Fresh off the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, Swedish black metallers Marduk teamed up with American death legends Incantation and Nice-based French outfit Svart Crown to put on a brutal show of metal mastery in Atlanta’s newly-renovated Heaven stage at The Masquerade. The storied venue, which recently moved to a new location, is a metal mecca with its fantastic stage lighting, crisp acoustics, and modern decor. I was especially excited to see Marduk after their last North American tour got canceled due to visa problems.
Openers Svart Crown took the stage and immediately unleashed a brand of blackened death metal that is fresh and original. The French quartet led by frontman and guitarist JB Le Bail produced some of the most diverse composition I have heard in the genre in a long time, at once blending furious blast beats with simple melodies and mid-tempo rhythm sections sure to make the most academic metal fan headbang like a possessed soul.
In addition to the impressive composition, the band executed with precision and provided plenty of stage presence, all hallmarks of a band on top of their game. The band also managed to pull the early crowd to them like a magnet and I would be surprised if they didn’t walk away from tonight’s show with a host of new fans. The band members were also extremely cordial and mingled with the crowd at the merchandise desk. The current tour supporting Incantation and Marduk should do wonders for Svart Crown’s promotion of their latest album Abreaction, which is out now on Century Media.
Next up were Incantation, one of the pioneers of the New York City death metal scene in the 1980s. As expected, the band ripped through their set with incredible stamina and precision despite suffering a couple of broken strings along the way (don’t worry, they still kicked ass in true metal-god fashion!). The band put together a strong setlist consisting of material old and new in their signature mid-tempo death-and-doom style. Of particular note were the crunchy guitars and thumping bass that came through the speakers. I was especially impressed with John McEntee’s vocals—err, let me rephrase, I have always been impressed with John McEntee’s vocals, but hearing him roar live is awe-inspiring and makes Incantation one of the most respected old-skool death metal acts out there.
The awesome performance made me want to go over their entire catalog, which, given their tenure, could take me a few months to do. The band ended their set amid cries of “play one more song,” perfectly reflecting the sentiment on the floor. If you haven’t done so, do yourself a favor and check out any Incantation album. You will not be disappointed.
It’s been a strange winter here in Atlanta with day-time temperatures resembling early spring. I was expecting, more like hoping, the good weather would bring out a good proportion of Atlanta’s metal community. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and by the time Marduk walked on stage, the floor was far from being packed. Nevertheless, Mortuus and company put on an impressive show filled with energy and bone-crushing war-metal.
The band kicked things off with the title track to their 2015 release, Fronstchwein. Following the formidable performance with The Blond Beast from the same album, the band set the tone for the rest of the night—lots of metal with very little chatter in between. Although they covered both old and new material in their hour-long set, my personal favorite of the night was the opener with its Eastern-influenced single-string melody coupled with Fredrik Widigs’s blast beats producing one of the most epic tunes of the night.
One thing I’ve always admired about Marduk is their minimum-bullshit-maximum-music attitude, which is evident in everything they do, including band members doing their own final soundchecks before taking the stage. In addition to the badass performance, the band also come across as incredibly humble and hard-working, both on stage and off of it, and that work ethic really comes through in their live performances.
Overall, this was an epic night of music and I truly had a blast watching and listening to all three bands. The lineup was most definitely well put-together with each band offering something unique to the audience. The only downside to the night was the disappointing turnout, which may have been due to the pouring rain that started halfway through the show.