True Norwegian Black Metal

“WeareKeepofKalessinfromNorway,” exhaled the croaking accent.

You could spot them beforehand in the stage wings as their long instrumental intro decibeled symphonic: lanky, blond, raccoon black eyes. Out front of Stubb’s streaming early birds, 6:45pm, the Trondheim quartet’s light coating of ghostly pancake make-up glowed in the slowly setting sun, making its first appearance of the hot doomy day. Keep of Kalessin’s front line, in tight black leather pants and leather-embossed black shirts, had already worked up a Lone Star sweat before striking note one.

That musical avalanche struck fast and hard, guitarist and bassist doing the long locks spin cycle as the singer’s deep rasp bellowed just ahead of their lightning strike melodies. Only the drummer’s incessant machine gun double kick drums, never wavering from their brick wall of rhythm, marred Kalessin’s 30 minutes of opening pummel.

“We missed you Texas,” roared another accent exactly 58 minutes later. A sea of black metal tees, closing in on its comfortable evening high of many hundreds, raised their horn forks over their heads and loosened a cry reciprocating the sentiment. One teen – the bars went mostly empty all night – his black back scripted in large headstone lettering, “True Norwegian Black Metal,” could easily be excused if Behemoth proved beyond a doubt what the headliners pronounced them two hours later: “Poland’s best band.”

Ashen base shadowed skeletal with thick black ocular circles, Behemoth’s war paint played as sinister as the fourpiece’s glorious grind. A pair of eagle standards guarding the drummer and the spiked armor protecting the guitar-wielding singer and his two sidemen bespoke the musical hostility they wrought as top-tier black metal mercenaries. Behemoth’s kick drums barreled equally Panzer only in time to what the rest of the group unleashed. “How much are you motherfuckers enjoying your black fucking metal?” howled the singer. The deep bass tenor of the response once again thundered in the affirmative. The same throng muttered confusion when the band brought Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway onstage to say ‘ello, but was soon back to moshing happily. By the time Behemoth spat blood as their finale, darkness descended didn’t stand a chance against their incinerating white heat.

“Ready for a night of unholy black metal?” screeched the last accent of the evening at the stroke of 9pm. The masked cardinals in long robes and holy man headgear flanking Dimmu Borgir’s singing behemoth swayed in the crowd’s windy reply. The Norwegian sextet’s glowering In Sorte Diaboli (Nuclear Blast) shot back with 75 minutes of “antichristus spiritualis,” adorned with pentagrams, bullish iconography, and the bassist’s Geoff Tate-like operatic stoke. Double kick drums here again worked within Dimmu Borgir’s metallic hysteria, which grew increasingly foreboding as the set withered on, loud, liquid, and succubus. Damnation.

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