A Doomsday Celebration
Marduk & Vreid @ The Underworld, London, 28 November 2007
by: Jackie Smit
With the recent slew of black metal gigs happening in the English capital, you'd imagine that Camden's theatrical make-up stores must be running dry -- at least of black eyeliner and white foundation. The sheer volume doesn't seem to have scared off the crowds either, though the floor is surprisingly sparse when Vreid take to the stage just past 19:30. Airing several numbers from their recent _I Krig_ platter, as well as 2006's criminally overlooked _Pitch Black Brigade_, these lads demonstrate both ample commitment to their craft and a bucketload of talent. It's a shame more punters aren't on hand to see it on display.

Still, there's no doubting who everyone is here to see, and when Marduk tear into "The Levelling Dust" like a grizzly bear suffering from blue balls, they claim the night as their own with a triumphant air of authority. It's immediately obvious why Morgan HÃ¥kansson has been so enthused with his new frontman. With two albums under his belt, Mortuus has thoroughly settled in and devours his role with relish, lending a far greater sense of menace, aggression and energy to tracks both old and new than his predecessor could ever have dreamed of doing.

Which is not to infer that his bandmates are slouches, mind you. Though the sole guitarist, HÃ¥kansson delivers each garrot-wire riff with enough brute force to make you wonder where they're hiding the backing track. That theory is truly only debunked when midway through their second song, a guitar string snaps and the rest of the band march on valiantly without him for the better part of two minutes. It doesn't detract from the performance however, which from start to finish is nothing short of scintillating. Older numbers like "Beyond the Grace of God", "Baptism by Fire" and "Materialized in Stone" are given a thorough dusting off and a lick of adrenalized veneer, while material off this year's outstanding _Rom 5:12_ effort is a picture of simmering misanthropic malice. They even manage to make an otherwise tawdry "With Satan & Victorious Weapons" sound positively bristling.

When it's all over an hour later, and Unleashed prepare to take to the stage, I decide to make an early exit having never cared for their pseudo-Viking dross. Judging by the look of those who stay behind -- barely numbering half the size of Marduk's earlier audience -- the "World of Warcraft" will be missing a hundred odd inhabitants for at least another hour or two.

(article submitted 2/12/2007)

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