The World Ov Worms Descends on London
Zyklon, Myrkskog, Reign of Erebus and Void @ London Camden Underworld, 6 June 2003
by: Jackie Smit
Before I begin this review, I feel that I should clarify an important point from my perspective. Living in the British capital has afforded me the opportunity to see several live acts, and with greater frequency, I find myself agreeing with Mr Kerry King's opinion that there's more to a stage performance than simply playing your band's music. Regardless of how good a band might sound on disc, or how technically proficient songs are rendered to the audience, the keys to the success of the group's set lie in the outfit's ability to communicate with and to the audience, the band's conviction, attitude and enthusiasm for their work. Having attended upwards of thirty gigs in the past twelve months, I find that in this sense the Americans seem to generally have the edge over their European counterparts in a big way. Where Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Nile and Immolation simply resonate with visceral on-stage intensity and consistently create an atmosphere of excitement throughout their shows, the same can not be said of bands like Samael, Sinister or unfortunately in tonight's case Zyklon and Myrkskog.

Opening acts are pretty much always set for a rough ride, particularly when they are the lead-in for two bands as eagerly anticipated by an audience as tonight's main attractions. However at the same time an opening slot of this profile can provide an excellent platform for a band to win over many new fans. Too bad then, that nobody seems to have told this to industrial black metallers Void -- the first act to take to the Underworld stage this evening. With beats and samples provided by a very nonchalant looking character standing behind a fully set up PC, the band already lack the dynamic of a live drummer and don't seem motivated to launch a plausible attempt to compensate for this. While both the guitarist and bassist at times indulge the audience with the odd bout of headbanging, it is the vocalist who pours acid all over the band's performance. Either drunk or stoned and utterly disinterested, he treats the audience with a veritable sense of contempt. Never once even thanking the few members of the crowd who do applaud, he flays himself around in a distinctly patronizing fashion in between vocal sections and storms off stage halfway through the final song. The reason for this is quite unapparent, because even though Void suffer from the odd sound gremlin it certainly isn't comparable to some of the acoustic disasters the Camden Underworld has been host to in the past. Now were their actual music any good, this unprofessional and frankly disgusting display would not have bothered me so much; but for the most part every song just sounds like an incoherent, pretentious mess. I have seen some shoddy opening acts in my time, but Void are possibly the biggest pile of shit to ever darken a bill with their presence.

With both their _Superior Massacre_ and _Deathmachine_ records being current favourites of mine, things look set to get much, much better when Norway's Myrkskog hit the stage. While playing as a three piece diminishes their stage presence somewhat, they do a great job of recreating their hellish noise on stage. The problem is that in between songs, both front man and bassist retire to the rear area of the stage and spend easily thirty seconds to a minute talking to each other and taking swigs of water. Now, I certainly don't begrudge them a bit of liquid refreshment (Lord knows, they probably need it), but when this happens after every song, it starts to feel more like you're watching a rehearsal as opposed to an actual performance, and ironically -- seeing as how Myrkskog drummer Secthdamon fronts them -- the same problem will hamper Zyklon's set later on. On the bright side, "Domain of the Superior" and "Bleeding Wrists" sound fantastic, and although Myrkskog's constant 1000 BPM sometimes makes them sound a bit one dimensional, they at least seem excited to actually be on stage.

I'm not sure why I was initially a bit sceptic about Reign of Erebus, but they turn out to be the highlight of the evening. Not being particularly familiar with any of the their material, their furious, aggressive and raw black metal assault is made all the more enjoyable by the fact that the band seem literally overjoyed to have been included on the evening's bill. For the duration of their thirty minute set, they give their absolute all -- to the extent that I find myself genuinely sorry for the vocalist when his microphone cuts out during a storming rendition of what I'm led to believe is a new track. In fine style (and unlike Void before them) their sheer determination simply bulldozes through this proverbial roadblock. It's almost a shame to hear them announce their last song for the evening, but one thing is for sure -- Immortal, Marduk and others of their ilk had better start looking over their shoulders.

With their forthcoming sophomore opus, _Aeon_, looming on the horizon, tonight is the perfect opportunity for Zyklon to not only show off their new front man, Secthdamon, to a rabid English audience, but also stir up some valuable word of mouth for their upcoming record. They succeed admirably in both respects, but like Myrkskog they have yet to master the art of connecting properly with an audience. On the bright side, Secthdamon's vastly superior vocal range adds a whole new dynamic to Zyklon's already impressive veneer and new tracks like "Psyklon Aeon" and "Core Solution" sound fantastic. Ex-Emperor man Zamoth towers over the left of the stage, leering at the audience and overseeing the chaos spewed forth by his new proteges, his previous highly-acclaimed musical endeavours clearly awarding him a level of charisma far above that of his bandmates. But despite excellent performances of "Chaos Deathkult", "Transcendental War" and a rapturously received rendition of "I Am the Black Wizards", it still feels like Zyklon should have offered more. And when they conclude their set after just forty five minutes, one can't help but feel even more saddened at the thought of Emperor's demise.

(article submitted 12/6/2003)

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