Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Urgehal, Spearhead, Eyes Of Noctum Concert Review

Urgehal, Spearhead, Eyes Of Noctum, Maledicere
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Big V’s, St. Paul, MN

For some reason, underground black metal bands from Europe have making rare appearances in the Twin Cities. Horna (Finland), Archgoat (Finland), and Frostmoon Eclipse (Italy) have all included us as part of short U.S. tours recently. This night it was Urgehal from Norway stepping into the hell hole of Big V’s as part of a virgin two-week run through the States. Having emerged from the nascent Norwegian black metal scene of the early nineties, Urgehal still plays a brutal, buzzsaw-style of raw black metal that more successful peers abandoned long ago. Forget progressive, symphonic, and technical experimentations. Urgehal proudly carries the flag for pure hatred.

Local duo Maledicere was wrapping up their set by the time I arrived, and they already had the stale air filled with the gruesome sights and smells of skinned animal heads and incense. Los Angeles’ Eyes Of Noctum seemed to take forever in setting up their gear, and their six members barely fit on the cramped, corner stage. Being led by Arcane (Weston Cage), son of actor Nicholas Cage, it could be easy to dismiss Eyes Of Noctum as a novelty act. Their 30 minute set of death/black metal certain had the crowd convinced that they are the real deal. Not having heard Eyes Of Noctum beforehand, I was certainly impressed by their professional stage presence and solid songs. Eyes Of Noctum certainly has a future ahead of them, and their self-released Inceptum album is a worthy purchase. Spearhead, hailing from England, stormed the stage next. The band plays straight-ahead death metal, but the constant barrage of snare drums and machine-like riffs left my mind numb and disinterested after a couple songs.

Urgehal was greeted with enthusiastic cheers as they took the stage armed for battle in corpsepaint, bullet-studded gear, and inverted crucifix necklaces. Their most recent album, Goatcraft Torment, has the band sounding better than ever with a clear production to match the step-up in songwriting and musicianship. The band wasted no time between songs and blitzed through a 45 minute set with blinding fury. Most of the set came from the two most recent albums, Goatcraft Torment (“Risus Sardonis”, “Antireligiøs”, “Goatcraft Torment”, “Dødsmarsj Til Helvete”) and Through Thick Fog Till Death (“Raise The Symbols Of Satan”, “Mirror Satan”, “Satanic Deathlust”). The set was rounded out by one song from each of their other albums, including “Stesolid Self-Destruction To Damnation” from the upcoming Ikonoklast record. The show was powerful demonstration of the capabilities of the band and left me wanting more. With Ikonoklast set to be released on Season of Mist later this year, Urgehal seems to be on the way towards raising their international profile.

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