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Beyond The Gates V live review – Garage, Bergen, Norway

Live Review

Venue: Garage, Bergen, Norway

Bergen's underground extravaganza, Beyond The Gates, reads its last rites. Read our live review here...

THURSDAY

Both a marker point and a signal for a new era, Beyond The Gates is celebrating its fifth anniversary by announcing it’s about to shed its skin once more. Having risen from the ashes of Hole In The Sky this smaller, more arcane offspring has moulded itself to the occult contours of the underground. BTG had long become a gathering point built around a close-knit, welcoming community. But continuity is achieved through transformation, and next year BTG will carry on as Bjørgvin Black Mass.

This year’s show goes on, however, with Canadian duo SORTILEGIA [6] entering a dimly lit stage, the candles intermittently revealing a blood-covered face beneath the frontwoman’s cowl. If you’re a two-piece, you need to be more than the sum of your parts, and as the riffs rise and fall between mesmerising and monotonous, they lack the ear-bleeding overload of a Bölzer or an Inquisition. Wringing harried, bug-eyed magick from a very urban take on black metal, New York’s BLACK ANVIL [8] look like a biker gang after a tussle with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but they’re less a call to ancient entities than paranoia-warped personal exorcism as guitars scrabble and surge, frontman PD gargles his desperate screeds and the band uncover moments of spellbinding cavernous dynamics.

The left-hand path and label Ván Records are often entwined, URFAUST [8] a case in point. Another two-piece, but one whose combined effect is one of beguiling, often sublime disorientation. Their elevated mutation from the howl-in-the-woods black metal template is a mantric ritual, IX’s switching into open-throated, resonant vibrato like a fishing line cast into the void in a room full of devotees. Just as synapse-searing, but with a coruscating emotional weight, SECRETS OF THE MOON [9] have also taken black metal into new dimensions, the stripped-down nature of earlier material bending reality to its incensed will, but it’s the yet-more gothic-tinged tracks from last year’s Sun that are most devastating.

Overshadowed perhaps by the various wranglings of Gorgoroth, Gaahl’s first band, Trelldom is still the most revered of his projects and tonight his latest manifestation, GAAHLS WYRD [9], devotes an entire set to their back catalogue. Opener Steg is a tantric rush, a continuous crescendo that floods all senses, and from here on in they colonise an icily exhilarating spectrum of black metal. Gaahl’s presence, especially up so close, is still untouchably imposing, that death-stare/horns-point making you feel like a chosen disciple, his voice itself a elemental force of nature ranging from imperious incantations to elemental screech and various, entrancing points in between.

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