(pics by dave ingham)

I like my black like I like my coffee.  Not particularly often, in small concentrated doses, but when there’s a high quality selection I’ll usually fill my boots.  So this eclectic collection of the dark extremes of metal fitted the bill for me, a European package tour gathering bands of interest and justifying a hefty ticket price, especially for me as Svartidaudi had been one of the most impressive in the genre encountered in recent years.  I had seen them and Bolzer before in the blazing sunshine of a field in East Germany before (see review), a grim club in Manchester would be an interesting contrast

Could be last visit to Sound Control, with it due to close by Xmas apparently in the swathe of destruction gentrifying this grotty but historic corner of Oxford Road.  Arrive half way through The Swiss openers, Eggs of Gomorhh who I know nothing of, but caught enough to be pretty impressed with their abrasively heavy blackened death, powerful relentless raw attack.  So much stunning music is coming from Iceland at the moment but Svartidaudi (above) definitely hold their own among them.  Initially they are lacking the volume to impact properly but once this is sorted you can really get swept away with the complex, progressive heaviness.  The two guitars interweave structures that can leave you in a dissonant torrent of horror, but the structures also keep you captivated, especially when topped with the frontman’s cavernous roar for the well-paced vocals.

It’s pretty amazing that Bolzer (below) (also from Switzerland) achieve similar levels of intensity despite only being a guitar and drums two-piece.  Fair play, that guitar is 10 string and whatever channel and amp splitting is going on definitely achieves a solid and grand sound.  With their new material they have seemingly headed to a more epic style, but without losing some of the charge and harshness too.  The vocals hold a good range, from deranged to brutal, and ultimately it’s a captivating performance.

While I didn’t know much of Archgoat (top) beyond to expect some stripped down retro stylings, they were a surprisingly entertaining and all-encompassing trawl of ultra-heaviness.  A lot of faffing before their start, and then the Finn’s looking a little lifeless/lost on stage, but the sheer catchiness of their simple and primitive death/doom/black riff monger can’t help but bring satisfaction.  Aided by an extra layer of sampled atmospherics and sewer-dwelling from another member lurking behind the amp stacks, this was a great end to a great collection, good to see it well supported here too.