Hate

support Negură Bunget + Vesania
author EW date 18/09/11 venue Underworld, London, UK

As the first international tour to drag me out of the house this side of the summer festival season I should have been chomping at the bit for this intriguing package but something in the air this London Sunday autumnal evening was not quite doing it. Not the bands or promoters' faults admittedly, and a negative way to start this review, but did the presence of various shades of black and death metal shake away this malaise? Well…

Vesania

With the enforced postponement of all Behemoth activity due to frontman Nergal's battle with leukaemia the downtime has spurred drummer Inferno back to Azarath and bassist Orion to Vesania, the latter of whom was stood before us in one of the unusual usages of 'corpsepaint' I have seen in some time. After missing the entirety of the night's openers, Vesania were an adequate treat with which to get going, as for a band arguably best known as the home to Orion and ex-Vader's (among others) drummer Daray, they can still pull together an admirable collection of Dimmu Borgir-inspired tunes some way from the more extreme demands of their big name brother-bands. Fronted by the physically imposing Orion, Vesania hijack a little of black metal's theatre and meld it with the symphonic leanings of some of the genre's biggest bands and poke it with a very sharp stick to pull out enough decent riffs to keep the attention of a new-comer like myself to the band.

Of course, expecting great drama either in stage performance or music for a band third top of a bill at a half-full Underworld is grossly optimistic, but even with the keys of Siegmar disappointingly buried for much of the set the Polish leanings of this experienced bunch of campaigners provided a set than could reasonably have been expected. Sitting on the comfortably listenable border of the black/death intersection, you needn't have been one of the headbangers down the front to get something from this minor league Polish export.

6

Negură Bunget

My personal primary reason for being here, Romania's finest metal export Negură Bunget, continue to plough on despite the indisputable handicap of having lost a key portion of their fanbase following the split of members in 2009, and plough on they do through a set harking back to the band's recent glory period while never looking close to matching it. My one previous reviewed experience (among a handful of other non-reviewed) attested as best I can the atmosphere overload that NB can be, where during the likes of "Cunoașterea Tăcută" one has the undeniable feeling no other metal band possesses the ability to transcend such spiritual feeling from a stage performance, facts which are still relatively true even today without the song's main creator here to perform it in front of us.

Playing through 6 songs with an apparent taxation on movement (to be fair the band's multitude of instruments on the small Underworld stage does make this art tricky - see the picture of semantron) meant the set came and went without a great deal of fanfare but I've long learnt this band does not need to rely on conventions to have their point made. The magic touch of old sadly cannot be recreated in the new face of Negură Bunget but the pleasurable auditory experience forever remains in these mystical Romanians.

Hate

Calling Hate 'the fourth band of Poland' could be seen as quite the compliment given the international strength and pulling power of Vader, Behemoth and Decapitated, yet this did not disguise the fact the band and I had yet to cross paths before, making this live showing all the more interesting than could otherwise have been. Telling you the band 'sound' Polish is basically a cop-out in attempting to explain the melodically-tinged black/death metal that was played before us, but with hints of (Austrians) Belphegor in their riffs and Behemoth's Nergal in the vocal (and clean voice especially) of mainman Adam the First Sinner, such an accusation would certainly not be a lie.

For a band with 20 years experience behind them the stageshow of Hate was a little on the basic side, even the customary headbanging of such a band was fairly muted in comparison to peers, but for an unremarkable Sunday night the mood was somewhat apt. Mixing songs largely from the latter half of the band's 7 album discography the crowd's reaction was very strong (not surprising given the strong London Polish contingency), a fact which fed back to the band in their hammering hour long performance. Hate's somewhat lower profile against their national buddies is justified when one considers the lack of truly outstanding songs in their armoury, but overcoming this with devotion is one method for doing so and on that these Poles did no harm to their reputation as a band worthy of investigation.

All photos taken by Greg Readings.

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