Hypocrisy / Noctiferia / Abgott
10 January 2006
Camden Underworld

Peter Tägtgren remarked that this was one of the weirdest gigs in that first it was on, then it was off. In the end it was back on again, at a different venue and about 12 hours before Rockers Digest photographer Johan returned from a break in Sweden, much to his annoyance. Hence photo & reviewing duties were down to yours truly for our first gig of 2006.

Apparently Abgott`s drummer is the Antichrist! That myth was blown by a rather embarrassed looking Antichrist, in full corpsepaint, put through a lengthy drum soundcheck in front of the waiting crowd. However, when the band finally does launch into The Eye Yog Sothoth, said sticksman did suddenly appear possessed as he clattered his way around his kit with furious abandon.

If the band is really trying to be evil, it doesn`t work. They come across about as evil as Marduk`s former frontman Legion and his parody on black metal. Frontman Agamoth talks like Papa Lazarou between songs and guitarist Thanatos had me in stitches with his pantomime spiteful faces every time a camera is pointed in his direction. What the band are however is entertaining, and they provide blistering bursts of primal black metal which cleared out any post New Year cobwebs in my eardrums. If I had any hair left it would probably have be blown out by the wind tunnel effect the band evoke during Countess Bathory.

Abgott set list:
The Eye Yog Sothoth / Thy Infernal Fields / Countess Bathory / From Thy Behind Shub Niggurath / No Mortiis / Nominato Essere Deve Non Colui Htohtaza / Church Of Necrophilism / Experiment Of Evil

Noctiferia`s last album Per Aspera was a criminally overlooked extreme metal gem, mixing latter day Emperor and Morbid Angel with many an interesting twist and turn. Looking forward to what the band may offer up from it, I sneaked a peak at the set list taped to one of the monitors and was confused to discover seven songs that do not appear on either of the Noctiferia`s albums, nor with titles that you would expect from the band.

With the drummer donning headphones and an electro backing track kicking in as the first song commenced with simple downtuned riffing, my conclusion was that Noctiferia were not playing tonight. Wrong! Vocalist Gianni Poposki confirmed the identity of the band who have completely changed tack. Now this left me in a dilemma as Noctiferia were undeniable good, if perhaps unspectacular, at this new style, however, I was longing for them to slip into their former approach.

Discovering that the band had recently been in the studio with Peter Tägtgren made sense as to why they were here tonight, but with their changed direction they would perhaps make more sense supporting Tägtgren`s other band Pain. Anyone, which was dedicated to "all the girls", certainly leaned in that band`s direction and Bring Out The Beast was infectious enough to get a few members of the luke-warm crowd nodding in approval.

Perhaps Noctiferia feel they gave extreme metal their best shot, got nowhere and decided to switch focus. If its success they crave, my concern for them now would be that the genre that they now seem comfortable in has already peaked.

Noctiferia set list:
Downfall / Out Of Play / Turn Away / So Devoid / Anyone / Bring Out The Beast / Mara

The first two weeks of January always tend to be a gig deadzone with reduced attendances, so it didn`t surprise me that this show was moved to the more intimate Underworld. Whilst not packed, the attendance was very respectably busy and Hypocrisy seemed well up for entertaining whoever showed up tonight.

All ten studio albums were touched upon, and whilst I have found Hypocrisy consistent throughout those albums, new album Virus has turned out to be a little bit special. The Dimmu Borgir-like Warpath, from that album, opens the set and it`s a relief that the sound is spot on.

Expanding their line-up to a four piece with the inclusion of Andreas Holma was a wise move, with the guitar sound full and twin interplay on the likes of Scrutinized a joy to hear. Holma and bassist Mikael Hedlund constantly swap sides of the stage adding movement which was lacking in the preceding bands tonight.

One of the great strengths of Hypocrisy is the variety of speed of their material. Hence, Until The End slows things down, compromising neither heaviness nor melody whilst they can also dip into their back catalogue and throw in something furious like Inferior Devoties, a song I`m not convinced actually has any real lyrics. Unsurprisingly ex-Immortal drummer Horgh looks at ease on that song as he does throughout the set.

I`d been interested to see the response to anything from Hypocrisy`s most controversial album Catch 22. I`m not sure whether it was premeditated, but Tägtgren`s query, "Let`s see if we can get a pit going", prior to Turn The Page certainly got the desired response.

A list of songs rested on the Horgh`s drum riser which Tägtgren visited between each song deciding what to play next. He seemed to be enjoying what felt like a low key show and his occasional requests of "What do you want to hear next?" broke the barriers between band and crowd. One barrier not to be crossed was to step onto the stage, with any potential divers taken out by members of the road crew. Particularly funny was when one diver was caught by his belt mid-take off leaving him swinging in a diving position and nearly leaving his trousers behind.

The main set closed with alien anthem Roswell 47, but it wasn`t long before the band returned to the stage. Eraser was the centre-point and highlight of the encore with much of the crowd singing along to its catchy chorus. Final Chapter fittingly was the swan song of the evening with Tägtgren shouting "Come on London scream for me, now I scream for yaaaaaahhhhhh", into the opening of the song.

Hypocrisy have dates in Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin & Nottingham next month and on tonight`s performance my conclusion is be there if you can.

Hypocrisy set list:
Warpath / Carved Up / Scrutinized / Until The End / Adjusting The Sun / Fire In The Sky / A Thousand Lies / Turn The Page / Apocalypse / Let The Knife Do The Talking / Fractured Millennium / Inferior Devoties / Roswell 47 / Impotent God / Eraser / Final Chapter