16th December 2018
Merry Christless 2018 with Behemoth, Batushka, Bölzer, Imperator, Untervoid
The Merry Christless tour concert in Wroclaw was sold out long before the concert date. The most awaited event, the accumulation of Metal power, five shades of the most powerful music that can be, five fantastic shows and the massive dose of talent. We were given all that during the incredible concert that stands for, as Nergal (the frontman of BEHEMOTH) called it - a new, secular tradition on the map of Poland. It was the second edition of Merry Christless and, as I could see with my own eyes that it was close to beat the last year’s one. Hopefully the tradition lasts also in the next years. There were five bands in the line-up: UNTERVOID, IMPERATOR, BÖLZER, BATUSHKA and BEHEMOTH.
UNTERVOID was formed in 2015, just after Destroyer (KRIEGSMASCHINE, ex-HATE) and A. (ARMAGEDDON, ex-LOST SOUL, AZARATH-live) decided to create the music together. Their first mini album was released in 2017. https://www.facebook.com/untrvd
Music & Performance
The project presented exceptional sound of intensive guitars and aggressive vocals. Deep, profound tones combined skilfully into a lively running melodies got a sharp quality by means of extremely dramatic, emotional vocal. Altogether it gave an electrifying effect. The concert was a display of metal power, beautiful, quite dim lights that created a bit mysterious atmosphere and a perfect unison of the artists on stage.
Total 7.2 / 10
IMPERATOR was founded in 1984 by Bariel (Piotr Tomczyk). At first they got inspiration from bands such as HELLHAMMER, CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, VENOM, SODOM, which got reflected in their first demo albums, ‘Endless Sacrifice’ (1986), ‘Deathlive’ (1987) and ‘Eternal Might’ (1988). Soon after the said released the band came into hiatus to revive after 25 years for Merry Christless show. https://www.facebook.com/ImperatorOfficial
Music & Performance
Dark, Metal kickass tornado? Gloomy faces, head banging, rapacious guitars, harsh, intensive vocal? That’s IMPERATOR. Their music is a whirl of fast melodies enhanced by drums and uncontrollable guitars, strained by the dominating vocalic line. Energetic guitarists stood for the most vibrant part of the show and the pulsating, vibrant lights strengthened the sonic effect. Good, strong performance.
Total: 7 / 10
In 2018 it was the 10th anniversary of the Swiss project BÖLZER. Founded by KzR (Okoi Thierry Jones - guitars, vocal) and HzR (Fabian Wyrsch - drums) the project managed to get a strong place among the genre bands during the past decade. The project released their first demo in 2012; it was entitled ‘Roman Acupuncture’, and then two EPs, ‘Aura’ (2013) and ‘Soma’ (2014). BÖLZER combines the elements of Doom, Black Metal and Death Metal. In 2016 the duo released the album entitled ‘Hero’. http://www.bolzer.ch / https://www.facebook.com/erosatarms
Music & Performance
The concert of BÖLZER made use of, gently speaking, and extremely faint light. We could only see the shapes of the musicians’ silhouettes so the whole focus was on music. Perhaps that was intentional, but one can barely speak about any visible performance in this case. Still it had a very specific, unique atmosphere to it which, I’m sure, many people enjoyed very much. The power of music was absolutely amazing. It was a combination of characteristic, exceptional vocal with aggressive, intense, fast melodic line. The voice was instinctive, it had a quality of chanting, wolf howling or wailing, it was extremely dramatic, moving and passionate. It reached the listener in a remarkable way especially when paired with a powerful machine of guitars and drums. It kicked hard. Highly energetic, impressive concert. Despite the lack of nice (or any for that matter) views.
Total: 7.2 / 10
BATUSHKA is a Polish group formed in 2015. Their music combines Black Meal with Old Church Slavonic elements. The lyrics refer to Orthodox Church. Their first single, ‘Yekteníya VII’ was released in 2015 and it promoted the first album of the band that was out in December the same year. ‘Litourgiya’ got a positive feedback both from fans and critics hence the concert tour came right after. After performing in Ukraine and Belarus the band joined BEHEMOTH and BÖLZER, and toured in Poland in 2016. In 2017 they played at Wacken Open Air and Brutal Assault. https://www.batushkastore.com / https://www.facebook.com/Batushkaband
Music & Performance
When it comes to the particular band it’s hard not to mention the visual part of their concerts. Actually, you may even say it was the imagery that predominated the whole performance while the music got flooded by all the scenic paraphernalia. It’s hard to say whether it’s an advantage or disadvantage, but one needs to take into consideration it’s the concert not the theatre after all. The music should at least play an equal part to the scenic folklore and not be set aside to the background. In my view the sound got lost in the flood of incense, lights, candles, church bells, visualisations, rich costumes and the performance itself. Still, it’s hard to deny that it was spectacular - by all means it was. The artists wearing black gowns and masks totally covering them (the anonymity is a part of the band’s mythology), the ocean of red and crimson, the props straight from Old Church Slavonic, crosses, skulls, candles, incense - the stage was busy and crowded.
It’s hard to use other word than the theatre to describe it - for the sake of the concert the whole scenery was built up on the stage and the result was breath-taking indeed. The gold of candle lights and the icons presented as visuals, the dark black of the costumes and masks, crimson of the materials used to decorate the stage and the altar that served as the vocalists’ singing tribune, theatricality and exaggeration of gestures, profundity, darkness and mystery - all these elements combined together gave remarkable effect. The music by BATUSHKA was, as I already mentioned, a combination of Old Church Slavonic elements, mostly deep incantations and melodic parts, with doom and black metal. Screaming, harsh vocal, chanting and the tight tangle of guitars and drums - it was a strong thing. Especially at the moments when the pace was intensified and the sound deepened. Amazing concert that got the audience off their feet with the power of the sonic avalanche - totally unique experience, it’s worth going to their concert at least once to see and feel it.
Total: 9.8 / 10
BEHEMOTH was formed in October 1991 in Gdansk, Poland. Up until 1992 they performed under the name BAPHOMET. At the very beginning their core was Black Metal. Later, starting from 1994 they added some Pagan Metal elements to their music, next their evolved towards Death Metal getting inspiration from Dark East mythology and occultism in the end. The leader for the band is Adam “Nergal” Darski, he also manages the band within the agency New Aeon Music. Just before the December concerts the new release was out - it was a concert material entitled ‘Messe Noire’ that was recorded in Warsaw club Progresja (8 Oct 2016). It features the presentation of the whole album ‘The Satanist’ as well as the band’s performance at Brutal Assault. Moreover, the band released the new album ‘I Loved You At Your Darkness’. In January 2019 BEHEMOTH is going on tour “Ecclesia Diabolica Europa 2019”. They will give a series of concerts in numerous cities e.g. Frankfurt, Munich, Madrid, Paris, Hamburg, Oberhausen, Stockholm, Helsinki or Glasgow. Perhaps you may feel like joining them, it’s definitely worth it. http://behemoth.pl / https://www.facebook.com/behemoth
Music & Performance
In his biography - or should I say, an interview being canvas for a biography – ‘Confessions of a Heretic’ of 2012 Nergal said “In ‘Chant For Eschaton’, I sing, ‘Remove all gods from my way.’ There is no place in my life for any powers of nature superior to men. I absolutely decline the belief in a personified God. I also decline the belief that our fortunes and misfortunes are dependent on some force majeure. We take responsibility for our own lives. Knock God off the pedestal and you will take his place. Deus absconditus. That’s my philosophy.” (Sacrum Profanum, Confessions of a Heretic 2012). The particular fragment got to my head since it places the human fate right in the human hands, it counters blaming the external circumstances or mental laziness for one’s own misery. The story of BEHEMOTH that reached extraordinary success is a story of hard work, determination, engagement, business skill and talent and it's really inspiring to see it working. I was privileged to see all those things in Wroclaw - professionalism, perfection, meticulous preparation, fantastic scenic manner, charisma, richness of props, lights, special effects. And the music being a kick-ass combination of power, energy and the outburst of what’s best about metal - raging fire and hard, though melodic line. Real, Hardcore show!
The concert started with the recording of ‘Solve’ - it was a kind of a background for preparations that were being made on stage behind the curtain. And then there was a blast (metaphorically and literally). The artists would not slow down for even a moment during the entire show - impressive guitar and vocalic performance, diabolic, expressive mimicry, the fire and smoke show, the breath-taking festival of lights - heavenly blue or hellishly red. Amazing outfits and make-ups - enough to mention “personalized” pope hat or feathery hat - all those elements stood for a perfectly harmonious performance. The one thing left to do is to applaud their imagery and realization of the vision that gave such a splendid effect. Still, only the BEHEMOTH music could stand such an abundance of props without creating a kitsch effect. Full-blooded, fiery metal was a perfect match to impressive scenery. Gorgeous melo-vocalic power was like a shock wave that got the audience gathered in CKA2 off their feet. The concert, the tempo, the quality and style - all of it mixed together was magnificent and thrilling to such an extent it gave the most fantastic adrenaline outburst. Fantastic show!
Just like I mentioned at the beginning Nergal is pretty active in giving his opinions on religion, philosophy, music, life as such - it was the same during the concert when he chatted with the audience during the breaks in between particular songs. The message was clear - think on your own. What I have always liked about Nergal is that he has always spoken his own voice and lived up to it. The effects of such an approach I can benefit from are inspiring indeed. Thank you!
02. Wolves ov Siberia
04. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
06. Ov Fire and the Void
07. God = Dog
08. Conquer All
09. Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica
10. Decade of Therion
11. Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
12. Slaves Shall Serve
13. Chant for Eschaton 2000
15. We Are the Next 1000 Years
Total: 10 / 10
All pictures by Karo Kratochwil