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10 greatest black metal live shows of the 2010s

(Image credit: Vivien Varga)

Up-and-coming UK black metallers Master's Call reigned supreme at last year's Bloodstock Open Air, bringing their satanic sounds to the New Blood stage and winning over the crowd with their distinctly Watain-shaped tones and the intoxicating scent of burning incense (a hell of a lot more pleasant than the odour the Swedes are famous for – rotten animal blood). 

"It was an amazing experience to perform at the UK’s biggest metal festival and one that will live long in our memory. Closing out the New Blood Stage on the Saturday was an incredible honour, and the reception we got was way beyond what we imagined!" the band explains.

"Sure we had many months of preparation, anticipation, blood and sweat leading up to the day, with various setbacks in the band that could have hampered delivering our set as we wanted to deliver- but it all came together in the end with the Bloodstock crew being so amazing, putting us at ease with their professionalism and organization.

"This show for us was a celebration and a summation of the first chapter of Master’s Call, with our debut EP having only released earlier in the year. Announcements regarding the next chapter will be coming in the new year as we continue to work on new material."

Well, the guys have delivered on the promise of new material, and are premiering their new video, appropriately filmed at BOA 2019, for song The Spire Cranes taken from their debut EP Morbid Black Trinity below:

To celebrate their killer video, we got Master's Call to tell us their very favourite black metal performances of the 2010s (in chronological order), and the lads gave us a list of ten gigs that prove black metal didn't end with the Millennium – the genre is very much alive and has been kicking up quite the satanic storm throughout the last decade.

Immortal - Bloodstock Open Air 2011

"On their first performance in the UK for several years after going on hiatus, black metal Norse Gods, Immortal, brought a headlining set to Bloodstock's main stage. 

"With an appropriate full moon in the sky they stormed out, pyro ablaze, opening with post-reformation track All Shall Fall, before diving straight into their back catalogue. Immortal played with precision and malevolence, spreading a chill over the main stage with their frost-bitten riffs and cold stage lighting. 

"Frontman Abbath was on top form, commanding the crowd like he was leading thousands into battle whilst simultaneously giving it Lemmy-esque rock 'n' roll attitude. With an encore of Beyond the North Waves and The Sun No Longer Rises, they brought a great set to an epic, fiery close. 

"It was a great to finally see a band we hold in such high regard performing on this level, and whilst this version of Immortal may be no more today, the memory of this will long remain.

Watain - Bloodstock Open Air 2012

"With red skies from a setting sun, Bloodstock’s main stage was engulfed in an appropriately eerie atmosphere before a note was even played. After opening with Malfeitor, Watain's frontman Erik looked to the horizon, proclaiming 'We are Watain and we have come to bring the sun down....this is Sworn to the Dark!' 

"A truly perfect and spine chilling moment that will stay with us forever. As the descending sun brought literal darkness over Bloodstock, the fire and flames on-stage got brighter- further emphasizing the aggressive, tight and thunderous performance of songs like Stellarvore before leading us into the Waters of Ain for an epic finale. 

"On this night of awe inspiring black metal worship, Watain showed us that this genre doesn’t just have to just dwell in the underground, it can also devour the grandest of stages."

Tsjuder - Party San Open Air 2013

"For a while it seemed like seeing Tsjuder perform live might never happen, as they split up in 2006 having never played on our UK shores. As a band responsible for some of our journey deeper into the black metal cosmos with releases such as Desert Northern Hell, this was a disappointing prospect. 

"But some years later they reformed and then came an opportunity to finally witness them live at Party San in Germany. And it was worth the wait, a truly blistering set with songs that transpired perfectly into an open air setting whilst maintaining the atmosphere received from record."

Emperor - Bloodstock Open Air 2014

"In 2014 Norwegian black metal tyrants, Emperor returned to the UK for the first time since 2006 to headline the main stage at Bloodstock, exclusively playing their début album In The Nightside Eclipse in its entirety. For a black metal band to be headlining the main stage of a UK open air festival, it certainly speaks volumes about their level of influence. 

"And they lived up to the hype- performing their 1994 album flawlessly with the enhanced clarity and punch from the huge live setting. It was a spectacle for sure. And to top it all off, they finish with a tribute to the creators of black metal itself in the form of Bathory's A Fine Day To Die!"

Taake  - Covenant Festival II 2016

"As the hour approaches for Taake's first-ever appearance in Vancouver, the bloodthirsty crowd's anticipation levels for this much-awaited set were soaring scarily high. With a the blasting and relentless start set the mood, with the controversial frontman and mastermind, Hoest, commanding the stage with the fierce and demonically-possessed presence he has a reputation for. 

"This is someone you don't want to mess with, which was tested by a crowd surfer's unfortunate attempt to invade the small stage, resulting in Hoest striking him down with the mic stand. As literal blood was shed, things got turbulent in the crowd before Taake continued their set, but the chaos and violence only served to enhance the madness of a memorable show."

Nifelheim - The Underworld 2017

"Whilst you might think Swedish legends Nifelheim appear utterly ridiculous, armoured up in their heavy spiked leather stage gear complete with codpieces and black eye make-up, this is a band that clearly doesn't give a fuck. Despite the particularly hot summer’s day, there's no holding back from the band or the fans. 

"With the sweat pouring from frontman Hellbutcher's balding head, likewise with his twin brother Tyrant on bass, this band played with the most passionate, raw rock 'n' roll attitude you'll ever see from any band. 

"With set highlights that include one of our favourites, Storm Of The Reaper and closing out with The Bestial Avenger, all delivered with maximum fire, it truly was a bar-raising experience.

"Nifelheim played with more intensity than most younger bands in their prime ever could and simply schooled us all on how to deliver a live performance."

Belphegor - The Dome 2017

"Austrian blackened death troop Belphegor had just released their 11th album, the excellent Totenritual and they were making a stop in the UK on their supporting tour, so of course it had to be done. 

"Whilst we have seen Belphegor before, and know what to expect from a band so firmly cemented into the extreme metal scene, it still caught us off-guard when it all kicked off so perfectly tight with an undeniably gargantuan wall of sound that instantly pounded you in the chest. 

"With songs such as the chuggy Conjuring The Dead sounding so especially huge, it was hard not to bang heads to the groove. Coupled with an appropriately visceral stage aesthetic of blood, inverted crosses, corpse-paint, various skulls and bones, this was a night of serious, heavy death and magick."

Mgla - Netherlands Deathfest  IV 2019

"This was a much anticipated show due to somehow missing them whenever they played in the UK. In Tilburg, the feeling seemed shared as you could feel the intensity surging through the crowd that had gathered before the band had even took the stage. 

"Mgla came out all guns blazing with an energetic set, half of which were songs off the Exercises In Futility album but with a decent mix of their older material. It was quite a brightly lit show, atypical for a black metal band for sure, and their sound was as great as their performance. 

"The air was absolutely buzzing during their set and you could feel the energy pouring from the stage and rippling through the crowd. It was an awesome, powerful display of atmosphere and brutality that lived up to expectations."

Carpathian Forest - Incineration Festival 2019

"These Norwegian legends always deliver the ugly and this night was no exception. As a rarity to see them perform on our shores, London's Electric Ballroom stage was especially packed out with a hungry horde eager to witness this exclusive UK performance. 

"It was so full in fact, that many people flocking from the other two stages of the festival were being turned away! Having only seen them at festivals previously, getting to see their brand of punk-esque black metal in an indoor setting was as intense as expected. 

"They delivered their catchy black 'n' roll riffs with their intense visuals that encaptured everything this band is about. And with the addition of Niklas Kvarforth of Shining joining in for 'Mask of the Slave' it was a show to remember."

Cradle Of Filth - London Palladium 2019

"When Cradle Of Filth announced, during their Bloodstock Festival 2019 set, that their 1998 album Cruelty and the Beast would be played in its entirety at a special London Palladium event later on in the year, we knew this was one that could not be missed. 

"Cradle certainly get their fair share of haters, but Cruelty is a very important album to us, and is undeniably a masterpiece. Whilst not the original line-up that recorded the album, they performed it flawlessly and with high energy. 

"It was truly a unique sight to behold. One of our favourite black metal albums being played live, with all the pyros and stage show, taking place in a West End theatre. Such a venue probably doesn't get many audiences that scream Jesus is a Cunt! throughout a performance!"