1349 + Ruins + Pestilential Shadows
Factory Theatre, Sydney
26 February 2016
Review by Gary Grim
In the lead up to Norway’s 1349 unleashing aural hellfire upon the gathered metalheads, we were treated to a live appearance from Sydney’s Pestilential Shadows. It had been a long time since these black metallers have graced a stage, but it became immediately apparent that this band has lost none of their spark in the live arena. Their music somehow strikes the perfect balance between the harsh, grim sound of black metal’s pioneers and the more epic, melodic qualities of some of the more modern bands of the genre. In my mind, the band’s sound placed them somewhere between early Darkthrone and Watain (before the whole Wild Hunt debacle) with a bleak DSBM edge. This dark sound combined with the leather, spikes and corpse paint bedecked image of the band provided the perfect opener for a show such as this.
The last time Sydney had a chance to see Ruins perform was at Abbath’s recent solo show. While their performance in support of Abbath was a highly enjoyable showcasing of some pure, nihilistic, mostly mid paced black metal, it seemed as though the band had a figurative fire lit under their collective arses during this performance. Like last time I saw them, they weren’t relying on always playing a million miles per hour at all time, although there were blastbeats strategically placed throughout their set. However, unlike last time I saw them, the slower sections within their music seemed to have a fresh, speedier energy to them with the impeccable drumming of Dave Haley bringing a more frantic pace to proceedings. Yet another fitting prelude to 1349.
Norwegian headliners 1349 were a force to be reckoned with from the word go, unrelenting until the very end of their set. Each member of the band was putting everything into their performance. Even though it was a little disappointing that 1349’s enigmatic drummer, Frost, was not present, Sondre Drangsland did a remarkable job off filling those rather big shoes. Secthdamon and Seidemann thrashed their way through the set with the former’s mass of hair in seemingly perpetual motion and the latter hidden within a large hooded cloak. Raven surely deserved his place as the frontman managing to whip the crowd into a frenzy between growls, screams and croaks, Whether the band were playing older songs such as Sculptor of Flesh or newer songs such as Slaves, they sounded tight and uncompromisingly heavy. Now that Australia has had a taste of what 1349 has to offer, here’s hoping they return soon.