Live Gig Review and Photos by: Zenae Zukowski
April has become quite a busy month filled with back to back Metal shows where mornings in the office could feel a bit more exhausting than usual. When an iconic artist comes into a city near you, there is no other option but to attend and deal with the consequences and lack of sleep later. The legendary Abbath, who was the vocalist for the notorious Norwegian Black Metal band Immortal, created a solo act of his own and entitled this project Abbath. Recently he released the self-titled album Abbath, which hit early enough for fans across North America, could have a listen to before Abbath hit the road on the Decibel Magazine tour. The tour landed in New York City on Tuesday, April 12th at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom. All hell was about to break loose as the night carried out different sounds in Metal with acts High on Fire, Skeletonwitch, and Tribulation for direct support.
Opening the gates of vampiric doom were the Swedish Death Metal band, Tribulation. Continuing to support 2015’s The Children of the Night as they brought this horror to the stage with them. The platform was barely lit as these Metal creatures gazed into the crowd with a thirst for blood stare. I was drawn to their set as though I was being summoned to join the blackened abyss as songs “Strange Gateways Beckon,” “Melancholia” and “Rånda” erupted. The performance was short as they ended with “Ultra Silvam” and “Holy Libations,” however, I hope they come around again. This is a band that will terrify your soul, where your eyes are glued to the performance as this horror act will make you only beg for more.
The evening shifted to more of a headbanging enjoyment when the Ohio Thrash-Black Metal act Skeletonwitch hit the stage. Many have questioned the band’s future after vocalist Chance Garnette left the group. However, recently the band recruited Wolvhammer’s vocalist Adam Clemens as the frontman and released the EP The Apothic Gloom that includes his vocals. Despite the different sound and look on the stage, the set consisted of twelve brutal tracks. The set consisted of songs “I Am Death (Hell Has Arrived),” “From a Cloudless Sky,” “Burned from Bone,” “Upon Wings of Black,” “Choke Upon Betrayal,” “Well of Despair,” “This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill),” “Beyond the Permafrost,” “Unending, Everliving,” and “Black Waters,” and “Serpents Unleashed.” The set closed with “Beneath Dead Leaves” leaving with a satisfied crowd.
I would never imagine that the Sludge-Doom Metal act High on Fire would be under direct support for the Black Metal legend Abbath but it happened, and it worked well. It was last June in 2015 when they released their seventh studio masterpiece of Luminiferous and are continuing to support this release. Anyone can get lost during High on Fire’s performance, as Matt Pike casually walked onto the stage without a shirt. I love this careless attitude where it is only about the performance and music. The energy that they spread to the crowd was filled with their Bluesy influence and lengthy guitar hooks. The set included songs “The Black Plot,” “Carcosa,” “Rumors of War,” “Speedwolf,” “Slave the Hive,” “The Falconist,” “Cometh Down Hessian,” “Fertile Green,” “Blood from Zion” and they saved hell for last with “Snakes for the Divine.”
Finally, all bets were off when Abbath walked onto the platform. At first, Abbath casually and hysterically entered the stage before the official announcement. It looked as though he was saying a simple, “Hey, what’s up?” to everyone. Shortly after he realized he wasn’t supposed to be revealed just yet, he disappeared as the official introduction soon followed. On this night, it was as though Abbath himself cast a spell into the crowd with a gathering fog hitting the stage for fans to reawaken their own immortalized mayhem. Known for the corpse painted face as he continues to reveal his soul on his own flesh for over 25 years. The set ignited with his latest solo tracks of “To War!” and “Winterbane,” and I knew these two were going to please many moshers.
Abbath could do whatever he wants on the stage, as everyone including myself remained in a trance during the classic Immortal track of “Nebular Ravens Winter” and “Warriors” from his I project 2006’s Between Two Worlds. Moving back with the newer tunes of “Ashes of the Damned” and “Fenrir Hunts” as the audience continued to rock out. The music satanically fled with tracks throughout Abbath’s career including “Tyrants,” “One By One,” “Count the Dead,” “Solarfall” and “Root of the Mountain” and closing with the Immortal classic “All Shall Fall.” As Abbath and his band left the stage, fans begged for more where shortly after he casually entered again as though he was there taking a quick smoke break. Abbath looked into the audience and blatantly asked: “do you really want to hear more of this shit?” The crowd echoed in screaming approval as Abbath continued and said, “you got it” where the set closed with the well-known Immortal song “In My Kingdom Cold.”
After this performance, it was guaranteed that many fans have destroyed their bodies that night. Headbanging, moshing and letting loose was what happened, and the physical pain was well worth it.