"Blasphemy's absolute disregard for the faith spurred the wretched on."
When it comes to black metal and Hobart, there's something the two have common; the frostbitten cold. One of the most eagerly awaited shows of the Dark Mofo festival, Hymns To The Dead brought the frozen heart of black metal to the southernmost city.
If the raw intensity of black metal is loud, the silence as Spire took the stage was deafening. Hailing from the grim wasteland of Brisbane, the cloaked five-piece set the momentum for the evening — never-ending guitars and pounding drums that beat deep into the freezing chests of those in attendance. Awash in shades of blue and black, the opening set had many nodding in grim approval.
Melding ambient post-rock and black metal into a monstrous wall of sound, Canadians Numenorean brought pure, technical bliss to the Odeon Theatre. With the majority of their opuses cracking the ten-minute mark, the immense noise twisted and wormed its way into the ears and minds of the now packed room. Post black metal epics from their apocalyptic five-track album Home snaked their way among crowd members like something out of the final scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
If smoke inhalation didn't kill you first then the suspense surely would, as the opening hymn from the church of Batushka was drawn out for what seemed like forever. The clock ticked by as one by one, hooded figures emerged to light the many candles placed along the stage. Delivering their entire 'liturgy' to the devoted masses, the eight-strong choir led the heathen mass into cruel delight, bathed in red light, the air thick with the scent of incense. A human skull sat perched alongside the hooded frontman as the crowd worshipped at the altar of Batushka, entranced to the noise and the chants.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
If Batushka were the light, then Portal are the seven circles of hell. Unrelenting noise, inhuman growls and a driving drum section that knocks you down, never letting up. Their tentacled frontman, The Curator, adorned with the head of a many-faced clock, spewed forth a sermon of mind-melting destruction. Whether an early cut or something straight from their recent release ION, there is no denying Portal peddle a noise-mongering brand of death metal that instils fear in the listener.
Blasphemy are a band that needn't rely on theatrics, their power comes from the raw emotion and noise they distil among themselves.
Clad in leather, metal, spikes and chains, they churn out a sound that's definitively rough and utterly native to the frozen forests of the true north. War Command, Nocturnal Slayer and the self-titled Blasphemy tore through the Odeon Theatre like a chill wind.
Despite the rest of the line-up exhibiting some form of religion-based direction, Blasphemy's absolute disregard for the faith spurred the wretched on, the crowd forming a circle pit for the Canadian's encore.
As far as metal gigs go, I've never seen a crowd so eager and so full from the get-go as Hymns To The Dead's. May they Rest In Peace. Amen.