Melechesh + Keep Of Kalessin + Tribulation + Embryo + Cvinger @ Little Devil, Tilburg, 5th May 2015
Little Devil has a huge touring bus right on its doorstep. The bus looks bigger than the actual venue, which is a bit funny. Today a cool line-up of five bands from all over Europe is playing in the small venue in the middle of Tilburg (NL). Most of the visitors are hanging out outside, enjoying the spring sun with a nice beer. That’s also a reason to visit the Little Devil of course.
The first band is already on. Cvinger hails from Slovenia and is named after the cemetery where suicide victims were buried. The band has filled up the small stage with gear and themselves, all dressed up with faces smeared in paint. The music does not seem to deliver the atmosphere which they get across on their album and, I suppose, in their aesthetics on stage. It’s the bludgeoning rhythms and harrowing vocals that stand out mostly in their pitch black sound. It does feel a bit bothersome that vocalist Lucerus keeps staring down during the set, but his flanking axe-wielders make up for that in an energetic performance. Shame for these guys that they have to open for a small crowd, but they don’t fail to impress.
Italian band Embryo are in a way the odd one out today. Their sound has the feeling of metalcore, with a lot of that pummeling experience, but that´s not what they are. They play as if the place is packed and are not letting go of the energy they are creating. Between the songs, singer Roberto Pasolini keeps barking his thanks. The brutal sound of these guys is going down smoothly thanks to its catchy hooks and slick breaks. Keyboards add a little layer of atmosphere, but that´s hardly audible in the small venue’s back room. A set with energy packed songs and an exciting sound pass by way too fast and these guys deserve respect for keeping that energy levels high.
For Tribulation the place fills up properly. The Swedes have an attraction that is evident. Listening to them and watching their sleazy, passionate performance is weird. The music has the typical bleak feel of black metal, but there’s a sleazy undertone in it, embodied by guitar players Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén. Their androgynous stage attire and look are highly confusing with this type of music and fascinating as well, but it totally works for this band. The band recently released an album titled The Children of the Night, which appears to be very promising based on the amazing sound that is produced by the group. It’s as if they’ve found a way to blend that black/death sound with some glam elements to create an accessible and even rocking vibe. This gang puts up a performance that embraces the best of intensity as well as a magical atmosphere of another world. These guys alone are well worth your money to go and see, due to their amazing stage presence and pretty good tunes.
Keep Of Kalessin is one of those bands that got me into the heavier stuff, thanks to their album Kolossus from way back in 2008. A lot of things have changed for what used to be an award winning black metal band. And there was also the Eurovision thing… Anyways, the band is reduced to a three piece that plays music more akin to melodic death metal with a hint of the blackened past. The performance is definitely intense, even though there appear to be some technical issues at some point. The wild, soaring guitars and frantic drums, which create a full atmospheric sound on record, are only reproduced to some extent in a live setting that is not in their favour, simply because Little Devil is a small venue and doesn’t pack the big stage sound. So the hard work on stage doesn’t really pay off, which results in the band sounding very middle of the road and not as the impressive act I’ve witnessed in the past. I guess not everything gets better with dragons…
I’m truly excited to be able to see Melechesh play live. Back in 2010 I did an interview with singer Ashmedi about their band and the idea of putting Assyrian myth and magic into song. This concept alone seems just made for a black metal sound (as if the old Assyrians were anticipating exactly that). It took the band 5 years to spew out their latest album, titled Enki. The band blasts off with ‘The Pendulum Speaks’, from the new release. Dressed like the assassins of old, with black turbans and veiled faces.
The sound is intense and deeply drenched in its eastern origins. The demonic bark of Ashmedi adds another element to that mystic and grim atmosphere. The technical elements of the music make the musicians look like a congregation of ritualists focused on their commitment to the songs, playing strange riff after riff in an oeuvre spanning set. Songs like ‘Genies, Sorcerers and Mesopotamian Nights’ are well received, but so are new tunes like ‘Multiple Truths’. The audience willingly chants along on ‘Grand Gatahs of Baal Sin’.
During the set the stern look on the vocalist’s face eventually melts away, when realising how well received the music of Melechesh is. This realisation brings a lot more swagger and expression to the set, when he stands on the edge of the stage laying down riffs on the guitar to fist pumping onlookers. The set winds to an end with the creeping sound of ‘Ghouls of Nineveh’ and the grandeur of ‘Rebirth of the Nemesis’. The crowd wants more, but it seems the band is not only out of time but also out of breath. Thus ends a great show in the Little Devil.
Yeah, you should have been there.
The utterly splendid photos are by Paul Verhagen!