Primordial / Winterfylleth / Portrait / Malthusian

O2 Academy Islington, London on Sat 7th Feb 2015

This Saturday sees the return of Irish folk metallers Primordial. Falling on a Saturday, tonight's concert is scheduled to finish early for the club night at the venue afterwards. With four bands to squash on to the bill, the doors are thrust open at 5pm although half an hour later, there remains a queue outside the venue as attendees are slowly granted admission.

First up are blackened death metal horde Malthusian, an Irish storm currently whipping the depths of the extreme metal underground into frenzied excitement. Opening with 'Wraith//Plague Spore', the four-piece spew forth their interpretation on the predilection for Incantation's beastly classic death metal that has a strangle hold on contemporary extreme metal, nightmarish with the suffocating edge of sludge and doom metal, blastbeats in ample supply and Immolation-esque angular guitar riffs beneath black and death metal. Some moments of the fog are punctuated with progressive tendencies, retaining a foreboding atmosphere that births an alternative dimension to the music. Aligning their twisted metal with an austere stage presence, Malthusian play all songs from their sole release, their demo 'MMXIII'. Undeservingly for the band, the audience essentially remains static with the exception of three revellers independently setting of a mosh pit that frightens surrounding spectators further afield. Nonetheless, Malthusian should feel proud to consider themselves part of a palpitation in metal that quakes the safe and clean with intriguing results.

Sweden is known for leading the nostalgic charge with neo-heavy metal bands such as Enforcer, In Solitude and Steelwing, and fellow countrymen in Portrait are no different. Initiallyscheduled to play their own headlining concert at the Black Heart tonight, this heavy metal throwback found their show being merged with Primordial's – a merciful choice considering Saxon and Hell are also in the capital tonight and would have undisputedly had a negating effect on their attendance figures. Formed in 2004 and with three full-length albums under their intensely studded belts, their take on heavy metal particularlyechoes that of Merciful Fate and King Diamond (with lyrical themes concentrating on Satanism) with a dash of early Fates Warning contributing for good measure.

Although new musical territory is not explored in Portrait's sound, the Swedes do create a theatrical performance that can permit itself to be labelled as enjoyable as they serve prime cuts from last year's 'Under Command'. Soaring dual guitar leads are twinned with dark rhythm guitar andthe Bruce Dickinson-like vocals of The Curator. This marks their second attack on the capital, following their debut appearance on these isles back in October at the Live Evil festival and the audience appear to find Portrait entertaining, rewarding them with hearty applauses after the conclusion of each song.

At the forefront of the English heritage black metal chapter are Winterfylleth from Manchester. Dealing with Anglo-Saxon history, they tie in sumptuously with the headliners although retaining a differing sound. Bravely opening with the less familiar 'Abbot Bromley Horn Dance', their contribution to the 'One and All, Together, For Home' compilation last year, these Englishmen proceed to showcase what is essentially their patriotic interpretation of the Cascadian black metal sound (Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch and Skaagos to name a few). Through tremolo picking, atmospheric passages and taped keyboards, black metal hymns frequently clocking in surplus of the six minute mark are weaved.

Their contribution to this currently well-mined subgenre of black metal becomes somewhat underwhelming with its repetitive song structures that only tire as opposed to build atmosphere. No new concepts are incorporated into the music and the riffs are not particularly distinct. Devoid of a stage presence, Winterfylleth morph into an endurance test as they pump out songs from throughout their career, including 'The Ghost of Heritage', 'A Careworn Heart' and 'The Swart Raven'. Finally, 'Defending the Realm' acts as a curtain call and the band vacates the stage to an encouraging collection of applause.

After their intro tape 'Dark Horse on the Wind' (their input to the aforementioned 'One and All, Together, For Home'compilation) plays out, the Irish Primordiallaunch into the rabble-rousing title track of their newest studio effort 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen' instantly connecting with the audience, many of whom know each word. As is commonplace at their live encounters, the headliners are on top form and frontman Alan Nemtheanga maintains that all eyes constantly follow him as he gives an impassioned performance vocally and visually, demonstrating that the Irish history he sings about is close to his heart. The sound of the opener is thick and muddy although is rapidly rectified for the remainder of the set.

The doom metal-stricken 'Babel's Tower', the intriguing 'The Alchemist's Head' and the rhythmically concerned 'Ghosts of the Charnel House' from 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen' strike a positive chord with the crowd and represent Primordial's latest effort fairly. The atmosphere of this full-lengh is more stripped down than previous efforts and infused with a defining doom metal mood with the folk elements turned down in favour of sinister rock riffs. Those craving for the older material are treated to 'Autumn's Ablaze', 'Gods to the Godless' and 'As Rome Burns', complete with a sizeable portion of the audience loyally raising their voices and singing along in addition to the mosh pit maelstroms. The mood at any Primordial concert is incredibly festive given the dedication and dynamism of their fanbase.

After the beautiful and mournful 'The Coffin Ships', the Irish quintet leave the stage but the punters remains for their return. Surely enough, they do return with a two-track encore; 'Wield Lightning to Split the Sun' and usual ending theme 'Empire Falls', where the venue comes alive as everyone sings, headbangs or moshes in an outbreak of triumph. Once again, Primordial have imprinted London with an outstanding performance that few bands could hope to mimic. Those in attendance undisputedly enjoyed the show overwhelmingly so and hopefully, this Irish collective will return to the capital sooner than another three years.

article by: Elena Francis

published: 11/02/2015 17:17


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.

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