You don’t get that often a good Swedish black metal band to stop in Bucharest for a concert, during a festival or while on tour. Last night, Grá stopped in my hometown for the Romanian leg of the A Coin for Charon Tour, a 9 days tour that will take them through several countries of Eastern Europe and 2 Greek dates.
Organized by Live Nation Promotions, the concert took place in Quantic, on the small terrace behind the club. Akral Necrosis was selected as an opening act and the evening promised to be a special one, 100% black metal.
The show was supposed to start at 20.30, but as it happens sometimes, a half an hour delay occurred out of nowhere so at 21.00 Akral Necrosis began their ferocious assault. I don’t remember when was the last time I saw them live, but I have to say the band sounds better than before.
They have matured and the fact they have been playing in the same formula for some time now brought them a much deserved “expertise” and strengthened their musical skills.
With Octav in a good shape as always, Akral delivered the goods from their soon to be released album Underlight and their previous works Pandemic Dominion and (Inter)Section, the split with Marchosias.
If I am not mistaken, the band played 5 new songs from the upcoming album that will be released by Loud Rage Music in October (King in Yellow, Sin Gauntlet, Hounds of Plague, Exhortatio ad Bellum and Saturnian Gallows). The other songs were Merchant of Flesh and Pandemic Dominion (from the 1st full length) and, as an encore, Separator, from the above mentioned split.
I really enjoyed their energetic show even if a small microphone problem prevented Damian‘s backing vocals to be heard properly, decreasing the intensity of some of the songs. Looking forward to listen to the new album, I am really curious to see what direction the band will head to in the future.
Unfortunately for our little extreme “movement”, Akral is one of the few black metal bands that can play straight in your face, quality black metal. In a scene suffocated by forest lovers and old school thrash metal kids, this band is a small flicker of hope I really wish will not die soon.
I have one personal advice I would like to share with the band because it’s been on my mind for quite some time. Guys, if you are doing this corpse paint stuff, for hell’s sake, then use it all together or not use it all. It’s a pity to have 3 guys ready for war while the other 2 seem to be from another picture. If you chose to use this kind of outfit, then use it all the way. You know as well as I do that for a black metal band the visual aspect is very important.
After Akral Necrosis‘s show, the change over begun and, 20 minutes later, Grá walked on the little stage. Wearing corpse paint and specific black metal outfits, the 5 Swedes delivered a strong set of pure Scandinavian black metal. Not as atmospheric and melancholic as on the records, their music sounded raw, agressive and went straight to my heart.
Heljarmadr is a good vocalist and frontman, no wonder Dark Funeral chose him as their new growler. Rope and bones around his neck, he played a role on that stage, and he did it really good.
Praising Charon, Death and the journey to the afterlife, Grá managed to create a creepy atmosphere which transported me through several landscapes.
Too bad it was disrupted a couple of times by some idiots who thought that crowd surfing is good during a black metal concert, so they lifted a girl over their heads, moving her around like a log. One free advice: fuckin’ listen to the band before coming to the show, to see what the music is about, do not assume that what goes for a thrash/core/punk concert goes for black metal as well. I’m sick and tired of stupid kids behaving like assholes just because they saw that on youtube.
Back to the show: Again, some issues with the voice came up during the show, but eventually they were fixed and everything went on as planned. The set list was very diverse, going for over an hour through all their releases, from Helfard to Ending. We even had the chance to hear a brand new song, performed live only for the second time on this tour, which will be featured on the band’s new release.
Since Grim Vindkall (Domgard) was not able to join them for this tour, he was replaced by Natt on bass guitar. I must admit I was amazed how clearly the bass sounded last night, you could hear it almost every time, like a haunting presence behind the wall of guitar riffs.
At some point I moved to a side, watching these musicians at work and I was dumbstruck how easy and simple (extreme) music can be sometimes. Years of practice, recording, touring, all make this a very pleasant job when and if you have the dedication and the “spirit” for it.
Towards the end, Andreas “Heljarmadr” came up with a big noose which he put around his neck and eventually threw it into the audience. The band has created a strong connection between the visual aspects and the musical parts, combining them in a very simple way, avoiding the trendy parts that are so common in black metal nowadays: candles, skulls, hooded robes, grimoires etc. They seemed like they were frozen in time, somewhere in the mid 90’s, with spikes, chains, leather and black jeans. After all, this is what Grá is all about: true Scandinavian black metal.
Some of the songs that I recognized last night were Worms and Crows, A Coin for Charon, Necrology of the Witch, Kraft, Offerrok, Doden Ser Doden Tar, He Who Comes, Where Shadows Dwell, Klagan Och Langtan and Helfard (att do), the first part of the Helfard trilogy.
Overall, apart those minor things I mentioned above, this was a really great, black metal night, a night I wish we could have more often. Lots of merchandise, a perfect location and an indoor hall that seems to be THE best venue for the upcoming cold and hopefully rainy season.
See you on Tuesday, 20.IX, same place, different bands: 2 Wolves, SVOID and Abysmal Grief. Hail Death!