Date: March 10th, 2018

Location: The Temple, Athens – Hellas


The scapegoat (see Leviticus) has returned (and will eternally return) from the desert and he is a lunatic one! The gathering that was assembled at Temple club –an excellent new addition to Athenian gig venues– to honor him in the appropriate manner, included three seemingly incompatible, yet in depth overly suitable acts. Besides, for all we know, the Devil works in countless forms.

The ode to Azazel was initiated by NECROVOROUS, one of the few contemporary bands which fully understand the term “death” before metal, as well as the term “metal” itself. Solid as always, without fanfare and putting the sepulchral feeling in the foreground instead of cheap tricks (be it pointless technique exhibitions or some unfit pompous stage image), they turned time with prowess about 25-30 years back, taking a peek at “ancient” Swedish sound as well as towards the other side of the Atlantic ocean. With brute force, without fearing to incorporate fine metal guitar solos and leads and as always having as highlight the monumental vocals from Devilpig (we may become repetitive but we’ll keep on stating what this throat offers to the recordings and live performances that he is part of), NECROVOROUS covered a time range that began from the recent (and much persuasive) “Plains Of  Decay” full-length and ended at the outstanding “Crypt Of The Unembalmed Cadavers” 2009 EP, going back and forth, before closing with a cover on “the Usurper”, thus paying their homage to recently departed M.E. Ain.

Next arrival on stage, was the recently reactivated ORDER OF THE EBON HAND, a group that also left their remarkable imprint during the 90s outbreak of hellenic black metal sound. Their stigma bore the name of “The Mystic Path To The Netherworld” whose majestic cloak remarkably dressed the then traditional structures of the domestic sonic movement, as those were defined by NECROMANTIA and co. After they re-emerged some years later with a second full-length, “XV: The Devil” (and taking part in Athens Rockwave Festival’s historic 2005 line-up with CANDLEMASS, ACCEPT and SLAYER), they went again into hiatus before resurfacing in recent years, initially through their split with AKROTHEISM and afterwards making some fine live appearances, the climax of which (up to now at least) would be that Saturday’s act. Using an image equivalent to their majestic nature and with a clear intention for a fully fitting theatricality, they delivered an hour-long (and then some) show, satisfying their own special audience as well as the overall appreciators of the hellenic black scene; with my personal favorite still being the “Behold The Sign Of A new Era” track.

By now, the attention of everyone remaining within Temple was directed towards the main pillar of this event. THY DARKENED SHADE, one of the most distinctive manifestations in today’s blackmetal, were preparing to ignite yet another violent attack, an invocation to the demons of the left hand path. Their multi-layered approach to the devil’s music encloses complex structures, classic metal injections owing much of their inspiration to IRON MAIDEN and MERCYFUL FATE, as well as that otherworldly and repulsive (for the outsiders) character one can find only in epitome recordings such as “De Mysteriis…” or “Storm Of The Light’s Bane”.

The question on whether this mixture could appropriately be reproduced on stage was already answered for the most part (at least for those of us who consciously witnessed their performance as DODHEIMSGARD’s support act around 2 ½ years ago), thus the stakes here revolved around the spiritual adherence, essential in order to tune with what Semjaza’s sect would fable about. “HailSatan’sChildren!” was heard throughout the Temple and immediately everything was blackened as TDS began to unleash one by one their demonic spells. Whether it was about tracks from their first offering in the likes of “The Great Serpent Self” or opuses from their second magnificent creation (“Elixir Of Azazel”, “Revival Through Arcane Skin”), the fact was that an atmosphere reeking of sulphur was emitted throughout the place. I must confess that rarely have I been part of live shows where I can smell a scent of undefined danger floating around me and this 100% the case here, intensified to a superlative level from the entranced look of vocalist, The A, properly brandishing his chains and spikes.

The closure,in the form of the anthem “Daemon Phosphorus”, an ode to the Titan who brought the Light to humans, reminded us all that blackmetal is not and will never be just another metal genre and even more it is and will be nothing if doesn’t spawn within us the fear of the unknown, calling us to transcend it by opposing given norms and eternally seeking the experiences through which we will move one more step towards the gnosis of the microcosm and the macrocosm. As above so below… Hail Satan’s Children!