The dark would come alive on January 10th at B.B. King Blues Club for it was the evening that Black Metal legends most supreme, Dark Funeral would arrive in New York City for the "Candlelight II: Phoenix Rising" tour. They would be the main act of three from the label roster and be joined by the also legendary Viking Metal masters Enslaved as well as rising stars Abigail Williams. Without question, the fans of Metal were going to get their money's worth tonight. Here are some of the details on the event from Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce!
Abigail Williams: The first band up would be a new signing to Candlelight Records, a five-piece Extreme Metal band from Arizona (yes, intense Metal can even come from the desert). The club was filling up rather nicely when they took the stage and for their first time in New York, the group did not seem fazed or nervous about their set. As I understood, their EP was just recently available and was on sale for those who enjoyed what the band was bringing to life tonight. Abigail Williams has a good overall sound to their Metal, and like some other Black Metal acts make use of the keyboards during the songs. Delivered in earnest by a young lady named Ellyllon, they are not overly Symphonic like one sees in Dimmu Borgir and some others, but instead seem to use them very well alongside the guitar riffs and vocals. I found them to also be very classically based. Vocalist Ken Sorceron growls his way through all of the material in true Extreme fashion and I found him to be a solid presence on stage as well. There is some cool riffing going on with the guitars and this made the band not some run of the mill opener that you end up dreading for the whole set. The band themselves were not too sure that the audience enjoyed them, which they mentioned to me after they finished, and they were basing this on some of the reaction they heard from the stage. From where I was standing there were applause and yells of approval and in a venue that was not allowing any sort of moshing one can expect the response to not seem as resounding. I also stressed that this was not an easy bill to open as its not often we find Enslaved and Dark Funeral on the same show. They do have promise, and I will be watching out to bring you the latest as it happens.
Enslaved: Enslaved returned to the States after several years absence and with this show would be supporting not one but two killer recordings. The album Ruun is their most recent, and is receiving large amounts of critical acclaim while the other Isa is referenced as an overall masterpiece. I admit that I was looking forward more to Enslaved than Dark Funeral as I loved those two albums . They were actually the ones that made me a fan of the bands music. Sadly, I was not aware of them from the very beginning. The Vikings were ready for New York tonight as leader Grutle Kjellson raised the high horns in praise and approval of the now packed venue. It seemed as though many knew the words tonight and were singing along with him, and while the singer tried to remain stoic in this it was hard not to smile back at the crowd for this sort of response. As I expected, the set would focus more on their latter material and it is music that takes a larger progressive turn than some of their older fans might have expected the band to take. However, the group successfully managed to blend their own formula of Viking & Black Metal and adapt it to Progressive elements that worked very well. I'm excited as a fan of darker veins of music and progressive things when important groups mold to certain changes. I feel this keeps them fresh and interesting and allows a larger audience to enjoy them going forward. It is by no means selling out when your material and subject matter is still as dark and as ominous as it always was. Enslaved were also incredibly tight this evening and sounded as close to the recording as a band like this can. Guitarists Ivar and Arve were excellent while drummer Cato pounded on a massive kit. Keyboardist Herbrand seemed content in his corner and was rather difficult to see with all the flashing cameras going off from the pit and the audience. I did feel their set was a little short, and would have enjoyed the chance to hear some more from them but they still satisfied and no one seemed too disappointed. The venue was like a Summer's day now and as soon as it was clear Enslaved was done, many headed outside for a breather before the main event of Dark Funeral would take place.
Dark Funeral: As they began setting up the dramatic stage décor for Dark Funeral, I was convinced that I was going to see perhaps the most imposing band that I had ever seen. Yes, I had covered 1349 when they opened for the legendary Celtic Frost and they were pretty intense themselves, but Dark Funeral is something that I don't think many people can handle. Founded in 1993, this is Black Metal pure and simple. It is possibly the darkest and most Satanic of all the other bands that claim to be so and bring similar styles to their fans. All around the audience you could see that the faces were done up in the corpse paint that Dark Funeral are known to perform in, and the stage was now set with images that definitely showed that the band was not to be taken lightly. They took their subject matter to heart visually as well as lyrically. To say that the feeling of dread overcame me when the lights went down and the intro tape began would be an understatement. The chants from the audience were definitely in line with the bands song topics and the essence from the stage was just scary and evil. They arrived like returning Dark Gods and stood poised with horns up as the audience fed them the necessary energies to give a truly killer set. I had thought that Lord Ahriman had an intense gaze when I looked up at him until I found myself focused on their singer Emperor Magus Caligula who was a hurricane of Black Metal force tonight. Having a very limited background in their material, I was judging their set list and its approval by the reactions of the fans in my immediate spot. As song after song was announced, the crowd was screaming louder and louder so I would assume that it was a very solid selection from their back catalog. Dark Funeral is definitely one of the more pure of the Black Metal groups around as they don't use the keyboards and instead compensate with twin razor sharp guitar dueling of Ahriman and Chaq Mol. Drummer Matte Modin was on top of it all, didn't lose a second of his blast beating, and proves ever more why so many of these Metal drummers are so impressive. They are the most super human of any band lineup and are to be complimented for their abilities. The bands touring bassist B-Force pretty much just stayed to the far corner and did his thing. He would occasionally glare at the photogs when they were within his gaze. Caligula himself was like a demon set free and fortunately one that would remain on the stage and he really seemed capable of having this audience do whatever he deemed necessary. A powerful presence on stage to say the very least. I have to say that this was not an easy night to put behind you because the intensity that was let loose during the Dark Funeral set was unlike any I have seen previously. Of course, the lack of moshing was disturbed by a few who did not adhere to the warning signs and they were removed almost immediately from the venue and not allowed to return. It might have been weird for the band to see this but still the show is about enjoying the music and letting it release your inner spirit. You can do that standing still and raising a fist and screaming the songs out at the top of your lungs without any unnecessary antics.
I'm sure tonight will go down in the memories of many Metal fans and while I did not have a final number for the attendance I would have to say it was close to 1000 and that's not all that bad to draw. While Enslaved has not been to the states in a couple of years, it has taken Dark Funeral over ten to return so they were not going to let you leave and not recall every second of what you witnessed.
Enslaved Set List
Path To Vanir
Fusion Of Sense And Earth
Bounded By Allegiance
Queen Of Night
Return To Yggdrasil
Dark Funeral Set List
Ravenna Strigoi Mortii
The Arrival Of Satan's Empire
Open The Gates
666 Voices Inside
Attera Totus Sanctus
The Secrets Of The Black Arts
Atrum Regina – encore
My Dark Desires – encore
An Apprentice Of Satan - encore
Official Web site: www.darfuneral.se
Official Web site: www.enslaved.no