Dark Fortress, Saturnian and Guests | The Bull and Gate, Kentish Town | 17th Nov 2012

I’ll admit to a cardinal sin.  I spent the best part of a week telling everybody that Dark Funeral were playing the Bull and Gate in London.  Don’t judge me, everybody misreads black metal logos from time to time.  In fact, it was Dark Fortress who were playing, and I’m more than okay with that.  As were the hundred or so others who diligently queued for this five band black metal marathon.  It was a night for the history books.

Pyhrexia had the honour of kicking the night off and were followed by Trifixion, who warmed the stage with the skill of seasoned veterans.

Up next came Ethereal, and the Scousers blasted through a near blood curdling set, leaving the audience craving more.  Blast beats and grating riffs abound, fuelled by the misanthropic aggression needed to be a great black metal act.  Drawing on their less than extensive back catalogue of two EPs, ‘Hell’s Divine Existence’ and ‘Revelation Beast’, the band clearly has a long way to go until headliner status, but if the tracks are anything to go by, they should have high hopes for the future.

Formerly known as Traces, the UK symphonic black metallers Saturnian have made quite the name for themselves over the last few years, and this rise to power is for a simple reason. They bring exactly what the audience wants: bone crushing, neck breaking, sardonic black metal; the band blends synths, orchestral sections and guttural death metal flavour, creating a sound that fundamentally is not Dimmu Borgir.  Powering through selections of ‘Dimensions’, including ‘Into Etherea’, they give no second of respite throughout their set; everything is a display that they are at the top of their game and have no intention of letting up.  I’ll be honest though, frontman Phil Wilson’s bi-minutely cries of “Who’s here to see Dark Fortress?  Not me!” pissed me off.  It was funny once, almost.

Dark Fortress need no accolade; the melodic, doomy black metal warriors from Germany bring it all.  They’ve been around since ’94, and it doesn’t matter where they play; put them on an arena stage or in the back room of a pub and they’ll put on an amazing show, up there with the behemoths of the genre (terrible pun intended.)  Diving straight into unholy renditions of the melancholy ‘Ghastly Indoctrination’ and ferocious ‘Self Mutilation’, vocalist Morean wins over the crowd and incites a vicious, albeit small, moshpit. The crowd was hit with a wave of ruthless, crushing brutality with ‘Cohorror’, powered by guitarist and band mastermind V. Santura’s (ex-Triptykon) fast paced riffing.  Dark Fortress understand the theatricality of the genre and everything about their show embodies it.  To say they’re good live is an understatement, throw a bunch more money behind them and they’d be doing shows of proper festival headline proportion.  Even after an hour, the show ended far too soon with the occult hymn to the dark Lord, ‘Baphomet.’  One last ritual to make sure nobody forgets.  See this band live, they’re game changers.

Photo credit: Ashley Naismith

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