Candlemass / Destruction / Deathchain / Perzonal War
24 November 2005
Camden Underworld, London

Very early doors at the Underworld tonight meant I missed the entire set of Perzonal War and only caught a glimpse of Deathchain. Johan managed to get some photos of the latter.

Candlemass and Destruction have been rotating slots on this co-headline tour and tonight it was Destruction who took to the stage first. Three microphone stands with metal skulls stood on the stage which was flooded with dry ice. The German thrashers arrived with Soul Collector, with bullet belts, studs, leather waistcoats and flying V`s.

The three microphone stands were of course all for bassist/vocalist Schmier, giving him the ability to move around stage and sing in whichever he was passing. A three-piece line up really focus on each element of the band and guitarist Mike Sifringer, looking the epitome of German metal, really proved why he is one of the great thrash guitarists. Behind them Marc Reign, sat quite high behind his kit, held down the beat with relentless tom.

Nailed To The Cross was immense, despite one over zealous fan constantly climbing on stage to sing in one of the microphones, much to Schmier`s displeasure. However, everyone joined in for the "Nailed to the f**king cross" refrain. Coincidentally I was at the same time video taping a BBC This World documentary about death metal murders and on watching it when I returned home this very song was featured in the show. Curiously it had not inspired me to commit heinous crimes tonight.

Mike then commenced a very familiar riff whilst nodding his head with a knowing look as the Mad Butcher was unleashed on us and chaos reigned. Sticking with the older stuff Unconscious Ruins was a joy to hear.

Destruction had not just brought out the old thrashers however with their newer material seemingly more familiar with a lot of the crowd. Two such songs being The Defiance Will Remain, featuring some cool pinch harmonics, and Thrash Till, which name checks some thrash metal classics.

Schmier dedicated Life Without Sense to Candlemass and encourage the crowd to respond with some "oi, oi, oi" chanting. Mid song however, a poorly executed stage dive saw the diver catapulted back stage-ward by the crowd smashing straight into the mic Schmier was singing in and nearly taking out his front teeth. Schmier recoiled and stopped playing briefly while shouting at the road crew to keep the stage clear. At the songs conclusion I had to wonder whether he was going to walk off such was his anger. He told us as much as he likes aggressive shows he did not want to lose his teeth and made it clear that the next person doing that would regret it.

Following that, the bands own aggression seemed to up through the next few songs with Curse The Gods and Bestial Invasion particularly brutal. Schmier`s mood seemed to have cleared as he told us that this had been one of the best shows of the tour and for a finale Messiah Marcolin of Candlemass took the stage to share vocal duties on The Alliance Of Hellhoundz.

Schmier told us that no British magazine had contacted the band for an interview for the band`s latest album Inventor Of Evil and he was therefore glad to see the turnout. Hopefully the healthy response will tempt Destruction back over the channel.

Destruction set list:
Soul Collector / Nailed To The Cross / Mad Butcher / Unconscious Ruins / Medley (The Ritual/Antichrist/Release From Agony) / The Defiance Will Remain / Thrash Till Death / Life Without Sense / Metal Discharge / Eternal Ban / Curse The Gods / Total Desaster / Bestial Invasion / The Butcher Strikes Back / The Alliance Of Hellhoundz (with Messiah Marcolin)

Due to a family emergency Candlemass had played the previous three night as a four piece without guitarist Mats Björkman. Luckily for us Björkman had returned tonight and it was clear that the band were delighted to have him back on stage. Messiah in particular, who was constantly heading over and putting his arm around him.

After initially reforming, Candlemass ground to a halt once more following various disagreements between band members. Since then, interviews have highlighted that learning to compromise has played a big part in the bands reunion. One such concession being that each band member takes a turn at choosing the set list and whoever chose tonight chose well. The end result of this appears to be a much healthier Candlemass. Certainly tonight they came across much more at ease with each other with lots of interaction between band members and joking about. Importantly the band are also as tight as hell, so much so that it was like listening to the bands classic live cd.

A one, two, three of Mirror Mirror, Bewitched and Solitude remind all what a good live band Candlemass are. The bands fun onstage persona is at complete odds with their slow doom anthems but this works perfectly. Messiah has the crowd immediately, getting them to clap along and sing the chorus to Bewitched. Meanwhile the sloth like Solitude is so heavy you can feel the bass moving inside your torso.

Black Dwarf takes the band to their maximum speed level and featured a cracking solo from Lars Johansson. It`s apparently by design that the left handed Johansson lines up to Messiah`s left with Björkman on the right in order that the guitars point in on each other. The master of doom song writing Leif Edling occupies the centre stage often dropping low to the ground with bass held aloft. Curiously his black hair and chin beard was vaguely reminiscent of someone I couldn`t put my finger on. That was until whilst awaiting for Leif to start his bass run during Crystal Ball, Messiah shouted, "Come on Nikki Sixx!" much to everyone`s amusement.

Messiah is in his element as master of ceremonies. In his trademark monk robes he is enthralling at all times and his gestures never end as he demands a constant response from the crowd. For Dark Are The Veils Of Death he mimics stirring a cauldron, before clambering on top of the monitors towards the raised area stage left. A short break for a taped funeral march echoes in the monstrous The Well Of Souls with the whole crowd joining in with "wooahs" to the riff.

A break while Björkman changed to his white guitar complete with Candlemass skull with crucifix logo led to an impromptu jazz interlude from Johansson and it`s this sense of fun that runs through the entire set.

Now whilst it was a shame that due to low pre-sales the venue for tonight`s show had to be downsized, the more claustrophobic environment of the Underworld works in Candlemass` favour. Edling had stated that he was really looking forward to the London show and it appears that shows in this town hold great memories for them. With the crowd right behind them the show must rank as one of the best this year and time simply flew by too quickly. Finishing up with Samarithan and Crystal Ball could leave no one disappointed, except perhaps that the band couldn`t continue longer into the evening …we have late licensing laws now you know!

Candlemass set list:
Mirror Mirror / Bewitched / Solitude / Black Dwarf / Copernicus / Dark Are The Veils Of Death / The Well Of Souls / Born In A Tank / Samarithan / Crystal Ball

Perzonal War