Thursday, March 23, 2017 06:07

Posts Tagged ‘Sinmara’

ORATION MMXVII – HÚRRA, REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND (February 16-18, 2017)

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Rebirth Of Nefast - Oration MMXVIIEighteen bands took to the stage at Húrra in Reykjavík over the course of three dark nights in February, 2017 and my journey to the most-northerly capital in the world was one that I will never forget. It’s difficult to know where to begin with a review of such a momentous event so I’ll start in the middle, just to be awkward…

Night Two: Friday presented me with the welcome opportunity to witness both Slidhr and Sinmara for the third time inside a lucky six-month period. Slidhr were the fourth band of the night and they delivered an incredible set, one that is so tight, concise and honed at this juncture that it beggars belief.

Mastermind Joseph Deegan utilises the services of Sinmara duo Bjarni Einarsson and Garðar S. Jónsson in the live setting as well as ex-Sinmara bassist Wann (aka Stephen Lockhart of Rebirth of Nefast, Studio Emissary and, of course Oration). Watching the quartet go through their paces on stage, it’s mad to think they don’t live in the same town and practice together every day.

Joe and Stephen are also members of Haud Mundus, who were the third band on stage tonight. I think this was their first and only gig and it was a belter. Rookies Nexion opened the second day’s festivities and they can be proud of their performance. Abominor took to the stage third and they were excellent; looking forward to a full-length from them. Sinmara did what Sinmara invariably does – an immense display of harsh black savagery.

The headline act on Day Two was The Ruins of Beverast – one of my all-time favourites. It was a real privilege to witness Alexander Von Meilenwald in such an intimate setting, although I’m not sure how well the complex and majestic music of TROB lends itself to the live environment. For it to fully work, I guess you’d need five Alexes on stage. It was still pretty damn great, though.

Friday’s Band Of The Night: Slidhr

Night One: After parting with a week’s wages in return for a small meal, I sauntered into the womb of Húrra in downtown Reykjavík on the Thursday evening not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the venue was essentially a large bar with a slightly-elevated stage, which of course meant that the bands would be very close as they played.

The young guys of Draugsól had the daunting task of opening proceedings and they did well, delivering a short, solid set. Mannveira upped the ante and Naðra pushed things up a notch further, knocking out a painfully heavy show. ZHRINE looked a bit stupid because they weren’t wearing corpse paint (instead opting for the nerd look) but they duly cantered through a powerful and inventive Death Metal set.

Misþyrming were quite simply sensational. Considering that it was more or less the same crew that had played just two hours earlier with Naðra, the energy they brought to the stage was frightening and it was no surprise when the first mosh pit of the weekend broke out. Spitting out their tunes with uncanny precision and ridiculous ease, D.G. and co were arguably the band of the weekend.

Mgla were headliners. It had been a long, long day and for a while their presence just passed me by. Then, without warning, I was back in the land of the living and utterly thrilled to be in Iceland to take in the hooded Poles in all their glory at such close quarters. They really got the crowd going and it was an amazing experience.

Thursday’s Band Of The Night: Misþyrming

Night Three: Refreshed by steeping my balls in the Blue Lagoon for a couple of hours, I returned to the venue for the third and last time.  It really was a case of saving the best wine ‘til last as five of the six bands on Saturday night were staggeringly good. I’m not sure what pigeonhole we can fit NYIÞ into but their Black Mass routine at the start of the night was stunning. The audience was entranced and remained respectfully silent throughout as they put on a performance that was out of this world.

Almyrkvi is the brilliant Garðar S. Jónsson’s one-man band. He handled vocal duties live and true to form the show was superb. Rebirth of Nefast had only played live once before – at the inaugural Oration – and his debut full-length is imminent. Cloaked in robes, RoN looked great and sounded even better. A special word of mention has to go to creative force Stephen Lockhart, the man who not alone pulled all the moving parts together to make this festival happen but also the mind behind Rebirth of Nefast. He has assembled a terrific live band … all the songs sounded great, as did his vocals. After seeing this show, ‘Tabernaculum’ is my most-anticipated release at the moment.

Unbelievably, there were still three more bands to go…

Aosoth surprised me. Not sure why I expected them to suck but they were quite brilliant. Outre seemed great (insanely crushing) for a while … until the singing parts kicked in and fucked everything up.

Having cruelly missed out on seeing Svartidauði in Glasgow when they were pulled from Caledonian Darkness II at the eleventh hour, I couldn’t wait to see them churn out a headlining set in their home town. At close to midnight on the Saturday night, they took to the stage and duly laid the place to waste. I was tired and had been subjected to more great Black Metal over three days than anyone deserves, and my concentration wasn’t what it should have been, but still Svartidauði made me so, so happy.

Their musicianship is like nothing else I’ve ever seen and it was with a heavy heart that I watched the second—or-third-or-fourth-hardest-working man in Icelandic Black Metal, Þórir Garðarsson, vacate the stage for the last time. What an end to an incredible weekend!

Saturday’s Band Of The Night: Rebirth of Nefast

(Thanks to Woda i Pustka for the Rebirth of Nefast photo.)

CALEDONIAN DARKNESS PART II (The Classic Grand, Glasgow – October 21/22, 2016)

Monday, October 24th, 2016

pseudogodSo the greatest show on earth was brought to Scotland over the weekend and what an entertaining couple of days it turned out to be! Having Svartidauði and Dead Congregation pulled from the bill at the eleventh hour (almost literally) made for a dramatic but most unsatisfactory denouement (more about that later) but failed to take the gloss off a truly phenomenal experience.

I arrived in Glasgow on Friday seven hours before check-in time at my hotel so got some breakfast and then shit it back out again in a matter of seconds. What a stroke of luck when we were allowed to check in four hours before the allotted time… Alas, the good fortune would not last…

First up on the Friday evening were the hooded men of London, Qrixkuor, who delivered a stunning performance. Great stage presence and incredible tunes. I found myself wondering was the microphone switched on, so low were the vocals, but this mattered little to me either way.

Barshasketh took to the stage next and, even though I’m not a massive fan of their last album, they gave it everything and produced a commendable display. The bass player looked really pleased to be there.

It was my second time to see Slidhr inside six weeks or so and this was one of the bands I was most looking forward to. Backed by his friends from Sinmara, Jo outdid himself with an intense and commanding set – powerful vocals, masterful execution of songs that come into their own in the live environment, and even an unexpected ‘Thank you’ at the end. Immense stuff from a rare talent.

Sinmara themselves weren’t half bad either! These guys look astounding on stage and they had the audience in the palms of their hands with a hypnotic 45-minute set.

Pseudogod was the surprise of the weekend. A band I was completely unfamiliar with prior to the gig, they tore The Classic Grand a new arsehole.

I thought Urfaust were rubbish and left before Vemod came on stage because I was exhausted and my back was sore.

The following day promised to be the best of my life – five extraordinary bands playing back-to back! I couldn’t wait. Decided to give Ifrinn and Devouring Star a miss to conserve energy for the five-band salvo of a lifetime but things were running behind time again so I arrived in time for Devouring Star, who were good.

Then on to the real magic…

Darvaza was nothing short of phenomenal. Stalking the crowd like a man possessed, Wraath is the most demented frontman I’ve witnessed. I was half expecting him to either pull out a gun and open fire, kick somebody in the face or just stab himself on stage. Completely unhinged, he muttered repeatedly to himself off-mic and genuinely disturbed me. I decided not to go backstage and ask for an autograph.

Irkallian Oracle presented both a visual and aural feast and left me feeling like one of the most privileged individuals on the planet just to be there.

Playing in total darkness bar four candles, Sortilegia were also nothing short of magnificent. Three amazing acts in a row and two more to come. Or so I thought…

Svartidauði is the best live band I’ve seen so I couldn’t wait for them. I was standing at the front of the stage, filled with joy and anticipation, when the announcement came that both they and Dead Congregation had been pulled from the festival. Nifelheim would still play. Fuck Nifelheim. Svartidauði should have appeared as they were next in line.

Both bands who were axed from the show were present at the venue and ready to perform. Sturla Viðar from Svartidauði informed me downstairs inside the front door that he had been in Glasgow since Wednesday and was told in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t play. I said I was disgusted and he countered that he was far more annoyed than I was. This is understandable.

It’s such a pity this happened at the end of such a sensational celebration of occult Black and Death Metal. Seems poor ticket sales left the promoter out of pocket and the venue owner opted to pull the plug either because he wasn’t fully paid or because of some pig blood smeared on a white wall backstage or a combination of both of these things.

The exact reasons given since have been rather confusing (and the link between the backstage incident and lack of ticket sales / funds for all unclear – did the latter prompt the former?) but I think it’s safe to say that all of the bands would have played had the festival sold out. I’m amazed that less than 500 people are interested in attending a show with such a wonderful line-up. Say what you want about competition from other festivals and the lack of disposable income people have these days but, for me, this was a line-up that will be hard to top.

Makes me worry about the future of such events. Will we ever see anything like this again? A lot of people lost a lot of money. It’s a shame there isn’t more appreciation for this wonderful music and these wonderful bands and great people.

A sad end to a monumental two-day ritual.

SINMARA – APHOTIC WOMB 2LP (Terratur Possessions)

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Sinmara - Aphotic WombMy first exposure to Sinmara came early in 2012 when they were operating under the Chao handle and delivered the excellent cassette EP, ‘Spiritus Sankti’. In the meantime, the band name may have changed but the stunning nature of their music most certainly has not.

On ‘Aphotic Womb’, the rechristened Icelanders present eight cuts of choice Black Metal (53 minutes), like a mammoth hybrid of Svartidauði and Blut Aus Nord (perhaps?), spread evenly across two records and containing enough magic to keep you coming back for more and more and more.

The records are cased inside a sumptuous gatefold jacket and have for company a glorious 12×12, twelve-page booklet, plus the obligatory poster (hurrah!).

Overflowing with awesomeness.

Evilometer: 666/666