I arrived to be more or less on time, and normally getting into Luxembourg-City at 6pm would be purest horror, but as this was a period of school holidays, it was an especially calm rush hour, so that I entered the Atelier shortly after 6pm, when the first band must have just started to play. Svarttjern is a quintet from Norway that has been around for ten years and plays a dirty hybrid of blackened death thrash metal. The sound wasn’t really optimal, with the rhythm guitar leaving little space for the lead guitar, but the corpse painted misanthropes still did the best of the situation and consequently managed to get the 200 to 300 early comers’ positive attention. Svarttjern may not really do anything new, but they sure were the ideal opener for the evening.
After a short break, it was time for a true underground band. Inquisition started already back in the late Eighties in Colombia but moved to Seattle in the mid-Nineties. They have been a guitar and drums duo for a long time now, and frankly that made their sound a little thin of my ears. The audience, which gradually grew by numbers, didn’t seem to care though. Maybe it is in the end more about the artistic value of the corpse paint than it is about the music. But to be honest, Dagon was a hell of a guitar player, and Incubus drummed also quite coherently, as long as he didn’t miss his point of entry, as happened two or three times during their half hour set.
The third band of the evening In Solitude was a huge surprise, as they were standing naked on stage. In this case, this doesn’t mean “no clothes”, but rather “no corpse paint”. Also their music wasn’t black metal or death metal, not even thrash metal or power metal, but just plain, old, good heavy metal. Of course that alone wouldn’t do them justice, because the Swedish quintet had more to offer than just plain formalistic genre music. The singer looked like the illegitimate son of the late Joey Ramone, but acted more like a young Ian Astbury (The Cult) with all the glamour and mystery that entails. In Solitude’s music had a very occult touch, and in that way it did make sense that they participated on this tour. Their songs were also quite great, with a strong Seventies touch and undeniable blues and psychedelic elements, the latter being emphasised by burning incense sticks on the drum kit. The bass guitar had a nice dominant but not domineering sound, while especially the two guitarists were gods, feeding each other guitar solos in best Scandinavian way, as if there were no tomorrow. I guess at this moment there were about 400 people inside the Atelier, while the remaining 300 were less tolerant of unblack metal and preferring to stand outside in the not so cold (despite black metal, still no winter), some even closely huddled around the heat mushrooms that I personally consider a crime against global pollution. But anyway, after forty minutes, In Solitude left the stage and were my personal highlight of the evening.
The next break took a little longer, because Behemoth needed to get their stage set up. The Polish black metal legend has been around for a little over twenty years, and where most bands lose their steam along the way, Behemoth somehow achieved even bigger fame with their latest and well received album “The Satanist”. So it was no surprise that already shortly before they entered the stage with burning torches, the Atelier was neatly filled, and it also struck my attention that there were more women now present inside. The band started their set with their latest hit single “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, and from there on, there was nothing much to lose. The audience was going along, and the black metal veterans had an easy game. After four tracks I left, as I do prefer an atmosphere where there is more room to breathe... call me claustrophobic!
Behemoth’s vocalist Nergal is apparently still facing two years in prison in his native Poland for publicly tearing apart a Bible, and considering that he recently survived leukaemia, it would be tragic if he were incarcerated because of some obsolete law from a theocratic government. Tonight the bands were selling t-shirts with such friendly slogans like “Jesus is a cunt” and “Dead girls don’t say no”, and nobody cared, because in the end black metal is just like a good horror movie: the more shocking, the better!
So what about Cradle Of Filth? I once saw them at the same location in 1998, when I went there to watch Napalm Death and Borknagar. Back then, after two songs, I had enough. Cradle Of Filth may very well have some redeeming values, but for me they have always been the band that tried to make black metal mainstream. And also, I had been tonight at the Atelier since 6pm, and after three hours, I had enough noise and beer and had to get home safely.
But still, this was a very nice concert, with an audience of 700 friendly metalheads that once again proved that inverted crosses and pentagrams are much preferable to any hipster infested coolness zone.