Secrets of the Moon

support Bethlehem + Dordeduh
author EW date 01/10/12 venue Underworld, London, UK

Eschewing any notion of a weak supporting line-up, this package put together for a small European tour by Prophecy Productions & Lupus Lounge featured three bands all falling under the broad black metal tree with each being a noteworthy addition for their own reasons. For these reasons perhaps it was no surprise that the Underworld was about three-quarters full on a Monday night, two days after the Marduk/Immolation sell-out - a testament to London's gig-loving extreme metal fraternity.

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Dordeduh (including tulnic)

Dordeduh

Having risen from the true creative spirit of Negură Bunget following their untimely split in 2009, Romanians Dordeduh were here embarking on their first European tour in support of newly released LP "Dar De Duh" (to be reviewed here soon). Featuring the mulit-instrumental talents of vocalist Hupogrammos (or, Edmund) and Sol Faur from Bunget in their ranks, it is to be expected that Dordeduh draw from the same folk-driven, authentic black metal well that served Bunget so unbelievably well in their latter years; plus, having seen their formative act a number of times it should not be so surprising to see the band fill the tiny Underworld stage with a plethora of ethnic instruments, but fill they do and still it takes my breath away. Kicking off with the wonderful "Dojana", requiring the use of three long tulnics, a toacă, drums and keys, it is a wonder Dordeduh bother with the effort of lugging all that kit around the continent, let alone that it works at all. Drawing on the harmonies of their native music it is a sumptuous song. Following that the band launch into more aggressive territory, where their star fades somewhat due to an evident lack of stagetime as a unit and an indecisive reaction from band and crowd alike such is the freshness of their tunes and a PA which struggles to cope with the intricacies of their synth-driven blasts. Still, the crowd only grows during their 45 minutes as they can revel in the fact that when it worked, it really worked for Dordeduh.

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Bethlehem

Bethlehem

The act with which I was least well acquainted in the evening were long-time German 'suicidal' black metal act Bethlehem, a band going since the early 90's but with an incredibly lazy attitude towards playing shows ever since, meaning few here can have claimed prior experience of their shows. The suicidal element of their music is very apparent from the despairing, despondent tone which their single guitarist generates, alongside a pleasingly audial sombre bass tone and an engagin frontman who spent the major part of their set displaying the facial expression of someone who had just seen a ghost at the back of the floor. Don't be fooled into miscomprehensions by that though, the varying pace of Bethlehem, which ranged from slow Cathedral-like doom to faster, angry, sections left plenty to enjoy and which was surprisingly adept for a band I'd wrongly assumed to be ill-fitting to the live arena (for obvious, aforementioned reasons). Maniacal shrieks and wide-eyed expressions aplenty, it transpired the miserable tendencies of this cult act were a rewarding experience for ear and eye.

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Bethlehem

Secrets of the Moon

Playing to a dwindling audience who seemed to be a very aware bunch when it came to last trains home or the need for an early Tuesday morning start, progressive-leaning German occultists Secrets of the Moon arguably deserve more in both the context of this evening and the whole status of their band. A band who push the boundaries of the black metal genre with each release and refuse to stand still, it is perhaps the originality in their song structures which has subdued their relatively modest profile, but any number of the tracks aired in this performance should be enough to sway the undecided. Coming from this writer's personal favourite album, "Antithesis", "Seraphim is Dead" and "Lucifer Speaks" convey the unconventional darkness found in their music, as slow-burning songs ominously come to life in dramatic fashion through a tidy aesthetic in tempo variation and a great mix in vocal levels from frontmen SG and Ar.

In anticipation of this gig I have been giving some spins to this year's release "Seven Bells" but it was this performance of four its tracks which has made the biggest impact so far, with the airing of "Serpent Messiah" in particular being the highlight. The mixing of a cleaner guitar tone building up to the massive, crashing chorus of "Serpent Messiah" in particular is a splendour which when complimented with the smoke, rear-lit lightshow and plenty of obligatory headbanging makes for quite the enveloping experience. "Blood Into Wine", "Nyx" and "The Three Beggars", longer tracks off the album were also aired, which by their conclusion was being played to a venue less than half-full as people started to drift off long before the end sadly giving the impression that Secrets were not providing enough for their enjoyment. However, based off their keen sense to provide a visual spectacle alongside the mysteries of their music it is hard to argue that this band don't provide in the interest stakes - it merely emphasises the challenging nature of their tunes, a challenge I'd certainly recommend be taken up.

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