My first time in Europe, and I am honestly surprised how metal this continent is. I’ve seen my fair share of Death, Venom, and Neurosis shirts since I’ve been here. I’ve also seen a number of shirts I haven’t recognized. Almost makes me feel inadequate (nah, actually makes me excited to explore some of Europe’s best underground stuff).
A good half hour walk from where I’m staying is this really awesome place called The Viper Room. It was down in this dungeon where I got the chance to see Germany’s Nargaroth. With them were Absu from the U.S. and Bolivia’s Hate. There were a few opening bands that I unfortunately missed (it’s a long story involving me getting lost in downtown Vienna and then losing my original printed ticket).
After several embarrassing difficulties that include a brief language barrier (I am not fluent in German), I finally found myself in the lowest level of the Viper Room. On one side of the long room was the bar, while at the very end of this room was where the people crowded around the stage.
I barely caught the end of Hate’s set, so I can’t comment much on them. What I heard sounded pretty awesome.
Absu took to the stage wearing the traditional leather outfits of first generation black metal, classic outfits from the early days of Bathory and Celtic Frost. They maintain much of the classic black metal sound too, that raw mixture of thrash and death that somehow transformed into the first incarnation of black metal amidst its Satanic and Pagan blasphemies.
The band consists of Proscriptor McGovern (drums, vocals), Ezezu (bass, vocals) and Vis Crom (guitars). The current band members are relatively new (excepting McGovern), having been with the band under ten years of its nearly 30 year long run.
McGovern did an excellent job executing some pretty earsplitting screeches (yes, they were so high-pitched they hurt my ears). His drum skills definitely get the job done, but they aren’t the most impressive I’ve seen. But what most impressive was his stage presence. McGovern owned the stage like a first-rate actor on Broadway, you know he was acting but he never dropped character through the entire performance. On top of that, he really was able to play with his space once someone else took over percussive duties so he could screech at the audience from the front of the stage.
Vis Crom looked about as classic black metal as you could get with his long frizzy hair and leather get-up. These guys played the shit I missed back in the early ’90s. I happened to miss them when they came by St. Louis a little over a year ago, so I’m glad I didn’t pass up this second opportunity in one of the most metal cities I’ve been in.
Shrouded in mist, Nargaroth followed blasting their brand of True German Black Metal, which sounds much more familiar to those who follow black metal in its current form.
Nargaroth rose from the ashes of Exhumeniz in 1996. Borrowing from established second wave black metal bands like Darkthrone, Burzum, and Mayhem, Nargaroth’s sound developed around larger and more epic melodies that mimic the harsh beauty of the land surrounding the Northwestern part of Europe.
Ash is the only consistent member of the band, with several live musicians to assist during tours. Vharst (guitars), Beliath (guitars), Lykanthop (drums), and Simon “Bloodhammer” Shilling (drums) are a few of the opt-in, opt-out members that continue to perform in Nargaroth.
All members there during the show took to the stage in corpsepaint of various designs. Ash certainly looked like a black metal god with his long dark hair and beard and black and white painted face. The other members shared similar visages.
The songs performed were all in Nargaroth fashion, with grand sweeping melodies and long durations. The dark and hot tunnel of the Viper opened up to frigid and mountainous regions of Germany for the length of their set.
For fans of black metal with the ambience of the harsh natural world, check out Nargaroth at their website.
For fans of old school black/thrash, check out Absu at their facebook page.
To check out Hate, visit their bandcamp page.