Gig Review – Aeternum Vale, Malthusian, Behemoth, December 11th, The Academy

The expected Polish invasion of Abbey St was disrupted by the bad weather yesterday: with all ferries across the Irish Sea cancelled, Behemoth’s fellow countrymen Decapitated were stranded in the UK with their support bands Grand Magus and Wintefylleth. Decapitated were a big draw to this gig, and though I’ve seen them before at a festival, I’d like to see them in a smaller, club environment.

Local bands Aeternum Vale and Malthusian were brought on board to fill up the bill – Aeternum Vale play compelling melodic black metal – lots of distorted trebly tremolo guitars. Their soundcloud is definitely worth a look.

Malthusian, made up of members of other noted Irish bands like Wreck of the Hesperus, Mourning Beloveth, and the celebrated Altar of Plagues, impressed me by soundchecking not in the conventional manner – checking each instrument in order – but rather playing 30-second sections of extreme heaviness and shouting a few instructions to the sound engineer. They further won me when the bassist warmed up by playing the opening chords to Tool’s “Schism”, and following up to my enthusiastic shout of “WOO TOOL!” with the next few bars. Their music is extremely heavy doomy death metal – fairly short riffs, but repeated at length for a meditative effect. It’s music you can easily space out to, but that’s in no way a criticism. There’s some interesting metric stuff happening in a few of their tracks.
I have two criticisms of their set last night. First of all, the sound wasn’t great at first, though it got better after a few songs. Second of all, there were a few guys in the crowd who need to realise that three people does not make a mosh pit. If no-one except you and your two friends are dancing, you’re just being an ass.

Behemoth are about as metal as they come. It’s not just on stage either; frontman Nergal (he has legally changed his name from Adam Darski) was not only put on trial for blasphemy , but he turned up in court wearing a Watain t-shirt.


He’s the one sitting in the back.


He’s also a bit of a celebrity in his native Poland, appearing as a judge on the Polish version of TV show The Voice, and was for a while engaged to Doda, a mainstream popstar in the vein of Lady Gaga. If you wanted to use this as evidence that Nergal was not the real deal, Doda was also tried (and actually convicted) for blasphemy. Nergal is metal. (And Doda has at least one good song.)

Behemoth’s blackened death metal was a perfect end to the night. I don’t know their music well enough to have recognised all the songs, but their mix of grinding heaviness with breakneck death metal entertained regardless. They opened their set with “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” from most recent album The Satanist. This was a bold move; its success and status as a fan favourite would normally suggest it would be put nearer the end. Nergal’s disdain for religion was evident, and he denounced Poland’s anti-blasphemy laws before singing early track “Christians to the Lions”. No doubt where his opinions lie. Their  set was pure theater, but taken utterly seriously rather than camp. Nergal arrived on stage with burning torches, halfway through their set appeared with a censer and burned incense over the crowd, and the band ended their appearance wearing black antlered masks like the ones in the video for Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.

I’m still waiting for someone to write that Behemoth/Jane Austen fan fiction about the handsome Mr. Darski.

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