(This is Andy Synn’s review of the performances by The Infernal Sea, Dawn Ray’d, and Underdark in Nottingham, UK, on November 17, 2017, accompanied by videos he made during the show.)
I’m not sure why, but this November has been absolutely jam-packed with gigs, so much so that I’ve had to be a little bit picky about what I go to, and when, simply because of all the different pressures on my time and attention (not to mention my wallet).
But there was no way I was going to miss this one, considering that between them Dawn Ray’d and The Infernal Sea have produced two of the best Black Metal albums of recent years.
Unfortunately due to the fact that I’m still suffering with a dose of the plague (something which I’m sure the headliners would undoubtedly approve) I didn’t make it to The Chameleon in time to catch openers Crimson Throne, but I was still there early enough to see local quintet Underdark deliver a solid set of moody melodic riffage and impressively nuanced drum work which, although somewhat lacking in atmosphere (often feeling more like peering in on one of the band’s practice sessions rather than a performance designed for an actual audience), still showed some real promise, and fans of similarly emotive Post-Black groups such as Deafheaven and An Autumn For Crippled Children would do well to check them out.
There was no lack of atmosphere in Dawn Ray’d’s set however (although the lack of bassist still bugs me ever so slightly) as, with little more than a single white light and a furiously impassioned performance, the three-piece turned what could have been an everyday gig into a proper show, mixing material from their 2015 EP A Thorn, A Blight and their recent full-length album The Unlawful Assembly into one impressively intense display of metallic grit and fiery conviction, concluding with a cathartic run-through of the anthemic “Strike Again the Hammer Sings!”
While way too many Black Metal bands – both in the UK and elsewhere – spend far too much time talking the talk, and not enough time walking the walk, when it comes to proving their metallic bona fides, The Infernal Sea have always been the sort of band to let their music, and their live show, do the talking for them. And tonight was no different.
Having fully embraced the more theatrical side of their nature – with every member apart from the drummer now performing in full length black robes, with the guitarist and bassist also wearing creepy vulturine plague masks, and the singer concealing his face behind a black mask emblazoned with the band’s diabolical sigil – the fiendish quartet delivered their entire set (which included numerous cuts from The Great Mortality plus both tracks from their recent Agents of Satan 7-inch) in nearly pitch darkness, with the only faint illumination provided by a single pestilent green light towards the rear of the stage. And while this certainly helped make the whole experience exceedingly immersive, it definitely didn’t help with my attempt at filming “Skinwalker” (as you can see below)!
Still, you can’t argue with the results, and (despite an oddly anticlimactic finale) tonight once again proved why The Infernal Sea are currently one of the leading lights of the UK Black Metal scene.