ACOLYTES OF THE MIGHTY BAL-SAGOTH were left in shock as vocalist Byron Roberts failed to take to the stage at performances in London and Liverpool last week. Following the band’s arrival at The Purple Turtle in  London, Roberts allegedly left the venue at 4:30 PM with his personal belongings and the words: ‘I’ll be right back’. He was also carrying a sword, leading some to speculate that he’d been arrested or waylaid. A statement posted yesterday revealed the singer had disappeared on account of a very sore throat.


He said: “My apologies to all the Bal-Sagoth fans who attended the show at the Purple Turtle in London last night. I was not able to perform vocals at this show due to illness. Specifically, a persistent throat infection which has refused to clear up. Over the last few weeks, I’d tried to rest my voice in the hopes that I’d be fully fit for the shows, but to no avail. Rather than aggravate the condition and turn in a sub-par vocal performance, I had no choice but to sit this one out. He added he would not be performing at the band’s second show at The Masque in Liverpool, but encouraged fans to show support for the band in any case.


No explanation was given for Byron’s absence as a throng of guest vocalists appeared onstage in London, including Ethereal frontman Diesektor, and Rayner Coss of Mithras. Keyboardist and founding member Jonny Maudling spoke to ZT after the show. He said: “To all the fans who showed up tonight to see Bal-Sagoth, myself and the band sincerely apologise for the absence of Byron. I thought the show was really cool and we never let the fans know. It would have been criminal for us not to have gone up there and played. We did the best we could in very trying circumstances.”


Present for the duration, ZT news correspondent Miika Virtanen witnessed the following: “Standing in the narrow corridors backstage at the Purple Turtle, Bal-Sagoth are in full makeup. The band look stressed as their vocalist Byron Roberts is still nowhere to be found and the crowd are restless – demands for battle magic can be heard right out to the street. Soon, the truth becomes clear – the band must replace Byron with a guest-vocalist. Help arrives in the form of  Diesektor of Ethereal (and formerly of Detrimentum). What follows is truly a clash of egos…Rayner Coss of Mithras takes the stage, bringing much needed energy. He’s blocked by Diesektor who might just have ruined a great thing from happening. Soon after, Coss retires, possibly frustrated by the fact that his microphone was barely on at all. Despite the vocal performance being completely off most of the time, the crowd don’t seem to mind, they’re here for the thumbing rhythms and the anthemic tunes of Bal-Sagoth. A good share of them however, decide to leave the hall in anger.”


One fan, who travelled all the way from Birmingham said: “I thought it was a complete, utter shamble. The people who came over from Europe have been robbed. This was not a Bal-Sagoth show: It was a karaoke of sorts.” Another fan from Hinckley, Warwickshire said: “After seeing Chris Maudling look at Jonny during ‘Atlantis Ascendant’, I felt it was time to leave. I didn’t know who the vocalists were…it was an insult really. ” To whoever was shouting ‘Fuck Byron’, I want to knock his teeth out!”


Bal Sagoth formed in 1989, fusing thelr own strain of bathory-black metal with pulp-fantasy and a bombastic comic-book image. Certainly one of the most quirky bands to come from Britain, they enjoy a sizeable following of cult fans and embark on occasional tours. Their last (and allegedly ‘final’) album, ‘The Cthonic Chronicles’ was released via Nuclear Blast in 2006.

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