Last night was something quite special in that four rather unique bands convened in Bergen and laid siege to the cool and dimly lit venue that is Kvarteret in Bergen, Norway. While legendary viking metallers Helheim and the progressive outfit that is Matter Mortem have been around for what seems like ages, the hugely experimental Vulture Industries burst into the scene back in 2003 and have released some utterly brilliant records since then. Finally, Dominanz was conceived in 2008 and have vomited forth some solid and enjoyable albums that successfully blend black metal, death metal, and industrial metal to great effect. Probably a couple of hundred people were there last night and there was a pleasant atmosphere at the venue throughout the night. Various band members were talking to the fans and friends present there, and there was an impressive merchandise stand down at the back of the hall. Let us proceed and see how each of the four ensembles fared last night, shall we?
Due to a hectic day at work and craphole logistics on the part of yours truly, we missed the first ten minutes of Dominanz, but the remaining twenty minutes were a joy to behold in that their punishing slab of industrial aggression came across nicely and that the crowd were into it. They were a tight unit and managed to evoke the morose and claustrophobic vibe of the song material on stage in a convincing manner. One other thing that stood out is how far these dudes have come these past few years in the sense that they exude much more charisma when performing live nowadays compared to what they did earlier on, but perhaps that is merely a natural progression. Either way, the strong melodies were all there, the half-hour set was suitably moody, and wicked tunes such as ‘Let the Death Enter‘ and ‘Death is Watching You‘ were a great mixture of varied metal music.
Creatively and musically speaking, the last couple of records by Madder Mortem are arguably their strongest and most absorbing yet, and it was incredibly rewarding to hear this talented quintet launch into their progressive metal with such vigor and energy. The charismatic and rather prominent vocals courtesy of Agnete Kirkevaag were top notch, but the sound was a tad murky at times and as such, the balance between between the male and female vocals were a bit uneven at times. Still, the band presented their complex and intriguing tracks in a highly interesting way. Not only are the songs well-crafted and enjoyable to listen to, but they also have plenty of light and shade to them and there are some fascinating nuances and contrasts in play within them. Highlights of the set included the bombastic ‘My Will Be Done‘ and the hauntingly beautiful delight that is the ‘Marrow‘ title track. Great stuff for sure!
The wildly eccentric Vulture Industries were up next and front man Bjoernar E. Nilsen wasted no time in grabbing the audience by the collar and sucking them into the band’s richly textured and deeply fascinating world of carnievalesque sounds. They were sharp and in your face, and the drama and theatricality of their tunes translate well in a live setting. As intense and compelling as ever, the wonderfully manic Bjoernar and his talented cohorts guided us through such gems as ‘Strangers‘ and ‘Pills of Conformity‘ among others. A brand new tune in the shape of ‘Deeper‘ was also premiered and sounded very promising for what is to come. The show ended on a high and pretty fucking deranged note with an insane Casio Kids cover tune. A spirited and inspired performance and without doubt the highlight of the evening for this writer.
Finally, the legendary Helheim took command of the stage and their bombastic yet dynamic one-hour set oozed conviction and determination. With a booming sound and V’gandr the ever-awesome front man working his magic up there on the stage, the band plowed through some excellent material, most of which was pulled from the upcoming record entitled Rignir and two predecessors, namely raunijaR and landawarijaR, both of which are absolutely stellar. One of the highlights was an aggressive rendition of the classic ‘Dualitet & Ulver‘ featuring Hoest (Taake) on guest vocals. Now to be honest, yours truly has witnessed countless Helheim gigs over the years and this one was not among the most exceptional or memorable ones, simply because the audience appeared rather passive and tame during most of the set. Some were probably hoping for some of the age-old classics from the 90s, but these guys have so much material to choose from and they have a splendid new album on the horizon that will blow your tits and dicks off, so naturally, they wanted to promote that one a bit. Like I said, the band delivered a solid show and there were focus and discipline to the affair, but at times it felt as if the crowd were off elsewhere in their heads. Again, it was neither the most sublime nor spine-tingling performance of theirs, but the material sounded great and they kept this writer engaged and moved throughout. The bottom line is that Helheim are not to be missed.
The European Strange Rain tour featuring Helheim, Madder Mortem, and Vulture Industries has officially begun!