It was time to head south on this wintery Tuesday evening for what was promising to be an evening of brutal extreme metal courtesy of a four-band bill at The Corporation in Sheffield, and with doors not being until 19.00 I was caught putting two and two together and surmising that the evening would be cramped, timewise, and I was not wrong. No sooner had the doors flung open than the first battering was already being served from the stage, Monastery were plying their trade and delivering it with vicious brutality to the few in attendance.
The stage was well worked with the strings being delivered with ferocity from each wing while the vocals were barked out from the centre as if the troops were being commanded over the top. Each track that passed was an education in delivering detonating Death Metal, and one which seemed to be soaked up by the crowd who were giving their full attention to the craft being generated in front of them. A successful opening for the evening and one which had triggered the momentum for what was to follow, a success story for the opening of this evening of pummelling extreme metal.
Next it was time for some Germanic, with a dash of Dutch, Death Metal in the form of the legendary titans Atrocity. With a mere 30 minutes put aside for them they didn’t waste any time in bombarding us with colossal riffs and igniting beats which all tied in perfectly as a platform for Krull to spit out his vocals with absolute venomous power and exploding authority. Opening with the immense ‘Desecration Of God’, they didn’t let up one moment throughout the whole of their set. The crowd was still fairly sparse at this point, a fact that I was struggling to get my head round, but Krull did his best to generate some action from the floor with encouragement which seemed to pay off as it stirred up some pits towards the back end of the set. ‘Death By Metal’ was inspirational and ‘Necropolis’ was out and out violent and vicious from the opening bars to the closing chords. Finishing off with an absolutely colossal ‘Reich Of Phenomena’ this had been a lesson in Death Metal and one that needs to be welcomed back to our shores ASAP. Vielen Dank.
A brief respite and then we were ready for some more Death Metal, this time with a blackened edge courtesy of Dutch legends God Dethroned, and what better way to announce their arrival than with a monumental and crushing ‘Hating Life’. Sattler was a commanding presence front and centre and manipulated his six stringed fretboard with ease, while snarling out his lyrics with authority and supremacy, each word being spat out with toxic passion and integrity. The pulverising bass lines were delivered with muscle and dexterity courtesy of the imposing figure of Pomper while the drum shift was in safe hands with Schilperoort battering and beating his way through the set with intricacy and dexterity. ‘Boiling Blood’ was absolutely mesmerising and commanded your full attention while ‘Nihilism’ was a true highlight of the set for me, and the epitome of how a Death Metal anthem should be constructed and delivered, sublime, simply sublime. As God Dethroned departed the stage to make way for the Austrian powerhouse it was time to reflect on the quintessential Death Metal we had just been carved open by, and the fact that on any given night this venue could quite simply have been headlined by either of the two giants that had just passed before us, yet we were still to be entertained by tonight’s headliner, we were one lucky ensemble and one that was in presence or greatness in the form of Belphegor.
As the stage was adorned with all manner of paraphernalia, the stage was enveloped with a smoky incense, one that filled the room with an aura and atmosphere which sat alongside some background audio which twinned together to create an ambience and anticipation which was palpable. As the bell tolled and Helmuth et al entered the fray they wasted no time in launching into ‘The Procession’ and it was obvious that the full Belphegor experience was to be laid before us.
Helmuth was the true orchestrator for the clinical and aggressive blackened metal we were ceremoniously being treated to, ‘The Devil’s Son’ was absolutely titanic, immense in its structure and aggressive in the deliverance of it onto the hordes who had assembled to worship in the house of one of hells seven princes. Punishing, pummelling, powerful and mesmeric, all words which can be used to describe the spectacle on show in Sheffield tonight, the vocals from Helmuth were caustic and toxic, enchanting and hypnotic while the string work from all camps, chunky and slender, were works of art with the sophistication, complexity and velocity with which they were deployed. As the set progressed with the likes of ‘Sanctus Diaboli Confidimus’, ‘Lucifer Incestus’ and the title track of the latest Belphegor sacrifice ‘The Devils’, the momentum swelled and the aural martyrs were being deployed with increasing antagonistic hostility and acerbic malevolent noxiousness. As the set closed out with another auditory blackened track off the latest opus, ‘Totentanz – Dance Macabre’, it was clear that the whole evening had been a celebration of the black arts and evidence that Belphegor are true masters of their underworld, prodigies and maestros who clearly emanate a vivid depiction reminiscent of Cerberus eagerly straining at the leash. In summary, dark masters of their craft delivering each faction with supreme perfection and precision, simply faultless.