Situated smack bang in the midst of a vast, concrete labyrinth of glistening, glassily anonymous Wagamamas, Vue Cinemas and supermarkets, the unbroken, corporate uniformity of the O2 Academy hardly lends itself to the lawless, wildly energised pleasures of extreme metal. But as a queue of excitedly chatting metalheads duskily snakes its way round the corner of a brightly-lit shop window bearing the word “LOVE” in giant, baby pink neon lettering, it's clear there’s no dampening the spirits of the dedicated fans eagerly awaiting what promises to be one of the most electrifying live dates of 2019.
With the vast majority of tonight’s unfortunate guests still stuck outside the venue in the evidently still-sizeable queue, it’s a crying shame many fans will sadly be deprived of Baest’s supremely vicious and unrelenting onslaught. Ceaselessly lurching and accelerating through immense, darkly churning slabs of scabrous groove, the youthful Danes are gloriously rife with the grave-scented reek of death metal’s most classic, genre-defining icons. Yet, as illustrated by the delirious, lacerating fretwork and blackly majestic melodies that spill forth from the pulverising throes of ‘Atra Mors’, this is a band already in firm possession of their own uniquely-styled identity. With its darkly entangled strains of scalding riffage instantly working their coldly mesmeric magic on the senses, it’s with irresistible, deathly magnetism that we’re dragged headlong into the bludgeoning and intensely sinister throes of ‘Crosswhore.’ And from wetly viscous lashings of congealing, Bloodbath-esque bass through to frantic stints of knife-edged technical shredding, these newcomer death metallers score the instant approval of onlookers with practised ease and boundless energy.
Gathering ripping momentum through great, propulsive slabs of jarring bass and caustic screams, London aggressors Dyscarnate waste little time in unceremoniously pummelling listeners into submission. Brawny and relentless through densely orchestrated episodes of battering, uncomplicated ultra-violence, there’s no small amount of adrenaline-fuelled pleasure to be sourced from this satisfyingly raw and unforgiving assault. Punctuating its pummelling, darkly rhythmic backbone with sporadic fits of percussive ultra-violence, ‘Cain Enable’ is a savage, if rather simplistically linear exercise in unadulterated aggression.
With all eyes riveted on a presently unoccupied stage, the tense anticipation at hand is almost palpable enough to taste as the stifling, moist heat of eight hundred densely crammed human bodies rises thick and cloying from the already heaving epicentre of the venue. And despite having relocated from the Underworld’s modestly proportioned quarters to this corporate giant of a gig venue, every conceivable inch of the O2 is packed to the proverbial rafters. Then, as the venue’s neon-suited security crew nervously survey the teeming expanse of punters gathered here tonight, it’s a matter of milliseconds before the manic, densely clustered staccato blasts of ‘One-Eyed Nation’ unleash the near-biblical levels of frenzied chaos they’ve no doubt been dreading. Imploding in thick and fast, densely bludgeoning succession above a turbulent expanse of bone-splintering groove, frontman Rafał Piotrowski belches forth a truly nightmarish, vocal cord-shredding assault, his flowing trademark dreads whipping restlessly back and forth like a seething nest of agitated vipers.
With its bristling multitude of bone-scraping, thickly-muscled textures contorting violently beneath madly accelerating strains of knife-edged lead guitar, ‘Kill The Cult’ combines flawlessly engineered technical prowess and raw, face-melting aggression to electrifying effect. And by the time ‘Blood Mantra’s’ sinewy, pulverising throes erupt in an insanely paced orgy of barrelling aggression, the O2 is a joyously chaotic mass of seething motion as crowd-surfer after crowd-surfer hurtles toward the stage atop a turbulent sea of ecstatic fans. From the sleekly synchronised carnage of killer cuts from 2017's ‘Anticult’ to the curious, violently mesmeric time signatures and gargling horrors of the iconic ‘Spheres of Madness’, few performers are more relentlessly energised and brutal than these inimitable titans of the genre.