Be careful what you read and find on the internet, it can be complete and utter nonsense. It is funny as I am a writer, avid show goer, full time Metalhead and *gasp* a short female while stating this. Typically when I write a review, I never discuss these factors, but something stirred me the wrong way after reading an article from another female that covers similar shows to the ones I do. The fact is when you go to a Black Metal show you will find artists that do follow Satanism and perform ancient rituals; there will be real blood, dead animal bones, and a few members will torment the fans, etc. on the stage. Obviously, not everyone can stomach it, but this is just how these shows are along with moshing, sharing drinks, and getting spit at with blood, beer and what not from the singer. For me, the only thing I care about is my gear.
With that said, the Conjuring the Dead Tour continued and on August 31 BELPHEGOR, ORIGIN, SHINING, and ABIGAIL WILLIAMS blackened The Gramercy Theatre in New York City. 2016 is an insane year in Metal, where there have been so many shows that I say, “Oh man, this is one of the best.” Well, BELPHEGOR is another addition to that list. I’m a huge fan of horror and darkness, and that was what this evening was all about.
ABIGAIL WILLIAMS set the darkened tone as they performed with barely any lights. It was all about their music as they went into songs such as “Godhead” from their latest effort 2015’s The Accuser. For them, it’s not about the theatrics, movement and crowd interactions and they’d prefer to play in pitch black and being solely about the music.
I was surprised to see the Swedish Extreme Metal act SHINING going on second as they were there celebrating 20 years of existence. It was a few days before this particular show when some nutjob with no life trolled the internet saying the show was canceled due to the death of frontman Niklas Kvarforth. Between the anti-SHINING article to the pathetic troll, what the hell is going on with people being against this act? Well, the show and tour were obviously not canceled, and SHINING were beyond incredible.
They continued with their doom themes, progressive undertones and killer guitar solos that included some teeth action. Niklas dominated that stage and gave us a shocking amount of controversial actions, and all I wanted to do was ask for more.
The best part was when he flicked all of us photographers off, grabbed my lens and spit out beer to the crowd. It was glorious and not only that, after their set he was there taking photos with fans and despite what anyone claims, he was charming and playful to all. I would love to see SHINING again; there is something unique about them. Life sucks, and we all have our own suicidal tendencies as they depict such cut-throat truth emotion live on the stage.
There was, unfortunately, no blood this night, as Niklas’ arm appeared to be bandaged from a previous evening. Yes, it is true he cuts himself and has thousands of scars all over him; you can see them in the photos. However, SHINING does not promote and persuade those to do these acts to oneself, and that is something people should know.
The night moved from controversial horror to Technical Death Metal with ORIGIN. Frontman Jason Keyser stole the set as his bombastic energy looked quite invincible. Things moved back to a standard metal set that remained fun, wild, and crazy. Their vicious performance was enjoyably lengthy, and it brought many circle pits and much crowd surfing. I think I remember seeing at least one person flying to the front throughout the entire set.
With three distinct acts, it was time for the Austrian Blackened Death Metal band BELPHEGOR to grace us with a sinister funeral. When I saw the band preparing to go on, I noticed dead animal bones, skulls, and a familiar death-like scent. At that point alone, I was convinced that this would probably be one of my personal favorite shows.
It was difficult to contain myself from the excitement, and looking back at the crowd they clearly felt the same way. The way the band approached the stage before moving into “In Blood-Devour This Sanctity,” was like an introduction to a horror film. They took a deathlike approach onto the platform, and the suspense continued to intensify. Each member knew where to perform, move their head and to stay away from the light as they looked like demons in the night playing with endless brutality. Songs continued to fly with “Gasmask Terror,” “Belphegor – Hell’s Ambassador” and “Rex Tremendae Majestatis.” As the set continued, I noticed a priest-like figure, dressed in a dark robe as he appeared to spread un-holiness all over the venue. Disturbances continued with songs “Lucifer Incestus,” “Pest and Terror,” “Conjuring the Dead,” and “Pactum in Aeternum.”
Seeing BELPHEGOR is a portal view of what the Gates of Hell would look like. Faces appeared to have blood painted all over them, as they moved together with countless amounts of shredding and grunts. Those grunts, they looked as though a summoning for Satan himself was happening. However, it was just moving into the next song “Bondage Goat Zombie” followed by “Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration.” As BELPHEGOR alluded the death of their performance, they came back on for an encore tune with “Bleeding Salvation.”
I loved the Black Metal crowd that night, as people were dressed in a variety of ways. A few looked like they came from a band themselves with Zombie-like eyes as others were prepared for pure hell.
I do hope BELPHEGOR returns soon; I don’t think anyone should ever get tired of seeing them perform as Hell Awaits.
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: ZENAE D. ZUKOWSKI