Darkher at the Black Heart, London - live review

Jayn H Wissenberg brings a progressive flavour to the 8 Years Of Chaos festival

Darkher performing on stage in Camden
(Image: © Simon Kallas)

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Performing as part of underground promoters Chaos Theory’s 8 Years Of Chaos anniversary, Yorkshire singer Jayn H Wissenberg is back in London, one year after her sold-out acoustic act at the Union Chapel, opening for Norse folkers Wardruna.

A glimmer of red flowing locks hidden under a hood appears on the stage. The singer of dark and atmospheric prog has arrived, surrounded by amps and with black guitar in hand. However, this time she’s not alone, as tonight she’ll be accompanied by drummer Christopher Smith. This is a nice evolution, from the calm of her previous church surroundings to a busy pub at the heart of Camden Town.

Darkher’s set begins with the soft intro of Moths, which rapidly descends into a whirlwind of heavy doom strums and a single hard-hitting drum tempo. Foregone, one of the liveliest and darkest songs on the album Realms, is an effective crowd pleaser and sees hair begin to fly.

The challenge is to get a glimpse of the stage at the end of the narrow room – if you’re more than two metres away, you can’t see a thing. Luckily, the recent venue renovations mean the overall sound is good, albeit so loud that the free earplugs at the bar are most welcome.

Darkher’s powerful vocals are a constant soft melody of gentle melancholy and lingering sorrow skirting the heavy bass notes, pounding drums and poignant lyrics. Emotion-drenched songs Wars and Buried Pt. I and Pt. II are a statement to her talent.

Appearing confident on stage, the bewitching singer only addresses the crowd to say “thank you” between songs. Her communication is clearly achieved through the heartfelt music. There’s an almost overwhelming theme of conflicting powerful yet fragile elements throughout.

Having released two albums, toured with Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle and Subrosa, as well as collaborated with My Dying Bride drummer Rick Miah, Darkher continues to enchant prog and occult rock fans alike. We can’t wait to see what she’ll have planned for her next London date.

Isere Lloyd-Davis

Isère is an international journalist and Prog magazine contributor since 2014. With over 15 years of experience in print, online and radio journalism, Isère’s feature articles and reviews have been published in music, art, fashion, interior design and travel publications. Having interviewed over a hundred bands since her music journalist career began, Isère has a knack for discovering new talent and projecting emerging artists into the limelight. She specialises in obscure progressive music, occult rock and extreme metal, and in her spare time, Isère is mostly watching live music, visiting art galleries and learning Russian.