Presenting the "Lucifer Over America" tour and what a befitting title it would be for an event that brought together two different continents worth of some of the heaviest and most interesting bands that currently are trampling over the fans of the Black Metal scene. The show was to be headlined by Athens's Greece underground Metal icons Rotting Christ with direct support from New York's own Immolation and kicking the whole affair off would be Belphegor and Averse Sefira. The amount of talent on this one made the room attendance be at a considerably high amount very early on so no one would miss the crushing levels of darkness that would be hitting them. I went into this one with very limited background on Rotting Christ outside of knowing they are somewhat legendary in the underground scene and are perhaps the first such a band to come out of their region of the world. It was only through samples that I had heard their songs and while listed as a Black Metal act felt they were something far different. Averse Sefira would be the first band up and here is what happened in case you missed it.
Averse Sefira: I have only seen this band once before and I believe it was for the Emperor show last year at this very same venue. I enjoyed what I experienced the first time around with this Candlelight Records band and judging by the look and sound of them it would seem that intense Black Metal is not something that only comes from our European neighbors these days. The three-piece group hails from Austin, Texas and is one of the most impressive as far as a stateside contribution to the genre. Their singer Sanguine Mapsama does double duty as guitarist while bassist Wrath and drummer Carcass show equal amount of Black Metal power during their performances. The band is a solid live act and they pretty much thunder through their numbers with considerable force. Sanguine growls to the audience every so often and keeps their focus on him when he wants it in a voice that chills the blood. They were playing some of the tracks from their new Candlelight Records release "Advent Parallax", which really sounded good and reminded me that I needed to pick up the CD based on how this stuff was sounding live. They are not a new group by any stretch of the imagination and have been doing this since around 1996, but as far as a New York audience was concerned had only come to their attention over the last couple of years. The Emperor show had to have helped them since it was a performance that was packed to every corner of the venue and with them showing how they meant business it was clear that some of those fans were converted to the dark side that Averse Sefira offers them up to. I can see why there is such an appeal to them as all of the key elements of the genre come into play in their music. They do sport the corpse paint and as result are visually extreme as well. Bassist Wrath is quite the ominous presence as well and keeps the audience on edge while they perform. It's great when the opening act comes on with such force and focus and keeps the audience with them as opposed to being a group that finds everyone still wandering in the venue or going up to the bar for. Averse Sefira while not a new act, is one of the rising stars in Black Metal and you would do well to pay some attention to them.
Belphegor: While I was familiar with the music of Belphegor I had never seen them perform until the band came over here to do shows with Unleashed and Krisium early in 2007. To my knowledge the band had never been over in the states for touring until the Danzig "Blackest Of The Black" tour that went down in late 2006, but since I didn't attend that particular event I am not 100% sure if it was the bands official debut to the region. The band hails from Austria and was formed back in 1993 believe it or not and they are fronted by the very imposing Helmuth who handles both vocals and guitar. Serpenth is on bass and unfortunately their other guitarist and founder Sigurd would not be around based on an injury to his eye earlier in the year. I did not catch the other names of the guys who played guitar and drums but needless to say they clearly knew the bands material and were delivering it like they had been doing so for quite some time. Belphegor had a really strong contingent of fans in the crowd tonight and the guys mix up the genres as a Blackened Death Metal band that uses its strong anti-Christian and anti-life imagery to better appease the sinister powers that be and their following in the venue. The band had signed to Nuclear Blast Records for "Pestapokalypse VI" and was just completing their run of touring for the album. Definitely considered as road warriors, Belphegor had put themselves through their paces to bring the recording to as many places as possible. On the completion of the Rotting Christ tour, Belphegor would be unleashing their next studio effort "Bondage Goat Zombie" on the world and I am sure that it will find a lot of hungry Metal fans devouring anything in their path to get to it. I had to say that Belphegor went over tonight as if they were a headliner themselves and while this is the case in some of the European countries they visit, it is great to witness when a band that is second in on the tour roster comes off as strong as they did. It's safe to say that Belphegor has not finished their business in the USA just yet so we will most definitely see them soon.
Immolation: New York's own masters of the Death Metal genre would come up next and I had the most experience in their sound and admit that of all the bands performing this evening that I was most excited to find them on the bill. I was a little surprised that for the New York City show that we didn't find Immolation at the top of the bill considering they are from the region as we often see swaps of main band status on these co-headlining shows. It would have been a nice touch and with no offense to Rotting Christ at all because there had to be an equal amount of ardent support in the room tonight. The Yonkers natives would be the only non-Black Metal band performing tonight and while they are crushing bunch of Death dealers they don't go about it in the same fashion as most of the bands of this type that we see today. There is a denser musicality going on in Immolation stuff and while it pummels you and prompts you to get that circle pit moving they also manage to impress you with a lot of the overall technique that they had honed since they groups beginning back in 1991. The crowd was lucky to be treated to a nice long set that featured many of their revered numbers but also a set that showcased their latest slab of Metal "Shadows In The Light" which comes to us care of Century Media Records. The bands vocals are handled by bassist Ross Dolan and he is really "into" it as the set progresses. His bass is thunderous and he really moves about the stage a lot when he doesn't have to be directing his fury into the microphone. The performance was electric and the whole room was a sea of movement during it which I liked seeing since they were home town players and when Dolan took the time to speak to the crowd he thanked everyone for supporting them for as many years as they had. I think the next time we see Immolation touring and hitting this venue that it will be as a headliner with some solid support because they just went over too good for this not to be the case. Check out their latest album when you can.
Rotting Christ: As the moment for Rotting Christ came to fruition I had the clear revelation that I knew next to nothing about them barring their hailing from Greece and being somewhat of the pioneers for Black Metal in that region, and also from their coming into the news when Megadeth's Dave Mustaine refused to perform on a festival if the band appeared. Mustaine had recently become a Born Again Christian and the bands name alone was what seemed to lead to his decision. So tonight I was very curious about the band and discussed them with those around me who said that the earlier bands were definitely a lot thrashier than how Rotting Christ would be and when the band began I had to agree. The group is led and fronted by Sakis Tolis, who sings and plays the guitar and also features his brother Themis on drums while Giorgos Bokos and Andreas Lagios handle guitar and bass accordingly. Musically, this was a very groove laden type of Black Metal and there were samples of keyboards playing as well which added additional elements of atmosphere to their sound. I had to admit that I was enjoying myself very early on which is not always the case with my seeing a band for the very first time. Sakis was great as the bands front man spokesperson as well, and he continually addressed the crowd who responded in kind for whatever directive he had. To my knowledge the band had not toured in this region for about nine years so the show was also a little bit of a welcome back as well for those who had followed them in the past. The band was tight and came off as very appreciative of the crowd in attendance tonight but their brand of Metal was certainly not as throttling as the bands who preceded them and as much as I liked what I was hearing I had to say that Immolation was a little tough to follow up in terms of overall sound and delivery. The bands latest album is "Theogonia" and some of the selections tonight would come from this release. The remainder of the set spanned a wider amount of the back catalog.
In the end I had felt that the "Lucifer Over America" did its job in satisfying the Dark Metal desires of the crowd and the venue was pretty crowded but not over packed for the show. There was room for the mosh pits to build and flow naturally without getting everyone involved or at least those who didn't want any part of that and instead chose to rock in one set place. The four bands worked well together and everyone had gone over well, while some did this in just a little better fashion. I could see myself attending another show with any of these groups in the future and hope that we don't have to wait too long for this to be the case. Horns up my fellow fiends of the darker side of Metal, may we all cross paths again.
Rotting Christ Set List
1. Thou Art Blind
3. Athanati Este
4. In Domine Sathana
5. The Sign Of Evil Existence
6. Enuma Elish
7. Non Seviam
8. King Of A Stellar War
9. Among Two Storms
10. Fgmenth,Thy Gift
11. Under The Name Of Legion
Official Web site: www.rotting-christ.com
Official Web site: www.
Official Web site: www.belphegor.at
Official Web site: www.aversesefira.com