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From Satan To Sumeria: Belphegor And Melechesh In London

Black metal is a genre which has been debated and argued over perhaps more than other sub-genre. What is black metal? Should it be changed and expanded upon? Is it OK for black metal bands to achieve commercial success? Whatever the answers to those may be, it's a fascinating area of discussion and a style of metal in a world of its own. Last week at The Dome in Tufnell Park, London, I witnessed three bands all rooted in black metal, but with three different ideas on how to go about it.

Unfortunately, I hadn't realised that German death metal outfit Commander were performing tonight, so I missed out on them, though I did arrive in time to see Utrecht, Netherlands based blackened thrashers, Bleeding Gods. Having only released their sophomore, "Dodekathlon" a few months ago through Nuclear Blast, the band were fired up and ready to promote it, along with their debut, "Shepherd Of Souls." The Dutch sextet put on a blistering performance which will have delighted fans of Behemoth, Vader and tonight's headliners, Belphegor. Unfortunately I'm not very familiar with their music and I couldn't find a setlist but I can confidently say that Bleeding Gods are destined for headlining European tours of their own and their fan base is only going to get bigger with both music and live performances as strong as this.

Up next was one of the most unique bands in all of metal, Melechesh. Black metal is controversial even in supposedly more liberal countries like Norway, but to form a black metal band in Jerusalem, the holiest city on Earth, takes some serious guts, though Melechesh has never been short on those. Still promoting their incredible sixth album, "Enki," which was showcased tonight with such songs as "Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged" and "Multiple Truths," the band put on a scorching performance which backed up my personal belief that they're one of the best live metal bands on the face of the Earth.

The crowd were in full swing too, which in turn only spurs the band on even more, as such creating the best non headling performance at The Dome since Brujeria in 2015. More fan favourites and staples were played such as "Ladders To Sumeria," "Grand Gathas of Baal Sin" and "Rebirth of the Nemesis." An absolutely mind bending and neck wrecking performance from the greatest metal export of the Middle East.

Finally, we come to the headliners of the evening, Austria's own, Belphegor. I was told before the concert that the band hates their sets being referred to as "shows" and prefers, "rituals," but it must be said that it was indeed one hell of a show. The band took to the stage practically clad in evil with a strange aroma in the air, much like their set at 70000 Tons Of Metal earlier this year, though they work much better in a smaller venue like this it would seem. Belphegor's brand of extreme metal might not be among the most original, at least not today, but it's still certainly up there when it comes to brutality. The sonic assault unleashed in the English capital was one to remember and Belphegor will be welcomed back with open arms by those dwelling in London's shadows again.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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