2016 ushers in the third annual edition of Incineration Festival, London's premier multi-stage extreme metal event. This year sees the festival make a new home at Tuffnell Park's Dome and Boston Music Room venues to showcase a plethora of differing black and death metal from abroad and the UK over two days, growing from previous years' single day forays. With bands trekking to the capital for exclusive UK shows, their first UK performance in a number of years or even ever, this festival is one spectacle that offers something for any extreme metal fan's hunger.
On the Dome's roomier stage are Greece's Lucifer's Child, formed in 2013 and expulsing their debut full-length last year with this being their debut appearance in London. With members from Rotting Christ and Nightfall, the band serves up black metal with '70s progressive elements. Sinister and in some flavours psychedelic, this four-piece are one to keep an eyeball on in the future.
Next on the Dome's stage is England's own Hecate Enthroned with their melodic incarnation of black metal. A sizeable crowd has gathered to cast their eyes at the stage and the band provides a solid set with new vocalist Joe Stamps filling the role seamlessly.
Perhaps the rarest draw for many tonight is death metal duo Mithras, their first show in six years and first in the capital since 2008. The 2008 gig was the last with frontman Rayner Cross before he departed and history repeats as tonight will be his final before he leaves for the second time. Their style of death metal is unique, most notable for their sweeping, atmospheric and astral guitar leads. Besides this, the drums of new live drummer Julien Helwin (his first show) get unbelievably fast – even for death metal. Hammering through tracks such as 'Under the Three Spheres', 'To Where the Sun Never Leaves' and 'Worlds Beyond the Veil', Mithras pummel the audience with their brutal yet precise efforts, summoning a barrage of bodies to collide into each other in a mosh pit. Concluding with 'Thrown Upon the Waves', the trio vacates the stage to leave one of the best sets of Incineration behind. Hopefully, they will find a new frontman and play more frequently.
The mood shifts to those who favour something darker as Norwegian black metallers Tsjuder commence their set. This is their second time in London since their reunion in 2010 and the venue is busy with black metal devotees. Their scathing noise is traditional and archetypically Scandinavian, storming through the Dome, while packing a punch that commands the congregation to headbang. Bedecked in the obligatory corpsepaint and spikes, the trio engineers a formidable façade on stage as they thunder through the likes of 'Helvete', 'Ghoul' and 'Mouth of Madness'. The highlight of the set arises with the closer, a particularly dirty cover of the old Bathory classic 'Sacrifice' from their beloved 'Desert Northern Hell' release that instantly raises heartbeats and is an appreciated salute to the godfather of black metal Quorthon.
Headliners, Dark Funeral are another rare sighting in London, having last darkened the city in 2010 and given the Swedes' popularity, this is a crowd-pleasing choice for the promotors of Incineration festival. Armed with corpsepaint, spikes, leather armour and a banner at either side of the stage, this army of four demands that all attention is directed at themselves. An act that evades adopting any new paths, Dark Funeral's efforts are straight-forward blastbeat-laden black metal that Sweden is known for. This is vocalist Heljarmadr's first time in London with the band and emulates favoured growler Emperor Magnus Caligula sufficiently. Soon-to-be-released album 'Where Shadows Forever Rain' gets weighted exposure and although fans are not yet intimate with this release, they sink their teeth into the likes of the title track and 'Nail Them to the Cross'. Older numbers 'The Secrets of the Black Hearts', 'An Apprentice of Satan' and 'The Arrival of Satan's Empire' beef up the set but as the songs follow the same formula, attentions begin to wane before the show reaches its conclusion. Nonetheless, the Swedes have certainly made an impression on the London audience as they wrap up the first day of Incineration Festival.
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