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moonspellThe Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
29th October 2019
Moonspell with support from Rotting Christ & Silver Dust

The great thing about the Islington Assembly Hall is that it’s only a five minute walk away from where I live. It’s so close in fact that I can pop home between bands to change my clothes and have a quick cup of tea if I chose before walking back up to take in the next band. Originally opened in the 1930s for the hosting of variety acts, tea dances and meetings it closed in the mid-1980s, remaining dormant until 2010 when it was refurbished and opened as an 800 capacity venue.

The first gig I attended was TOY way back in 2015. It is one of the better venues in the area along with the Union Chapel just up the road that is just the right size to retain an intimate vibe that melds with its Art Deco character. So far all of the artists I have seen here have been of a sufficiently high calibre to justify the booking, tonight’s triptych maintaining that standard...

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Silver Dust

...First we have a new addition to my inner library of musical experiences… SILVER DUST are a Steampunk cum Gothic Horror Metal band from the West-Swiss Town of Porrentruy. They have been in existence for around six years and in that time they have released three albums and toured with the likes of LORDI, AMON AMARTH, ELUVEITIE and THE DEFTONES.

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Music & Performance
Tonight the stage is bedecked with slide screens that show various characters that I assume are on the albums, these characters dressed in all sorts of attire from gas masks and trench coats to white gowns and face veils. All setting the scene for what to expect when the band enter the stage. They are bearded, behatted, frock-coated and nail-polished, a band that would not be out of place at Whitby Goth Weekend or Wave Gotik Treffen. The music is orchestral and electronic with theatrical and metallic overtones and I could see them creating music for some west end show about vampiric shenanigans and forbidden love etc.

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They describe themselves as Tim Burtonesque, I’d concur with that assessment! I’ve not much else to say really other than that Silver Dust aren’t bad at all. They are worth checking out if you’ve not done so already.

Music: 8
Performance: 8
Light: 8
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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Rotting Christ

SILVER DUST did their job of loosening up the crowd, now for the sustained simmer! Athens residents ROTTING CHRIST play their first show in the UK since Bloodstock earlier this year. It was nice to see them again as I have not seen them live since they played at the Camden Underworld a few years back. Their dark and uniquely Hellenic sound mix of Gothic, Death and Black Metal elements never ceases to innervate and enliven my inner juices.

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Music & Performance
There is something about the sound of this band that just hooks me, just like HEILUNG, TRIPTYKON and WARDRUNA to name but a few, they have this indefinable something that perfectly encapsulates whatever emotion, feeling or desire I may be experiencing at a given time and like a good meal that satiates me nutritionally, emotionally and spiritually, ROTTING CHRIST do the same! Apart from one instance where I went and stood behind the mixing desk under the balcony at the back and for the duration of one track, I think it was ‘The Forest of N’Gai’, every cell in my body vibrated to a point where I nearly threw up. I had this weird feeling in the back of my throat that would resonate then traipse down my spine. If anyone else felt what I felt they were doing a damn good job of hiding it. If I had been pushed beyond the point of no return, luckily there was a big bin positioned to my left…

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Once I’d removed myself from this location behind the mixing desk and repositioned elsewhere the thought occurred to me that it is actually nice to see ROTTING CHRIST perform in a decent venue in London. The venue did their sound more favours, if you put aside the urge to puke incident. Tracks played tonight, in no particular order were ‘Apage Satana’ from the last but one album ‘Rituals’ which is just one awesome ball of percussive noise suffused with the chant of ‘Apage Satana’ which finishes with wiry, sinewy guitar and guttural screams. ‘666’ was the opener! I was in the pit taking photos, I look around, the horns are up and many pairs of eyes are closed in exalted concentration. ‘In Yumen- Xibalba’ conquers your fears like the musical equivalent of a black and white photograph deep of tone and high in tension and atmosphere. As if one was taking a trip down into the bowels of a watery subterranean space… ’Grandis Spiritus Diavolos’ drives you forward, head banging, arms raised to the chorus of voices! The guitar linear and thinly metallic, love it! The last 30 seconds are simply sublime!

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The album ‘Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy’ was where most of the tracks came from tonight, a damn fine album in my view, followed by ‘Fire God and Fear’ and ‘Dies Irae’ from 2019s ‘The Heretics’. The former, which starts out on the album with Doug Bradley style narration and chirping birds, started a circular mosh just behind the front row which I caught when briefly turning to access the energy levels in the crowd. Reassured that the level was high I resumed my face front orientation. The latter starts with a chugga-chugga-chugga followed by a soaring chorus of male voices, the perfect accompaniment to crowd surfing. Bodies supine and in cross like poses, eyes staring at the heavens as the spirit takes it final ascent to meet the almighty for final judgement. The penultimate track ‘Grandis Spiritus Diavolos’ was my favourite track of the whole set. A gradual build-up of momentum helped by the kick drum and soaring guitars that take you on a ride over high peaks and through low clouds until around six minutes in when a brief moment of respite, and then the guitars take you higher to climactic finish...

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Finally, after 60 minutes of frenzy, myth and religiosity we come to the sets closing. The proceedings are wrapped up by ‘Non Serviam’ I’d say that for large contingent in the crowd, they were well and truly served!

01. 666
02. Dub-Sag-Ta-Ke
03. Fire, God and Fear
04. Kata Ton Diamona Eaytoy
05. Nemecic
06. Apage Satana
07. Dies Irae
08. The Sign Of Evil Existence
09. Societas Satanas
10. In Yumen-Xibalba
12. Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
13. Non Serviam

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Light: 7
Sound: 7
Total: 7.8 / 10

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To round up tonight’s buffet of pan European Metal we have MOONSPELL, who hail from the Amadora district of Lisbon. They were formed in 1992 and class their music as Dark Metal. I’d add Gothic and Classic Metal to that description also. The one constant in their 27 year existence is the dulcet tones of lead vocalist Fernando Ribeiro.

Music & Performance
I have followed MOONSPELL on and off for a few years since the release of their 2012 album ‘Alpha Noir / Omega Black’ and tonight was my first exposure to them live. They played a 15 track set in a near capacity Islington Assembly Hall on a Tuesday night which was acknowledged and appreciated by lead singer Fernando Ribeiro.

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From the crowd at the front and right to the back of the balcony the energy palpable. From where I was sitting exclamations of “Are you having a good time?” weren’t needed because it was blatantly obvious people were. Especially amongst the sizable Portuguese members of the crowd! I was reliably told that the venue had had a new sound system installed so the overall effect of the music was enhanced considerably and flattered the setlist, which included output from the albums ‘Wolfheart’, ‘Irreligious’, ‘Night Eternal’, ‘Extinct’ and the most recent release ‘1755’ which is a concept about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

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The proceedings were started with the ominously gothic track ‘Em Nome Do Medo’ from the ‘1755’ album, Fernando Ribeiro taking to the stage carrying a candle lamp setting the scene for this dark operatic drama. The next two tracks carry on this theme. ‘1755’ starting out with operatic voices accompanied by soaring keyboards and that warm gloopy five-string bass. Later on in the track there is a satisfyingly doodly passage of guitar that leads the listener into a wall of exotic sounding strings before the voices return in the final stages. So far so good! There’s nothing negative I can say about the set as a whole. ‘Opium’ and ‘Awake’ sounding more like dramatic FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM than apocalyptic. By the time the track ‘Breathe’ was played I was up in the balcony area.

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The energy down in the stalls was now getting wound up into a web of ecstatic convulsion whilst many in the balcony were head banging and arm waving on the incline. No one was in danger of falling over the front thankfully having safely ensconced themselves a few rows back. By the time ‘Vampiria’ made her presence known I was head banging with abandon from a sedentary position. I love this track, it reminds me of CRADLE OF FILTH’s ‘Midian’ and TIM CURRY’s exaltations about the infernal night in the film ‘Legend’. Horns galore are raised into the air, dreadlocks are swirled and defiant fists are exclaimed as the first bars of ‘Alma Mata’ kick in! Satisfyingly anthemic with punchy emphasis on the bass, the crowd swaying and swirling and writhing like one organism perfectly synchronized to a universal rhythm and feeling!

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After around 75 minutes the nights proceeding are coming to a close. The encore consisted of ‘Todos Os Santos’ followed by the traditional gig closer ‘Full Moon Madness’. A fitting ending to a good night, this track hits the spot. With vocals and bass that sound very FOTN and keyboards a la THE CURE topped with soaring and meandering guitars that take one off up into the heights of a moon lit sky before you descend back down into a misty blackness of the Carpathian Forest.

01. Em Nom Do Medo
02. 1755
03. Desastre
04. Opium
05. Awake
06. Night Eternal
07. Breathe (Until we Are No More)
08. Extinct
09. Everything Invaded
10. 1 De Novembro
11. Mephisto
12. Vampiria
13. Alma Mata
14. Todos Os Santos
15. Full Moon Madness

Music: 8
Performance: 8
Light: 8
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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All pictures by Cimmerian Photography

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