10th August 2013
Review & Photography by Graham Hilling
An early start means it’s a pretty empty Garage that greets opening band tonight, Pestifer from Belgium.
They play pretty generic death metal, but it’s competent and has enough twists and turns to hold the interest of the small crowd for the duration of the short set which they manage to squeeze 7 songs into.
Exiled to the Abyss
Witness of the Loss
Tree of Thorns
Svart Crown from France are next up and immediately make their mark; this is an incredibly under rated band imho.
They play music for grown-ups, mixing up styles and even adding a progressive element into the mix which goes some way to set them apart.
Think maybe a bit of Gojira with Behemoth? This is still black metal, still as heavy as a ton of bricks and still very unsettling but it doesn’t need corpse paint or other such trinkets, it’s just very real. The set is sadly short given the 4 band lineup this evening and 11pm curfew.
Most of the songs are taken from the current CD, “Profane”, which is a blinder of a record. “Genesis Architect” and closer “Revelation: Down Here Stillborn” both sear along, the guitars of JB Le Bail and Clément Flandrois thrashing ferociously (Flandrois could also windmill for France if it were an Olympic sport!). This is music perfectly suited to provide a backdrop to your worst nightmare, definitely worth your time to investigate further……
Svart Crown Setlist:
Nahash The Temptator
In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat
Revelatio: Down Here Stillborn
Following on from Svart Crown we have Ex Deo whose music and stage show is a bit of a departure from what we’ve seen thus far this evening.
Ex Deo is a side project of Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono, and acts as a vehicle for his interest in ancient Roman history.
So, we see the whole band kitted out in leather Roman clobber and Roman standards on the stage. The songs tell stories from the same period, set to an unyielding death metal soundtrack. Adding atmosphere is a symphonic backing track. And by now the venue is heaving with punters and the temperature has risen several degress, so much so that the Garage is starting to feel like a sauna!
It’s clear that Ex Deo have a healthy following in the crowd, they are well received and undoubtedly popular. Mixing it up with songs from both of their albums, the sound is pretty good throughout and Iacono himself does a great job on the vocals and acts as a worthy frontman for the band. He is palpably brimming with Romaness! Both band and crowd are in fine form, feeding off each others energy, cooking up a perfect storm.
Opener “Legion XIII” sets the tone and the standard is maintained throughout the short set with highlights being “Caligvla” with its’ epic, almost soundtrack feel and “The Tiberious Cliff” which steams along like an unstoppable force. Closer “Romulus” from the first album of the same name is a great way to finish. It’s an impressive performance considering how much use they make of backing tracks and how difficult this can be to re-create in a live environment. Perhaps a strange band to put on this bill but at the end of the day it worked pretty well, although you do get the feeling that they would be more at home on a larger stage rather than crammed into modest Garage stage (which is made even smaller by the super-sized kit).
Ex Deo Setlist:
The Tiberius Cliff (Exile to Capri)
The Final War (Battle Of Actium)
Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)
Teutoburg (Ambush of Varus)
Last band, but not least are Nile this evening. Prior to coming on, guitarist Karl Sanders wanders up and down the photopit taking pictures of the photographers and the crowd, he is clearly a man who absolutely loves what he is doing, and it is great to see a real genuine connection with the crowd.
Drummer George Kollias has the largest framed kit I have ever seen at the Garage and it dominates the centre of the stage…and it’s not just for show – this is a man who really can play and play accuarately at staggering speeds! Just aswell because the rest of Nile would leave him behind othewise.
Opener “Sacrifice Unto Sebek” from the 2005 album “Annihilation of the Wicked” clearly signals intentions for the night and the relentless, brutal pace is maintained for the duration of the set. Songs spanning pretty much all their albums are in evidence, including some real oldies – “Smashing the Antiu” and “The Howling of the Jinn” from the 1998 album “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”.
Nile are clearly enjoying themselves on the stage and now the temperature is up to truly epic levels. Tracks from the last album are blasted out, “Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame”, “Supreme Humanism of Megalomania” and “The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh” all well-rehearsed and performed faultlessly. Great song titles too!
The only thing that could be said to let Nile down a little is their visual performance which can be a little flat. This is just 4 guys getting up and playing, no costumes, none of the presence that some other bands have on a stage. Sure, this is about as unpretentious as it gets but after the showiness of Ex Deo it does look a little plain….Also, Dallas Toler-Wade doesn’t move too far from his mic and Karl Sanders doesn’t venture too far from his extensive pedal board and mic either but this can be forgiven given the level of playing and the energy coming from the stage.
By the time we get to closing song “Black Seeds of Vengeance” from the album of the same title, Nile have pretty much won over the packed venue. To my ears, some of the intensity can be a little overwhelming but I suspect that says more about me than Nile and I’m certainly in the minority this time.
So, it’s been a fine evening of death metal, for me the inventiveness of Svart Crown made them the band of the night but I suspect that most of the crowd would side with Ex Deo or Nile…who am I to argue?
Sacrifice Unto Sebek
Defiling the Gates of Ishtar
Hittite Dung Incantation
Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame
The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh
Supreme Humanism of Megalomania
The Blessed Dead
The Howling Of The Jinn
Smashing the Antiu
Unas Slayer Of The Gods
Black Seeds of Vengeance