Goth Club Destroyed by Death Metal Gods
Immolation, Malevolent Creation, Aborted and Noctiferia
Elektrowerkz, London, on May 13th 2003

by: James Montague
A relocation from the excellent Underworld Club in Camden to the repulsive gothic club Elektrowerkz in the Angel, Islington, would have been enough to put me off attending most gigs. But this was a chance to see one of my first extreme metal bands (Malevolent Creation) and a late-but-great discovery (Immolation), live in the flesh. This is a dual opportunity that will probably never present itself to me in Australia, so attendance was mandatory.

The venue was every bit as bad as I'd expected: a dingy, rat-infested passage with a filthy enclave where one could deposit a coat for the ludicrous fee of £1.50 (more than the VIP lounges of the classiest clubs in London). Upstairs, the cramped stage opened out onto a large room -- unfortunately, a pile of crap had been plonked smack bang in the middle of the room, upon which the sound engineers had set up base. That meant a huge area had a partial or zero view of the stage. Fan-fucking-tastic. Naturally I was determined to see the bands and cramped myself into the front section of the club for the night. Thankfully, once things got rolling the sound was good enough to cancel out my initial revulsion. London seems to be quite good at getting the live sound right -- something we could do with in Australia. Not a technical glitch all night!

In the publications I'd read, the gig had been advertised as an Immolation + Malevolent double bill, so I had no idea who was going to take the stage first. After being blown away by a magnificent doom-layered exotic death metal opener, I was keen to know who these chaps were. They were Noctiferia (www.noctiferia.com) from Slovenia, a name I won't be forgetting in a hurry. With some extensively and tastefully employed lead guitar work and majestic sound sampling, the band reminded me strongly of Nile or Morbid Angel (leads clearly inspired by Trey Azagthoth), but without the blast-beat prevalence of either band. This is my kind of death metal, and I will be looking out for their _Per Astra_ album on future shopping trips -- highly recommended to you folks too. The band fell for the usual openers' trap of concentrating too hard on their instruments, but their undeniable quality drew roars of approval from an unsuspecting audience.

Belgium's Aborted came on next and gave a fiery performance. The vocalist moaned about the mixing between songs, but I had no problem hearing anything. Gore-grind death metal isn't my thing, but it is great fun in a live setting when done well. And these guys were very good, blasting and banging away, the vocalist switching from guttural belch to asphyxiated screech as easily as a baby shits its nappies. Aborted seems to have some pretty nifty songwriting tricks, and threw in some catchy thrash riffs amongst the gory carnage. Much enjoyment was had by all.

I ventured up to the stage to witness the band that kicked my arse with _Retribution_ many moons ago. After chatting amicably with the bemused security fellow by the stage, I then proceeded to confirm his most dreaded stereotype by hurling my head up, down and around in manic fashion. There's not much else one can do when a band comes on stage to the sound of machine gun fire and belts out "Alliance or War". A frenzied set included many newer tracks with which I was unfamiliar, but they did play "Eve of the Apocalypse" from the _Retribution_ album, to the approval of a rapturous audience. Some observers were put off by the vocalist's appearance -- red t-shirt, short hair and gold chain -- hardcore all the way, but he did attack the songs with the required fury and made himself the centre of attention. The drummer (is it still Derek Roddy?) pumped out some of the fastest blast beats this side of Flo Mounier. For me, Malevolent was the star of the show, and three days of whiplash were testament to the fact.

I was exhausted by the time Immolation came home, and since I was still only familiar with _Close to a World Below_ (having bought _Unholy Cult_ earlier in the evening and held it in my pocket all night, cursing myself for not familiarising myself with it earlier) I decided to sit back for this one. If I were a long-time Immolation fan, they'd have been the show-stopper for me, no doubt. Bald guitarist Robert Vigna led the fray, enthusiastically sweeping and plucking away at his axe in true showman fashion, grinning and clearly loving the metal life. Bassist/vocalist Ross roared away with diabolical passion, while Alex laid waste to the drumkit in style. The memorable main riff of "Father, You're Not a Father" brought me back into the headbanging hotspot, and the hysteria amongst the small crowd built as the set went on. At the end of the performance a wasted crowd couldn't be arsed shouting the band's name, so we just shouted "More". We got more -- a round of greetings from Vigna preceded a couple of closing tracks, naturally ending with "Bring Them Down". A quality performance all around by a band whose gigs should be made compulsory for all metal enthusiasts.

Riding the tube home, I noticed my trousers covered with dirt and axel grease, confirming the decrepitude of the shitty Elektrowerkz. Those stains eventually washed away, but the memories of this night will not fade so easily. Possibly my best gig of all time, right up there with Nazxul's first few shows and the Morbid Angel / Damaged tour of 1995.

(article submitted 21/5/2003)


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