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Septicflesh/Inquisition/Stalsarg at Underworld, London - live review

Black metal titans combine their forces

Originally an Eastern Front spin-off, STAHLSARG [8] shave found themselves with a recent second album, Mechanisms Of Misanthropy. Tonight they demonstrate the same atmospheric and embittered BM heard there to great effect. Many of those assembled here have come to see INQUISITION [9] and few are disappointed with what they experience. The duo remain a unique experience live. This is second-wave, Scandinavian-inspired BM stripped down to its most minimal components: namely a single layer of guitars, formidable percussion and those instantly recognisable croaked vocals. Successive albums have seen an increasingly psychedelic and otherworldly leaning and it’s impressive that onstage they are able to convey this strange ritualistic and consciousness-bending atmosphere, while simultaneously delivering straight-up aural barbarity. In contrast, SEPTICFLESH [7] are a larger, slicker and more bombastic proposition and the combination of bands is jarring. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed by the intensity and musicianship of the Greek veterans and they attract a just as passionate and sizeable crowd. Unsurprisingly – but nevertheless disappointing – they lean heavily toward more recent material, omitting older classics. Another issue is the use of playback; Septicflesh are a symphonic band and not having at least one keyboard player or clean vocalist feels like an oversight. At one point we’re urged to “hear and feel” the choir – well, we can hear them, but we can’t see them, which is a bit unnerving.