Archgoat/Svartidaudi/Bölzer at Underworld, London - live review

Finland’s primal force erupts through north London

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An early start means that Eggs Of Gomorrh will, for the time being, be little more than a curiously-named enigma to most of tonight’s crowd, but they’re out in force to witness one of extreme metal’s hottest names, namely Switzerland’s BÖLZER [7]. Sadly, the experience isn’t quite up to expectations, largely due to a series of technical errors that sees frontman KzR first leaving the stage for a time to head backstage and then returning to argue at some volume with the engineer side of stage. Needless to say, this somewhat breaks the transcendent spell the band achieve on record. Thankfully, it’s not a completely lost cause, and the latter half of the show sees the duo hitting their stride, the hypnotic and otherworldly nature of the dissonant cacophony capturing much of the crowd under its spell. Icelandic black metal pioneers SVARTIDAUDI [8] have been no strangers to the stage in recent years and that experience once again shows tonight, the band having honed their live attack into a particularly muscular and focused assault. Their claustrophobic and unrelenting music inevitably loses much of the subtlety it might have possessed on record but no one can deny its intense and invigorating results here – a point visible by the reaction of those assembled.

And so from some of the underground’s brightest hopes to the more well established headliners… At this point, few should be in any doubt as to Finland’s ARCHGOAT’s [9] status as a bonafide black metal institution and both young and more, well, seasoned fans await in anticipation for this unholy assault. Rightfully placed in the upper echelon of primal, bestial black metal alongside fellow scene veterans Blasphemy, they continue to march forward with their diabolical and single-minded attack. Needless to say, there’s not a huge amount of dynamics – simple, insistent and malevolent-sounding riffs form the foundation of each song, accompanied by an unfussy battery and those unmistakable and deep vocals, with the occasional use of eerie synths, played by the as-ever-invisible synth player. Blurring the sonic lines between death and black metal, this is extreme underground metal in its most pure and stripped down form and while they might exist past the tolerance level for some, it’s hard to deny how powerful the effect is. It helps, of course, that Archgoat’s songwriting is so on point (creating good tunes in such a narrow framework isn’t as easy as it might seem), but more than that it is the sheer conviction that comes through in the band’s performance that makes tonight’s set so compelling.