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Oathbreaker, Steak Number Eight, Vvovnds, Soulgrip @ The Underworld Camden, London (UK)

OATHBREAKER / Steak Number Eight / Vvovnds / Soulgrip
in Saturday, 14 May 2016 at The Underworld Camden
by Anton Sanatov

There are places deep within us that can only be scratched by the metallic resonance of certain sounds. It in to those esoteric spots, deep in the sanctums beyond the viscera, where the lakes of passion slowly simmer, waiting to be brought to a boiling point by that savage reverberation that shall turn those waters into vicious seas. And on that Saturday night, in the catacombs of The Underworld in Camden, I was amidst those brutal waves, inside a manic maelstrom of pure intensity conjured by Nightshift Productions, who brought together four Belgian Hardcore bands that dug into the unknown depths of their metal souls to reach those beneath the stage.

SOULGRIP were up first to break the skin. The Black Metal/Hardcore/Sludge quartet from Ghent, Belgium were far from hesitant in their approach - despite the lack of spectatorship. Although the majority of the band’s set relied on an extreme decibel count and rough instrumentation, there were quite a few of surprising melodic streaks to their performance, during which you could really note the band's commitment to their music; this was especially evident by bassist's J.D.R.'s facial expressions which contorted into any thing from anguish, to lust, to just pure menacing exultation.

Up next came VVOVNDS, a Negative Hardcore collective featuring ex-members of AMENRA. VVOVNDS delivered a set that was simply dripping with raw attitude and feral severity - the majority of which was sprayed into the closest vicinity along with the saliva of vocalist Jenci, whose performance had to have one of the most intense and fiendishly charismatic since the likes of Johnny Rotten. The audience could not help but start making their way to the stage as the band tore into the club with an outing that was pure, unadulterated punk - and one that quite certainly has earned them some new fans.

By eight o'clock the pit was beginning to fill, and after acquiring a coveted STEAK NUMBER EIGHT t-shirt, I too watched the Belgian Post-Metal/Sludge juggernaut take to the stage – with the vocalist/guitarist Brent Vanneste burning some incense to set the mood. I first became a fan back in 2013 when I heard snippets of their then upcoming release “The Hutch”, and I have to say that this band is simply a revelation.
Their blend of fragile melody with heavy, ravenous slams of pure Sludge was a enchanting process of intermittent annihilation and revival of something beautiful; following periods of intense head-banging the audience had a chance to bathe in the pain as the band slipped into entrancing interludes of calm recollections. Brent Vanneste delivered an unsparing, sweat-soaked, awe-inspiring performance; baring what seemed to be a ravaged soul whilst never seeming to miss a note - even after losing control of the mic-stand on a couple of occasions and eventually resorting to stuffing the microphone into his mouth so as not to interfere with his guitar duties. An incredible performance by a truly unique band.

Following the latter group was not an easy feat - and only a band like OATHBREAKER could do it with such poise and invocation of reverence. After the band had set up and the floor had been packed tight with eager Black Metal worshippers, Caro Tanghe took to the stage like a dark, Goddess of Hades commanding the attention of her flock. Her unique vocals were a definite highlight, although for the majority of their performance they were far too low in the mix.

Yet when they screeched from beneath her hive of black hair, perforating the almost silent instances of "The Abyss Looks Into Me", it was evident that they were scraped from the bottom of the darkest of regions. Her enigmatic presence had the crowd was spellbound, captivated, and I even felt a particular chilling, revelatory sensation upon capturing an image of her face in the sole brief moment when it appeared from beneath the mystical veil of her endless locks; I was simply conflicted as to whether I was in the position to discover something so preciously rare. And even though their set was brief, OATHBREAKER delivered a riveting performance, and their sounds, in all their arcane glory, flowed throughout the night long after all the wild waters have filled their wells.


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