The Underworld is, as it sounds, a dark venue. It's also very personal. There's a warm buzz in the air. Harsh lighting and a calm smoke generally picks out the atmosphere. The Underworld, being a basement venue, very quickly takes on it's namesake. This was a very fitting location for a night of Black Metal. I actually had an early start at this venue, so it was interesting to see the empty place quickly fill with the adornment of it's audience.
The Infernal Sea, first on, take the stage with a snarling enthusiasm. The venue is very much with it's blackened early birds but with a certain ambience they hold up arms at us. Sufficed to say, they gave a good performance and worked hard at hitting home that sense of atmosphere, but they suffered from a lack of power. There's a sense that their presence on stage was meant as like a performed atmosphere - guitarists adorning black plague masks. This was somewhat trapping them, however, despite delivering a sense of grim. There's no denying their presence but it just felt a bit awkward at times.
|The Infernal Sea|
Steadily the audiences arises within the blackened depths of the Underworld as Voices take the stage. Growing in power Voices provide a very experimental approach to a very harrowing sound. The sheer range of the melancholic screeches of the Black Metal vocalist really hit home and provided a refreshing and atmospheric take. With an odd melody the powerful music behind it felt so fitting and they went from strength to strength. Kicking into the crowd a harsh power, their music energetically dark as we started to see the nihilistic movements within the crowd. Things were beginning to take shape.
This build up was quite impressive, Anaal Nathrakh, were to answer the final call. By this point there felt a real sense of that dark oppression of the atmosphere as the night draws itself to its close. Anaal Nathrakh are a brutal and harsh act, ready to throw in their best in atmospheric tones and strong punches; a willingness to properly explore some screeches and truly powerful riffs. A dark atmosphere can be very difficult to achieve and often means the expense of the power a riff can give, furthermore it can loose energy in favour of presence. Anaal Nathrakh somehow manage to grab all three and smash you with them. It almost felt like a special night as with utter joy the evil sounds were thrown at you (and many of the audience too during 'Forging Towards the Sunset'). The crowd gave a brutal response to this that, at times, felt utterly chaotic and not always to the best. The sheer energy mustered by the band gave such a perfect feel to the night. On many occasions the impressive symbiosis of band, venue and audience surprised me: through the unlikely last song after their final two (Anaal Nathrakh tend to give a very honest 'we're not going to play with you there's only two left'); the guitarist's naked arse!; and the energy and joy that you feel from a 'final gig' or 'first gig' performance. The stench of evil from Anaal Nathrakh has never felt so indulgently corrupting.