LIVE REVIEW: Dødheimsgard + Bölzer + Blaze of Perdition @ Camden Underworld, London
It’s not 100 per cent clear precisely what manner of pure, blackly intoxicating devilry is coursing through Polish waters right now. But from the pulverising, stirringly ritualistic horrors of Hate through to the lacerating, exquisitely orchestrated blasphemies of Batushka, there’s no mistaking the unearthly magic that’s seized possession of this presently flourishing national scene.
So it comes as little surprise that fellow countrymen Blaze of Perdition are a thoroughly mesmerising proposition from the get-go, plunging listeners headlong into a densely orchestrated frenzy of abrasive tremolo and caustic screams. The Underworld’s predictably subpar sound system lends to the mix an uncomfortably noisome excess of volume in places, but despite these bothersome sound gremlins, there’s no mistaking the bloodcurdling ultra-violence and eerily transporting atmospherics that reside here in richly absorbing abundance.
Extracted from hotly anticipated new offering, ‘The Harrowing of Hearts’, freshly unleashed single ‘Transmutation of Sins’ is deliciously thick with dusky, intoxicating grooves that bristle like a swarm of agitated hornets beneath a deafening hail of hammering blasts. Deftly intertwined with an absorbing wealth of intricate fretwork whose snaking, coldly introspective progressions elevate the listener to a plane far removed from the earthly reaches of this mortal realm, theirs is a sound unmistakably awash with deathly beauty. With these diabolical energies manifesting most potently in the coldly harrowing throes of ‘Detachment Brings Serenity’, it’s with masterfully exercised pacing and restraint that icily glimmering melodic details infiltrate the senses like some slow-acting but assuredly lethal toxin. Heavy and rapidly darkening with the crushing, unmistakable gravity of despair, deeply contorted strains of tremolo and tombstone-heavy blasts enfold the listener in their grim and coldly inexorable embrace. As the last echoing strains of eerily transcendental reverb finally ebb away into the ether, there’s a momentary breath of absolute, almost grave-like silence before the crowd promptly erupts into riotous applause.
Such gushing superlatives as ‘electrifying’ or ‘awe-inspiring’ may have long been reduced to the stuff of laughably worn out journalistic cliché. But oh, how utterly, indisputably deserving Bölzer are of such lofty praise from the moment this impeccably cohesive duo launch into a madly accelerating onslaught of ravaging riffs and ricocheting blasts that leave the synapses instantly crackling with adrenaline. Darkly silhouetted beneath a luminous flurry of flickering strobes, charismatic frontman Okoi Jones snarls and bellows into the mike like the proverbial man possessed, hurling himself bodily into every visceral, ghoulishly contorted note and syllable. As his howling, diabolical curses echo eerily over the PA like restless spirits departing into the ether, a dusky plethora of knife-edged guitar accents and luxuriantly elongated lines of distortion display meticulous arrangement and explosive energy at every expertly executed turn. Through richly atmospheric layerings of ambient noise and stirringly ritualistic utterances, the deliciously ominous ‘Æstivation’ takes ample time to ramp up intensely cinematic measures of tension before imploding in a frenzy of tremolo-laden ultra-violence. With its violently writhing, sinewy grooves and bludgeoning rhythmic blasts gathering insane acceleration as we delve progressively deeper and deeper into its craggy, grimly inhospitable territories, there’s a dark magnetism about the Swiss two-piece that’s nothing short of mesmerising to observe.
With this blackened, richly transporting reverie now regrettably broken as Bölzer lay down their instruments and depart the stage, making the stylistic leap to Dødheimsgard’s mind-altering, avant-garde antics makes for an admittedly jarring change of pace to tonight’s wondrously immersive proceedings. Emerging out of an extended, almost Vaudeville-esque episode of airily tinkling piano, haphazardly arranged flurries of discordant fretwork abound with madly disorientating energy as eccentric frontman Vicotnik flails his arms, drunken marionette-style, in the air with blissfully uninhibited abandon. Frenziedly barking and snarling in a manner not dissimilar to Shining’s most gleefully demented moments, there’s a certain, visceral charm about the Norwegians’ wildly flamboyant theatrics. From crushingly brutal slabs of bass-laden groove to dizzying whorls of mind-altering riffage and endlessly spiralling progressive configurations, the various transitions underpinning these genre-straddling compositions are handled with fluent, unmistakably seasoned ease. And be it in the frantically accelerating blasts and curious electronic trappings of 2008 standout ‘Sonar Bliss’ or the ripping, undiluted savagery of 1995 classic ‘Kronet Til Konge’, there’s no shortage of varied and playfully energised entertainment to be had here.