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  • Reviewed by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: I Am Morbid + Belphegor + Hate @ The Underworld, London

From the pulverising, pitch-black contortions of Slavic metal titans Hate to Belphegor’s endlessly lacerating signature carnage, tonight’s tantalising selection of support acts alone is a big enough draw for the many scores of metal fanatics gathered here this evening. And as ex-Morbid Angel icon David Vincent and co. gear up to commemorate the 30th anniversary of influential opus ‘Blessed Are The Sick’, there’s already a tangible buzz of anticipation among fans by the time HATE unleash their darkly bludgeoning craft upon an unsuspecting capital.

Underpinned by gargantuan slabs of churning bass and battering blasts that instantly flood the synapses with adrenaline, theirs is a staggering presence that rumbles with god-like wrath from the get-go. Arranged with artful, calculating precision, the Polish band’s myriad strains of snaking, densely muscled fretwork and searing guitar accents make for a viciously compelling live spectacle. With its elegantly twisted guitar leads reverberating majestically above layer upon layer of bone-shattering blasts, ‘Valley of Darkness’ comprises a sonically immense blend of brutality and deliciously blackened atmospherics. And, as much as Hate are an engrossing proposition on record, nothing quite compares to witnessing their civilisation-levelling sound in the heated immediacy of the moment.

Having once again taken up their mantle as one of the most electrifying fixtures of the European tour circuit, Austrian aggressors BELPHEGOR waste not so much as a nanosecond in whipping up a vicious, densely layered assault on the senses. With its horror movie-style intro being rapidly submerged in a frantic implosion of jagged tremolo and insanely paced hyperblasts, ‘The Devil’s Son’ is a veritable supernova of searing ultra-violence. And despite the frankly stupefying pace at which it effortlessly batters the senses into submission, these icily abrasive accents are equally dripping with coldly calculating malice. Corpse-painted faces pale and cadaverous beneath a flickering flurry of strobes, onward we proceed into the crippling yet coldly entrancing throes ‘Conjuring the Dead’, its blackly glimmering flourishes abounding with apocalyptic majesty. Equal parts sculpted precision and pure, eardrum-decimating chaos, this epic slab comprises one of the most intensely sinister highlights of Belphegor’s brutalising repertoire.

In a grandiose flourish of luminous stage lights and darkly gleaming black leather, I AM MORBID let loose a barrelling onslaught of insanely paced blasts and airily lacerating guitar leads, their iconic frontman visibly revelling in every conceivable second of stage time. “Wow! Where’s all this energy coming from, London?” beams an elated David Vincent, surveying the endless droves of delighted fans still piling into the venue as the band’s hugely anticipated set gets underway. And from ‘Immortal Rites’s’ whirling strains of tremolo to the vocal cord-liquefying ferocity of ‘Visions From the Darkside’, these frantically energised classics are quick to work their adrenaline-fuelled magic on the crowd.

Then, it’s headlong into the crushingly expansive riffs and corrosive growls of iconic title track ‘Blessed Are The Sick’, its lethally taut, reverberating bass lines moving the crowd to a frenzy of chaotic motion. With its darkly contorted screams and dizzying crescendos of knife-edged fretwork, ‘Pain Divine’ finds Vincent and co. at the towering peak of their viciously energised powers, while ‘Dominate’ is audibly drenched in tremolo-stricken hostility. Sourcing classic bangers and brutally blasting anthems from all corners of their influential back catalogue, this is as raw and ragged a manifestation of the old school as tonight’s diehard crowd could possibly desire.


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