Hello dear reader. I am glad that you made it to this side of the internet. Some might even refer to this as to the very fringe of it. A place of wonder where non-Euclidean calculus is applied to reach the utmost pits, Darwinian evolution is defiled with putrid subterranean mutations and the common morals of society are cast aside and spat upon, while the Lady Justitia, that wretched skank, writhes in the gutter with torn garments, begging for next hit and further debauchery. But I digress. I think I know why you are here. You would like to read about a particular Artist that I have tagged to this post. Well, you're in luck today, since I like to write. I see an immediate, reciprocal relationship manifesting here between the two of us. I will cherish this beautiful moment until the day I hit the big sleep... or at least until when the nerve connections hosting the said memory are reduced to mere cinders. Which is, apparently, just a matter of time. Anyways, I've been pondering upon the prospect of writing a blog on a variety of musings – including music, of course – but for now I will settle with trying out the practicality of the journal feature of this fine, fine website service that I have been using somewhat regularly since November 2007. I will start with the most recent events I have attended, but depending on inspiration I might reminisce all the way down to my first metal festival in 2005 when I witnessed live the mighty Dissection. At the end of the day, I write for myself, but I do wish like-minded people (read: metal nerds) find my rantings enjoyable.
Blackdeath, Ondskapt, Archgoat and Inquisition
at K17, Berlin on Tuesday, January 20th
First concert of the new year was one that I had been waiting for a couple months with growing anticipation, mainly because Inquisition had been one of my favourite "new" or "more modern" (read: active) black metal bands for the past odd-five years. K17 is far from an optimal location for this kind of line-up – instead of an underground metal den, the place is actually more of a rock-oriented night club in the northern Friedrichshain. I hadn't been to a concert at K17 before, but I have fond memories of downing cheap shots of spicy Mexicaner and dancing to DAF and other infamous Härte hits with a Swedish friend some time ago.
By the way, going to a black metal show sober, ordering alcohol-free beer, dreadlocked and not wearing a single black piece of clothing, topped with a khaki Om shirt can give you some odd looks from uninitiated Amon Amarth fans. I might have gained some questionable credibility back by speaking Finnish to Archgoaters and -goatesses, and by finally purchasing my very own Inquisition swag.
Blackdeath had a properly raw and menacing sound. The vocalist, wearing a Laibach-esque headgear and Immortal-tier spikes, produced vocals that reminded of raking nails over a chalkboard. The drummer seemed to be pummeling through the set with the exact same beat over and over – and that's how their songs ended up sounding, too, for the uninitiated. I do have one LP, "Bottomless Armageddon" by them stashed in a safe location in the cold north, so that at least some droning russian black metal will be preserved for the post-apocalyptic generations.
Ondskapt sounded modern Swedish, looked modern Swedish, felt modern Swedish. They had the whole kit; skulls, capes, candles, ash/flour scattered all over. I checked most of their set and went to have a coffee and coke at a nearby Turkish Späti.
Archgoat delivered again exactly what was expected. Relentless, lo-fi, rather droning black metal, very much in the vein of the first Beherit LP. The low end was now more audible than last time, and the smell of blood was less prevalent. The high and low points of bigger stages – apparently you can't have both. I liked the sharply pronounced and no-nonsense stage patter "Vokal. Up." and "Peer. Peer." that echoed of my past life elsewhere. I cannot say that I recognised any pieces from their recordings, but that kind of things are anyways secondary when witnessing an Aural Assault. After the concert I met a 20-odd year-old guy from Helsinki who told me how Archgoat was the band for him. He was following the band to their next concert, too, and told that his first tattoo would be an Archgoat one. I support the devotion.
Inquisition conquered the stage around midnight. I thought beforehand that the wait for the headliner would turn out to be strenuous, but the time passed effortlessly. The sound was clear enough and the duo played a good mix of old and new songs. Even one track from the dark nineties was played as an encore, but I cannot recall which. The stage's lighting work added a trippy effect to the already astral mood of the concert. Seldom do I feel after a show that I could easily have the same again tomorrow – or at least the next week. And this was already the third time I had the privilege to witness them play. Good times.
Chamber and Antlers
at Kastanienkeller, Berlin on Friday, January 30th
Kastanienkeller is a nice crammed cellar underneath a posh pseudo-leftist café in the heart of Prenzlauer Berg. Every time I have visited the place, they've been blasting quality stuff from Melvins to Bathory. The beer is cheap, too.
Chamber was a rather modern-sounding, slightly fuzzy, somewhat atmospheric black metal band. Actually they didn't stick to my backbone that well, but I'd dare to say they were influenced by swedish dsbm. The audience was really not much into it either, and I found the vocalist's learned, stiff stage mannerisms rather out of place. Him taking his shirt off, with the audience still standing around in slightly chilly room with their overcoats on, was a bit cringe-worthy. Cool hardcore tattoos, though. During the concert it occurred to me strongly that "that guy could be me." There was none of the otherworldliness many artists are able to create around themselves, but this might have been also due to the inadequate setting.
Antlers had a good dose of crust in their black metal, without being too punk instead of metal. At times they even had a very first wave sound to their songs. Even if I had no expectations for the evening, this kind of captivating, nicely repetitive, no-nonsense metal is exactly what I want to hear for my few euros spent when I decide to attend an event on Stressfaktor that mentions black metal. I found it a bit amusing that Antlers was once again one of those bands that have various shirt designs available before any records are out. Supposedly an album is coming out during summer. Or maybe I just remember wrong, I might have enjoyed some Friday air. I'll be looking forward to their future endeavours with interest.
Monowelt and Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat
at Urban Spree, Berlin on Friday, February 6th
Urban Spree is a club in southern Friedrichshain. I think most of the time it's more of a dance hall, and this night the parts apart of the concert room were off-limits. Outside, a couple of quirky specialist kind of guys were spilling gasoline recklessly without managing to properly set a fire in a barrel.
Monowelt was a young duo from Berlin, playing rather minimalistic type of post-punk with an emphasis on the electronics. The resulting sound was fuzzy and loud, and the vocals and guitar were too silent in the background. Maybe this was done on purpose, but I would have liked to hear a bit more variation, both in sound and in material.
Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat had a quite lengthy, yet very enjoyable show. I dare to say their brand of psychedelic-tinged neofolk worked a lot better in live setting than on record. There was more air, feel and grit in the compositions. After the show, outside by the aforementioned barrel-fire I got harassed by a Russian girl whom I might or might not have said something inappropriate in my broken ру́сский язы́к. Eventually she tore off my Nasum's "recycled all-seeing eye" pin that had travelled with me in over ten countries. She did return it, but apparently on a whim I decided to give it to a goth maiden who managed to make an impression on me.
Sunshine & Lollipops, Backstab Legends and Dismembers
at Das Edelweiss, Berlin on Friday, February 20th
Just hearing of a concert taking place in the infamous Görlitzer Park raises some curious eyebrows. I've personally had my run-ins with the night (and day) life of the seedier parts of Kreuzberg, and therefore have learned to tread carefully in these parts of the German capital. I stumbled to the location slightly late, and listened to the first couple tracks by Sunshine & Lollipops from outside, quickly downing my regular travel beer. A young hip hop junkie tried to sell me heroin, which I actually found to be rather shocking in all his bluntness. Weed and speed dealers to whom I just give a polite "nein, danke" are a staple in this neighbourhood, but heroin? come on, I am not that desperate to kill the pain. The guy had the cheek to ask for a cigarette, and upon hearing me not having any, he lighted one behind my back. A gent, I tell you.
Sunshine & Lollipops was a self-confessed anarchist black metal duo from the very Hauptstadt. They had a proper raw black metal sound going on with a couple neatly slowed-down pieces that I enjoyed the most. It might have been because of the overflowing sex appeal of the band members, but I think I've never seen this many girls in bright lipstick and retro skirts in a black metal concert. After the show I took another step towards being a cautious adult, when I cracked open a pack of active carbon filters and a bag of Knaster herb mix. While doing this and chatting with the doorman, a fellow immigrant, we heard raging insults and shouting from the park. A moment after, a crazed-out lad charged towards us with a thick piece of a branch, but luckily he was enough in this world to notice that we were not the culprits he was after... soon enough the Polizei arrived to the scene and I headed back indoors for the next band.
Backstab Legends had the floor full of the aforementioned crowd with their brand of nihilistic hardcore punk. Their style is really difficult to pin-point for me, but let's just call it a merit of creativity. I think I spotted some leanings to nineties punk scene and noise rock. Oddly enough, some slower intros to songs reminded me of epic 70's metal bands. The Texan-led wolf pack did not let the audience to take the easy way by spewing forth insults between songs and poking out some tacky and/or well-placed middle fingers.
By the point the Dismembers duo hit the stage and started blasting their barbarian tunes of Venom-esque dis-punk'n'roll, a great deal of people had already left the venue. I think the herbs in liquor and in smokes I had consumed along the evening might have played a part, but their primitive aggression really hooked me in. A proper soundtrack for the apocalyptic hordes.