preceding act were.

4

All Negură Bunget photos taken by my good mate Karl (again).

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