The Xmas holidays may fast be approaching, but for devotees of the dark metal arts at least, the real celebrations have arrived in London two weeks early.
Yes, formidable unholy live rituals can be sought out at The Dome in Tufnell Park on both the December 8 and 10, the day between well placed to allow recovery from the festivities. First up, on December 8, the historic venue plays host to some of the finest names in contemporary black metal, specifically Mgła, One Tail, One Head, Misthyrming and Kringa. A mere two days later, and a celebration of some of the best in violent black and death (and black/death) metal take places, featuring none other than Belphegor, Vital Remains, Hate and Ethereal.
Having released what many consider the black metal album of the year, Poland’s Mgła are certainly on a career high. Taking significant inspiration from the 90s heyday of Norway while adding a definite touch of their homeland’s hallmark atmosphere, their tunes come drenched in utter desolation, their performances proving unique, not least due to the band’s anonymous and personality-negating appearance.
With an intense ritualistic vibe, One Tail, One Head offer a more stripped down, violent and punk-sounding assault on the senses, summoning the spirit of early Bathory, Ildjarn, Celestial Bloodshed and many more in the process. Despite still only having a handful of recordings to their name, and no full-length album as yet, the band remain in extremely high demand thanks to their memorable live shows, which should tell you all you need to know.
With a similarly mysterious aesthetic to the headliners, Misthyrming are among a growing legion of Icelandic black metal bands and are one of the newest names on that scene, having released their first album this very year. Dark, meditative and intense, their bleak and swirling works come as close to sucking the listener into the abyss as one could hope for and has already won them a strong reputation internationally.
Though hailing from Austria, Kringa actually take their name from a village in Croatia, a village that was home to the first ‘real’ case of vampirism no less. Still, if you’re expecting the fangs and synths of bands such as Cradle of Filth you’ll be in for a shock, the rather more earthly and organic take on black metal proving raw yet strangely energising.
Austrian institution Belphegor play the Dome on December 10 and need little introduction, their barbarian-like combination of black and death metal having earned them an army of fans over the last two and a half decades. Muscular riffs, perversion, blasphemy and percussive bombardments are their weapons of choice and their live assaults take no prisoners, so be warned!
Vital Remains from the United States have been flying the flag for even longer than their Austrian compatriots, not just for death metal, but for underground metal generally. Unapologetically Satanic, their old school values and pummelling intensity make for an utterly brutal experience so expect utter pit carnage.
Confusing crowds by playing death metal (albeit in blackened form) while wearing corpsepaint, Poland’s Hate have been honing their ferocious attack for 25 years, with nods to other veterans of their homeland such as Behemoth and Vader. Straight down the line with some tasty creative sidesteps along the way, this is one not to miss.
The only local talent over these two events, British black metallers Ethereal have been busy over the last year earning themselves a reputation both on stage and in the studio. Furious, fast-paced and relentless, they’re perfectly poised to warm up the crowd as they emerge from the cold, their technical, twisting songs as atmospheric as they are deadly.
Fill up your chalices and we’ll see you down the front!