Marduk Couldn't Make It, But Rotting Christ, Carach Angren and Necronomicon Put On Quite The Show
For many people, the legendary black metal bands of the early 1990s are like characters from a horror movie or your favorite dark fantasy book. So when a bill like Marduk and Rotting Christ comes through, you’d better take advantage of this opportunity. And with bands Carach Angren and Necronomicon in tow, there’s the added opportunity to check out some lesser-known acts and discover new favorites. Unfortunately for this show, Marduk was held up in Sweden due to visa processing delays with the US government (your tax dollars at work). But instead of canceling the show outright, the bands did the right thing and forged onward.
I’ve been to several metal shows at Gramercy Theater, a relatively small venue that only packs about 500 people. With the stage elevated up front and seats set up in the back, it gives the attendee the illusion of being at a mini-version of Hammerstein Ballroom or something similar. But as the space is much more limited, it gives it the intimacy of a club gig (or even a very large VFW). The best of both worlds I’d say. The crowd was made up of your usual assortment of metalheads, though I was very pleased to see the amount of younger fans there. It’s always encouraging to see young, goofy/awkward teenagers go unironically ballistic over the music. The mosh pit had a healthy energy to it, and I think I only counted one or two actual fights occur. Not sure whose idea it was to bring the big smiley-face balloons, but whatever works. A great time had by (basically) all!
Necronomicon opened the show with a thoroughly impressive display of symphonic death metal (albeit with a black metal aesthetic). My friend and I were debating how they managed to snag the band name, as you’d expect that one to go rather quickly in the metal world. But then they announced that they’d been around for 28 years, “well, there’s our answer.” The best way to describe them would be a symphonic version of Winds of Creation-era Decapitated, with perhaps some Vital Remains mixed in. Lots of cool grooves and hair spinning moments!
Carach Angren plays symphonic black metal in the familiar mid-90s style. Though they have a campy, theatrical style of their own, I couldn’t help but think of Midian-era Cradle of Filth or Death Cult Armageddon-era Dimmu Borgir (and by extension, Mercyful Fate). It’s a style that tends to work much better live than on record. I can’t really see myself enjoying the band’s music while sitting still. But live it makes for ripping good time, especially watching the keyboardist perform all the orchestral sounds live.
Along with their Scandinavian brethren, the Greek black metal scene is one of the most important in the genre’s storied history. Rotting Christ is the most prominent and influential of these acts. How did they play?
They played “The Sign of Evil Existence.” The end.
Ok, but really, the band put on an incredible live performance. In contrast to the two openers, who mostly relied on blast-beats and a few other tempos, Rotting Christ’s music is rich with varying moods and techniques. And though they still give you a menacing feeling, it’s different from the spooky woods and blood sacrifices typical of Northern European bands. Through war chants, the use of non-metal instruments and sounds, and the effective use of guitar solos, Rotting Christ paints a picture all their own. And since the main headliner had cancelled, we were treated to what I assume was a longer-than-usual set. Though I still hope to see Marduk one day, cheers to the other three bands for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.