Primordial, Fen and Crom Dubh at Underworld, London - live review

Ireland’s rabble-rousers light a pyre

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Warpaint-clad Londoners CROM DUBH [7] are ideal openers tonight, with their galloping Celtic melodies sounding suitably heroic, if a little polite. While a mysterious absence of guitar in the mix strips FEN [6] of their gorgeous soundscapes, it only seems to add to the unsettling mystique of their atmospheric black metal, as the rhythms and The Watcher’s fiery vocals awaken the darkest recesses. Any suggestions that PRIMORDIAL [9] are perennial slow-starters are laughably extinguished as soon as the towering Where Greater Men Have Fallen explodes into life, igniting a set that’s as celebratory as it relevant to the shaky foundations of our times. A rare outing of The Soul Must Sleep stands its own amongst the battle cry of Gods To The Godless and the churning cauldron of As Rome Burns. With Alan Nemtheanga equal parts fearsome Dark Age warlord, historical scholar and quipping master of ceremonies, there’s little resistance as he conducts the gripping emotion of The Coffin Ships, happily embracing the crowdsurfers who land at his feet. And above all it’s the twin pillars of Ciáran MacUiliam and Micheál O’Floinn’s enrapturing guitars that shackle the crowd to the mast and plunge them headlong into the storm. With a closing Wield Lightning To Split The Sun and vehement Empire Falls, the Irishmen are a poignant and powerful thing to behold.