Dimmu Borgir / Enslaved / Sahg
21 September 2010
The Forum, London
This gig felt very strangely timed, what with Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved’s new albums not due out for another week.Perhaps this offered some explanation for the turnout, which was down on Dimmu’s last visit to this venue three years ago and tonight saw the balcony closed.
As usual, they don’t hang about at the Forum and within 15 minutes of entering the venue, Sahg were making their way on stage.Aside from being from Norway, on paper Sahg’s doomy metal might have seemed an odd fit.However, there are direct links to the other bands through bassist Tom Cato Visnes (aka King Ov Hell) recording the Ov Hell album with Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath and Enslaved’s Ice Dale and the latter also being in Audrey Horne with Sahg guitarist Thomas Tofthagen.
After a bit of an uncomfortable gap following their intro tape, Sahg surprisingly went back to their debut album to open the set with the slow paced Godless Faith. Not that there was much of a crowd yet to grab, but the poor sound mix which had bassist Visnes booming at the expense of the guitars, made for a less than enthralling opening. However, the punchy riff of Baptism Of Fire soon rectified things with the following Mortify and Mother’s Revenge hinting at how Sahg III had received a Terrorizer Album of The Month award.
It was at this point, perhaps due to their being more bodies in the venue, that the sound began to improve and whilst The Executioner Undead may have been unfamiliar to many, it received the biggest cheer of the set at the end.Closing song Pyromancer was provided with the best sound and lights, ensuring Sahg left on a high. This was the first night of the tour hence a perfect performance wasn’t expected and with typical opening band sound Sahg did well with things stacked against them. I’d really like to see them again headlining in a smaller venue.
In Through The Eye (intro) / Godless Faith / Baptism Of Fire / Mortify / Mother’s Revenge / The Executioner Undead / Pyromancer
I general find I need to live with a new Enslaved album for a while until it suddenly jumps out at me and has me hooked. Surprisingly the repetitive nature of Ethica Odini, which opened the set, caught me quite quickly and the yin-yan of Grutle Kjellson’s aggressive vocal and Hebrand Larsen’s clean vocal worked to good effect. Raidho was more what I expected as a first hearing of an Enslaved song and came as a tease rather than an absorbing experience. Enslaved seemed genuinely pumped to be back on stage, with Grutle roaming and Ice Dale, shirtless of course, pulling guitar hero poses.
Fusion Of Sense & Earth offered familiarity and with hardly the best sound that familiarity provided the key to thoroughly getting in to the experience. Whilst the crowd were receptive, after an enthusiastic cheer they returned to silence. In response guitarist Ivar Bjørnson joked, “Tuesday was actually the day of noise in the United Kingdom and it’s time to bring back that tradition”.It was then time for “some really old stuff” as Enslaved took us all the way back to their 1993 Hordanes Land EP for Allfadr Odhinn. This song really did belie its age and had Grutle not pointed out it was old I don’t think newcomers to Enslaved would have been any of the wiser. The crowd burst into a “hey, hey, hey” chant mid song and that excitement was raised when Isa followed.
New song The Beacon’s opening felt like being in a wind tunnel as blast beats eventually gave way to a solid headbanging pace. Again, this was one I’d like some time with.However Ground, surprisingly the only song tonight from Vertebrae, was by far the easiest on the ear in Enslaved’s set. It would appear the new album Axioma Ethica Odini is reintroducing aggression into Enslaved’s sound and change is certainly not something unexpected from the Norwegians.
Axioma (intro) / Ethica Odini / Raidho / Fusion Of Sense & Earth / Allfadr Odhinn / Isa / The Beacon / Ground
I should point out that a bout of “man-flu” was making itself felt by this point hence I wasn’t on top form.
As the intro tape ended, the three Dimmu Borgir live session members, bassist Cyrus (Terje Andersen), keyboard player Brat (Geir Bratland) and drummer Daray (Dariusz Brzozowski) took to the stage as a slow riff was played. Guitarists Slienoz and Galder followed and finally Shagrath took centre stage, announcing “Behold the rise of a new era forewarned”. The familiar keyboards of Spellbound (By The Devil) cut through the dense sound as the three permanent members stalked the front of the stage.
As per the recent promo shots, there was a lot of white fur present (Snowy Shaw influenced?) and we were not sure whether the Puff Daddy look suited Shagrath. He also had what looked like a ferret on either shoulder. As a Yorkshire man I feel I should advise him ferret’s go down trousers of course! Back to serious matters and The Chosen Legacy continued with the crowd holding horns aloft and joining in the In Sorte Diaboli shout. It was clearly apparent by watching Brat, who looked like something from a Hellraiser film, that a lot of the orchestration was on a backing track, as were the choir and female vocals through the set. Disappointingly, the clean male vocals were also tracked, with Shagrath half miming and half sort of talking along with them. I’m very intrigued to hear what went down with Snowy Shaw as it seems Dimmu Borgir were left with some late decisions on how to approach the bassist and clean vocals position and it will be interesting to see if Cyrus is replaced as the tour progresses. Initially it seemed he had been relegated to the podium next to the drum kit, however during the new self titled song, Dimmu Borgir, he headed down and wandered the stage.
Here was the section that, with the aid of said man-flu, sealed my evening. Enslaved had played a few songs scattered in their set. Dimmu Borgir meanwhile chose to hit us with five new songs in a row. It’s probable, given the level of production, the setlist had been set for the whole Darkness Reborn tour and unfortunately for us we fell on one of two dates which occurred before Abrahadabra’s release.Whilst the new songs sounded like they were going to be strong, slowly the atmosphere ebbed away from the crowd, with even Shagrath declaring after the last new song that we may need a little time to absorb them. Too true!
I took my leave after The Blazing Monoliths of Defiance, however Johan informs me that Vredesbyrd was very good and the set picked up as a slew of favourites wrapped up the set. I think in hindsight, this gig would have worked far better if those classics had been thrown in-between some of the new songs.As it is, I’m deeply jealous of the Scandinavian’s who get to see this tour in a couple of weeks when both Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved’s albums are out.
Dimmu Borgir setlist:
Xibir (intro) / Spellbound (By The Devil) / The Chosen Legacy / IndoctriNation / Dimmu Borgir / Gateways / Chess With The Abyss / Born Treacherous / A Jewel Traced Through Coal / The Blazing Monoliths Of Defiance / Vredesbyrd / The Serpentine Offering / Puritania / Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse / Mourning Palace / Perfection Or Vanity (outro)