Morbus Chron, Live in Oslo

Sweden’s death-dealing young guns invade Oslo

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Norway’s longest-running extreme metal fest, Inferno, is gearing up for its 15th anniversary in April, but as a sign of neighbourly recognition, this year’s traditional kick-off party is an all-Swedish affair.

Featuring two, very different if complementary takes on occult-encrusted death metal, it’s also a litmus test of where the underground pendulum is at right now, and the packed, demonstrative audience seem to know it too.

Their lanky frames as de rigeur as bullet belts and denim, VAMPIRE’s [7] wild-eyed rummage through death and speed metal’s dustiest treasures becomes a horror-obsessed thrillride, their barrelling, artery-pumping grooves still infused with dank if luminous atmospheres, while frontman Hand Of Doom contorts like some baby-faced seer, his monstrous roar not a matter of human effort so much as an omen channelled from beyond.

As much as their Sweven album was a radical departure from their old-school death metal roots, live, MORBUS CHRON [8] have managed to fuse their more visceral early sound with the decentred, doom-tainted explorations that have now become their calling card, sometimes coming across like Obituary through the looking glass.

Overall, though, this is an atmosphere-steeped, labyrinthine quest intent on prising open a stye-infested third eye./o:p

Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.