Early gigs in Glasgow seem to be getting more and more common. On a Wednesday night the doors opening at 6:30pm would often mean only a small fraction of the crowd would be around for the first band. I was surprised to find, although I was down at the venue at 6pm, there was already a queue forming.
It was a bit of a disappointing start to the night for me, I was quite excited at the prospect of interviewing Marduk before the show, but unfortunately due to a bit of a mix-up the tour manager knew nothing of this. He disappeared into the venue to ask Morgan if he was up for an interview but was never to be seen again. Thankfully there were some friendly faces in the growing queue to chat to while waiting on the doors.
Liverpool-based black metal outfit Ethereal are the first band on tonight. The band have been around since the early 2000’s, and released a couple of EP’s, but it wasn’t until they recently signed to Candlelight Records that they released their debut album Opus Aethereum back in January. I’ve never seen these guys live before, and wasn’t familiar with the band’s material, but their debut album has been getting quite a few favourable reviews so I was interested in checking them out. While the venue was by no means full when they hit the stage they still had a pretty decent turnout.
Their brand of symphonic styled black metal went down well with the crowd, quite a few hands in the air beating in time with the music, and singer Naut got the crowd chanting “oi oi oi” at one point. Hooded, bullet belt wearing, frontman Naut stands on the monitor for a large part of the gig allowing him to lean over the crowd and build a rapport with them. The band have a good energy about them although many of intricacies of their sound were lost in the mix. I could see guitar solos were going on but they were just not loud enough to make any kind of impression. The lighting engineer wasn’t really doing them any favours either. They played their entire set under an unchanging blue light. The Audio’s lighting rig has different coloured lights so why not use them? By the end of their set they had won over the crowd and it’d be good to see these guys up here again but with a longer set.
French blackened death metallers Bliss of Flesh are up next. After a quick sound check, in front of the crowd – I’m guessing they didn’t have time for a sound check earlier – they were ready to kick off. The Audio’s lighting rig changes from blue to red and stays red for the entire duration of the gig. They are the only band on the bill tonight without black metal corpse paint but regardless they put on a good show and seem to have quite a few fans in the audience. Unfortunately, for me standing at the barrier at the right of the hall, some of the guitar solos were again lost in the mix. The band have 2 albums out, Emaciated Deity and Beati Pauperes Spiritu, which I’ll be checking out on the strength of their performance tonight.
I’ve never managed to catch Belphegor live before so was looking forward to their show tonight. The roadies set up the stage bringing on some mic stands with their contents initially covered. Once unveiled they revealed what looked like an array of goat, or sheep skulls, and crosses made from bones. This no doubt looked more impressive from a distance but from where I was standing I could clearly see the Sellotape that was holding it all together. I’d have expected the props to be tied together with entrails, or perhaps even string, but Sellotape?
Even though the first two bands got a respectable turnout the venue has filled up for Belphegor. The band take to the stage, their backs to the audience, and an ominous sounding monastic type atmospheric intro tape begins, before they tear into “Feast Upon the Dead”. It’s obvious from just the first few moments of playing, that while the first two bands were good, Belphehor are just on another level entirely and blew everything that came before them out of the water. They have an incredible energy and atmosphere about them.
Bass player Serpenth constantly windmills and moshes through the set and Helmuth Lehner’s picking hand is just a blur through some of the faster sections of the songs. Every member on stage gives 110%. The first crowd surfers of the night sail over the crowd towards the stage with one of them managing to knock over a skull clad mic stand; a roadie hurriedly stands it up again and fortunately the Sellotape has kept it intact.
The band aren’t afraid to slow things down and “Conjuring The Dead” is one of the highlights of the set for me, proving that sometime slower is better, it’s a song that’s just dripping with evil. “Gasmask Terror”, another song from the last album, is another modern classic. Singer Helmuth often makes eye contact with the crowd and is a great front-man; his parting words to the crowd are “Enjoy Marduk”. It’d be great to see these guys do their own tour with a longer set sometime.
Headliners Marduk need no introduction; they’re a band that have been scorching our eardrums with black metal for over 20 years and if you don’t know who they are, or what they sound like by now, you must have been living under a rock. The new album Frontschwein is nothing short of stunning so I was anticipating great things tonight.
After an intro tape of what sounds like aeroplanes passing over head, and other World War II type sounds, the band launch into the title track of their latest album. It’s been a long time since I last caught Marduk live, I think it was back on the Panzer Division Marduk tour, so it was great to finally see them again. With only one guitar, bass, and drums every instrument is crystal clear and Morgan’s guitar, an urban camo ESP, just sounds huge. Unfortunately the first of many technical problems rears its ugly head as the guitar cuts out. The band plough on regardless and thankfully this is sorted very quickly.
You don’t last this long in the metal business without being able to pull it off live and Marduk are like a well oiled machine. They’re playing is absolutely faultless. Normally known for their super fast approach to black metal the second song of the set actually takes it down a notch. “Blond Beast” is another great track from Frontschwein and has the crowd moshing along. It’s the faster tracks that this Glasgow crowd seem to be here for however, and the pit behind me really gets going for songs such as “Into Utter Madness” and “Cloven Hoof”.
Sadly technical problems didn’t stop with the guitar and Mortuus’s microphone started to cut in and out during songs then eventually failed altogether. Sound guys ran around frantically trying to get it fixed and eventually the band stopped and there were two fairly long and awkward breaks as harassed looking roadies desperately tried to get things working again. Mortuus was looking increasingly annoyed at the whole thing, and understandably so, and after a great version of “Afrika” the band left the stage. Myself and a large part of the audience were left wondering if that was the end of the gig, the lights hadn’t come up, and what sounded like old war era songs were playing over the P.A, it turned out that they had indeed finished. I managed to get a photo of the set-list, many thanks to the couple that allowed me to take the photo, and it turned out the band had cut the set short by one song. We didn’t get to hear “Souls of Belial” which would have been a great song to end the gig on but I guess time ran out due to the on-stage problems.
Four great bands tonight and for the most part it was a great night. It was unfortunate that the Marduk set was plagued with technical problems though, and it did mar what could have been a perfect gig.
As a side note the lighting in the venue, while it’s a black metal gig and obviously meant to have a darker atmosphere, made it difficult to photograph so unfortunately the photo gallery for this gig isn’t quite as large as some others.