30th October, 2015
Review by Jarod Lawley
Videos by Jo Blackened
After what seems like a suspiciously length walk along Camden High Street, I find The Barfly, painted black and white and located on a corner, with over one hundred people queuing to get in a Halloween shop just a couple of doors down. Inside, I am pleasantly surprised to find a similar set up to The Black Heart, with a bar area downstairs and live room upstairs. After a short drink, I hear rumblings of metal from upstairs and head towards the stage to find Verdelet (3.5/5) take their positions and begin their half an hour long set.
Possibly due to a change in stage times from promoters Old Empire at very short notice, it is disappointing that the band have but a handful in attendance at the start. Regardless, they carry on with a minimalist attitude, speaking to the small crowd only to introduce each song.
Their head banging, black and white make up and belligerent blast beats show them to be true to black metal’s traditions, with songs from their most recent studio EP, “Lights Of The Old World” standing out for me. The guitar is almost inaudible from all corners of the room, causing their usually gritty sound to become even more bass driven, whilst vocalist Morior performs his growls much more expressively and freely live than in the studio.
Either due to the murky sound mix or the lack of crowd enthusiasm, Verdelet seem a bit frustrated on stage, as they slam their guitars down after thirty minutes and leave the stage drowning in screeching feedback.
Whilst it’s great to see the UK black metal scene represented, I feel that Verdelet are definite oddballs of the bill tonight, as they don’t use war as a lyrical or aesthetical theme, and eyes are very quickly turned to Stahlsarg (4/5), who offer a noticeable notch up in professionalism.
Having followed Stahlsarg since their performance at Bloodstock 2014, I am excited to hear the band perform songs from their recently released debut, “Comrades of Death”, and to see how they have adapted to being a four-piece after the departure of frontman Metzger earlier in the year. Walking onto the stage, the band look ghastly in their tattered uniforms and corpse paint, before they open with a meaty, guitar driven sound and the emergence of smoke from the light boxes.
It’s refreshing to see an underground band who make such an effort with their stage show, but with vocal duties now handled by rhythm guitarist Eissturm, the lack of an instrument-free frontman means that their delivery is less engaging and this leads to the audience having to make a greater effort to absorb the Stahlsarg experience. This experience is also hindered by what can only be described as a drunken imbecile at the front, who frequently invades the stage, knocking over a mic stand, a lighting prop, and then an attendee, before being rightfully removed by security later on.
Stahlsarg continue in bringing their blitz to London, with my personal favourite track “Frostbite Division” standing out the most. I do feel however that this era of the band has a lot more to give than what is displayed tonight, so I look forward to seeing them again, and my fingers are crossed that they get booked for BOA 2016!
With such frequent support slots in London, Eastern Front (3.5/5) are definitely London’s black metal house band, despite the band’s actual location in East England. Tonight they feed of the energy of the crowd, delivering a set compiled of the best tracks from their two LPs. As someone who has seen the band many times now though, I would like to see some greater variation in their set list/stage show, although I expect that this will come with the release of their third album, which is due soon.
There is a large amount of loyal EF fans in attendance tonight, but with many sounds played by backing track and a failure to use the stage space economically; their set feels a little flat to me. Up close however, vocalist Nagant’s performance is definitely worthy of a mention, as his emotional delivery ranges from wild, furious gestures to cold, dead stares at the audience. Their forty-five minute set goes by quickly, as they announce that their last song, “Blood On Snow” is dedicated to the night’s headliners.
Eastern Front setlist
- Retribution Sky
- Descent Into Genocide
- Ghouls of Leningrad
- The Hanging of Faith
- Blood On Snow
Despite the influence I know that Endstille (4/5) have had on the war-themed support bands, I was unaware of much of the German black metal band’s studio material. Admittedly, what I had heard hadn’t particularly impressed me.
Storming onto the stage with a nihilistic punk attitude however, Endstille quickly change my opinion of them as they begin their hour-long black metal assault. They bring songs from their most recent records to life on a dark stage, lit only by orange lights- perfect for the Halloween season, whilst the crowd remains a perpetual blur of raised fists and banging heads. Despite a basic stage show, and a seemingly smaller crowd than the previous band, it’s clear why Endstille are headlining tonight. Their songs sounds gargantuan, full of speed and thrash metal spirit, and despite his failure to use the whole stage space, vocalist Zingultus has the crowd in his hands, and when he calls for a mosh pit, dozens of metallers throw themselves across the beer-soaked floors of the Barfly to comply.
After “Endstilles Reich”, the band walked off stage, linger on the stairs next to stage for a minute, and then walked back on to perform to more songs and to offer some drunken “Germany vs England” banter. A rather pointless encore, I think, as it only results in twenty or so people leaving to go home.
At only just over 60 minutes, Endstille’s set is effective and powerful, and for a non-fan like myself, gives a deadly taste of what they are about.
- The Refined Nation
- Ripping Angelflesh
- Conquest is Atheism
- Sick Heil
- World Aflame
- Endstille’s Reich
With four-short sets and varying crowd attendances, tonight felt much like a taster session of the four-bands, which in a world where we’ve become accustomed to 90 minute + sets, doesn’t feel so bad. As the last night of the tour, there was a definite “beer and partying” mood about the night, something you can sample for yourself with this post-gig chat with Stahlsarg!