Zornheym + Damim live @ The Black Heart, London
With its cosy informality and dedicated focus on fast-rising underground talent, The Black Heart is always a welcome reprieve from the coldly impersonal corporate giants currently dominating London’s ever-dwindling live music circuit. And on the uncharacteristically bustling, beer-swilling Thursday night that sees symphonic extreme crew Zornheym make their anticipated London debut, it seems tonight is no exception.
After initially disarming a modest scattering of fans with their easy, unpretentious banter, Damim waste little time in bludgeoning listeners into submission with a gloriously crushing and raggedly abrasive stint. Gathering ripping momentum across relentless episodes of turbulent bass groove and thorny spirals of reverb, a breathless, momentary pause in proceedings is met with an enthusiastic splatter of applause as deadpan frontman Nathan drily informs listeners, “It’s not finished yet.” With these knife-edged textures and battering feats of brute force being richly steeped in generous lashings of bloodcurdling screams and deathly atmospheres, theirs is a wondrously energised onslaught of a set.
Emerging onstage to the shrill, darkly cinematic creaking of hefty iron gates and anguished screams, an uncontrollably euphoric Zornheym instantly decimate eardrums as explosive clusters of blastbeats accelerate madly atop layer upon layer of luxuriantly gothic strings. Darkly resplendent in black studded bondage jackets, it’s with viciously energised panache and meticulous precision that the Swedes expertly immerse listeners in their darkly absorbing tales of raving lunacy and tragedy. All tattooed sinew and manic, wild-eyed theatrics, statuesque frontman Bendler dominates the stage in every conceivable sense of the word, lunging into the crowd like a man possessed as scalding, fluidly agile lines of guitar flood the senses with adrenaline. With its pummelling, violently propulsive momentum and dizzying choral blasts recalling the epic, coldly majestic presence of Fleshgod Apocalypse, ‘The Opposed’ displays impeccable skill in blending rhythmically explosive pacing and symphonic complexity to exhilarating effect. Then there’s the pounding, relentlessly percussive bombast and tautly muscular intricacies of a ‘A Trifecta of Horrors’ that frantically unravel in bewildering spirals of whirling, Tim Burton-style strings.
But with its Psycho-esque flurries of knife-edged violin that plunge the listener headlong into a wintry undertow of bone-scraping tremolo and lacerating, technical flourishes, ‘…and the Darkness Came Swiftly’ undoubtedly forms the electrifying, nightmarishly cinematic climax of tonight's performance. Indeed, so wildly ecstatic is the crowd’s reception at the close of the set that deafening cries of “We want more!” see Zornheym’s bewildered band members scramble back to the stage in a state of shirtless and visibly delighted amazement. Having already performed their one and only album to date in its glorious, 38-minute entirety, a slightly befuddled Bendler laughs, “Okay guys, let’s take it from the top” as the four-piece set about replaying a couple of choice tracks that wrap up their set in utterly electrifying and impeccable style.