Tonight's celebration is to mark the end of the epic touring cycle for Norwegian black 'n'roll masters Vreid's lastest opus, 'V'.
Opening up the event in the suitably frozen London are The Infernal Sea (7) and their aggressive take on a more 'pure' blackened sound. The brutal quartet may lack a bit of charisma on stage but they more than make up for it musically. Although some would argue the BM is more about producing the bleak atmosphere of evil and shrouding the venue in darkness than getting in your face. The Infernal Sea pack the frosty, fast riffing and the shrill cries of anguish that form the base of their harsh sound. Lone guitarist Jonathon Egmore has his style down to a tee and shows his understanding of composing blackened brilliance and expertise in tremolo picking. Drummer James Burke was also a standout with his tremendous pedal work and thunderous fills, destroying the front row of banging heads. The absolute pinnacle of the band was yet to come, because when I saw their album on sale, I was completely sold. It's a wonderfully crafted, hand-made and numbered work of genius. Designed as a booklet with various satanic imprints within, it's beautifully presented and a unique addition to any church-burners collection.
Next up are a band which ooze all of definitive metal qualities. Wretched Soul (7) get heads banging and bodies piling up in the pit with infectious grooves and bone crunching heaviness. Even though they haven't dropped an album yet, they are forging a solid reputation on the live circuit and showing off great material. The songs come from the heart and the fans really pick up on it by thrashing around like loons. Wretched Soul have been popping up frequently in high profile support slots and on many festival bills, it all helps to sculpt the metal machine from Canterbury. They are definitely a band that won't shy away from hard work; it is this grit and will to succeed that can grant bands like Wretched Soul their wish. Catch them when they inevitably are touring near you again.
Corpse paint clad, symphonic black metal warriors, The Furious Horde (8) are another band that are grinding out a strong reputation - having already slayed Bloodstock they jetted over to Slovenia to tear Metalcamp a new one. Despite the notable absence of a keyboardist, The Horde battle on valiantly by smashing through their new material that graces their latest release 'Reclaiming the Wasteland'. However older material such as the stomping 'Devil's Coachmen' still get heads banging and perfectly warms the crowd for our head line act. A strong blend of hellish black metal fury served with lashings of atmosphere are the order of the day. Armed with a new drummer, in the form of Koroner, the Essex based mob are seemingly ready to conquer the underground scene and step up to the next level.
Vreid (9) were always going to steal the show, after all this is their celebration and a glimpse back at their humble roots. After an incredibly tight display of their melting pot of influences, Vreid are left with the job of watching people chisel their jaws from the floor. They pack tunes from every era, but the highlights come when they introduce original guitarist Ese, who entered the fray when Windir was their moniker. Couple this with an appearance from the brother of the deceased Windir frontman Valfar and things start to get emotional. Music is a powerful outlet and Vegard Bakken does a great job whilst screaming through classic tracks that we may not hear for some time. Tonight marks the end of the long touring cycle for the album 'V' and grants the band a well deserved break, but frontman Sture assures us they will return soon. It may be sooner than we think, with a release date tentatively scheduled for early 2013. Vreid's blackened assault with a proggy, rock-driven undertones is lapped up by the London fans, I'm sure it is a sentiment shared by many of Europe's connoisseurs of the darker side of music.