Review by Stephen Pedicino
Let’s just say that I was nothing less than ebullient when this tour was announced. I’d been yearning for Dimmu and Behemoth to make their returns to North America ever since they came last year. When I learned they were both coming together, I promised to impale myself if I missed them! Wishing to avert my suicide, I ended up driving three long hours to Columbus to behold this monumental package. They are two of the most revered bands of their genres and combining them spawned what would be the most pulsating, Anti-Christian carnage my mind has ever absorbed at a concert.
Me and my good friend Max arrived at the Newport around 7:45 on a pleasantly cool Saturday evening. Unsurprisingly, a megaphone-toting preacher was throwing all types of warnings and Christian propaganda towards the blasphemous heathens standing in line(great comedic value). I drove by him in my silver Chevy Impala, which (I shit you not) was incidentally captured on film by someone waiting to get inside. That’s right, I’ve achieved celebrity status!!! (http://youtube.com/watch?v=ReQ-A7_1ZTU)
When I finally got up to the venue after I parked, the Jesus freak was thankfully gone. I figured that he either gave up or was convinced to come inside and enjoy the show. Anyway, Keep of Kalessin were already into their second or third song when this stylish pimp from Cleveland arrived inside. Although I’ve heard worse, the sound quality really wasn’t there. Much of their performance sounded blaringly raw and indecipherable. That’s not something I can blame the band for though. But, what they lacked in audible clarity was compensated for by an excellent stage presence. I can tell Keep of Kalessin have studied art of the synchronized headbang that Behemoth seems to have perfected so well.
After a half hour set, the black-hearted Norwegians waved goodbye. They’re a prospective band and were an excellent choice for the role on this tour. I was upset that their sound sucked but they were nonetheless powerful. Another twenty minutes pass and I began to hear Inferno warming up with his kit. Just hearing his soundcheck sends shivers up my spine! Another ten minutes and everything was checked and tuned. The stage goes black, Nergal comes out to an ecstatic crowd and shouts “Slave Shall!......,” which the crowd promptly completed with…….. “SERVE!!!” A known favorite, “Slaves Shall Serve” ripped through the hall like a storm and displayed to Columbus what Behemoth is all about.
The second song, “At the Left Hand ov God,” had never been played live before so I was eager to see how it would unfurl. It’s got quite a few tempo changes and is noticeably different from most other songs Behemoth play live. It turned out to be phenomenally epic. Mid-paced, but just as gripping as any other song that night.
No surprises in the setlist really. They played eight songs, all of which were featured on their last tour with the exception of “At the Left Hand ov God.” Three from ‘Demigod,’ three from ‘The Apostasy,’ and then “As Above So Below,” and “Chant for Eschaton 2000.”
I must say their performance didn’t quite match the one I saw in Cleveland last November. Of course that’s understandable considering this wasn’t a headlining tour. Hence, the inverted crosses, bible ripping, and gripping intro were absent. The sound was decent, but for some reason Nergal’s guitar was having problems all night. Things actually got so bad that by the time their last song, “Chant for Eschaton 2000,” began, his axe was completely dead. SO dead that he came out on stage without it. Fortunately, he was wearing the Apostasy mask so he still managed to look menacing. He retrieved his guitar during the second half of the song hoping that things were revived, but to no avail. Embarrassingly, the guitar tech comes out right as the song was finishing(the most dramatic part may I mind you). He’s on stage reaching in and fondling Nergal’s input jack as the climax arrives……Ugh.
I hope heads rolled for the incident. But still, the performance was excellent and the crowd made sure their professionalism was appreciated as they went off stage. Behemoth are just so tenacious live that its impossible NOT to enjoy them. Just watching them headbang makes me dizzy.
Next up…Dimmu Borgir!
After Behemoth, Max and I inched our way into the oncoming stream of sable-cloaked metalheads of Columbus. I was surprised that so many people dispersed, but I sure as hell wasn’t about to complain about the extra space. Ten minutes into our mingling up front and the drum set and keyboards are unveiled. It always makes me chuckle a bit when the crowd roars at the unveiling. I mean, were they expecting water coolers? Tupperware perhaps?
But enough small talk. The lights dim, the intro starts, and my eyes and ears are immediately arrested. Two priests enter the stage from both sides, converging at a set of stairs while swinging chambers of incesnse. A minute later, Dimmu emerge to a deafening roar and promptly take their place. Tony Laureano, known from bands such as Nile and Angelcorpse, was chosen to replace the injured Hellhammer for the tour. I’m not sure how good he looks in the facepaint, but he’s VERY fast and technical which makes him an excellent choice to fill the role. Shagrath lastly egresses at the top of the steps as a blazing sun appears on the screen behind him. Chilling, dark, but ever so artistically choreographed. THIS is Dimmu Borgir. I can assure you that every heart at the Newport was gripped at this point. The intro then crashed into the opener, “Spellbound.” I knew the concert would officially kill.
The first Invaluable Darkness Tour featured a very predictable array of songs, not to say that I was disappointed by them. The setlist for this installment of the tour was considerably different, which is something I appreciate. I know some people want to see the classics performed over and over again, but I feel that Dimmu represented themselves more fully this time around by playing songs like “The Blazing Monoliths of Defiance,” and “The Maelstrom Mephisto.”. But, despite the addition of some unexpected older songs, about half of the setlist was comprised of tracks from their latest release, “In Sorte Diaboli.” That might seem like a lot, and it was…but every song of the night was enjoyable.
Shagrath truly shined I must say. His voice was without a crack the entire night and his inflections were right on key. He did a good job at getting the crowd involved and maintaining the evil throughout the night. Silenoz and Galder hit every note just as it sounds on the recording….flawless. Vortex also performed his vocal parts excellently and demonstrated good charisma in the process. The keys of Mustis also came through very clear, contrary to the last tour where they seemed almost muted
Unfortunately, Dimmu have never played with an overwhelming physical energy. That is something I understand and accept based on previous tours. It would only be a problem if their musicianship was lacking, which it obviously doesn’t and more than adequately compensates for the rather stationary demeanor on stage.
The lighting and visual aspects were nothing less than spectacular. The colors and cascade effects seemed to match the energy of each song and added an icing on this anti-Christian black metal cake of ours.
They played roughly a dozen songs, then galloped off stage as our raging crowd chanted “Borgir! Borgir!” After three minutes of imploring, the encore came(big surprise). They proceeded to play the two songs you will ABSOLUTELY ALWAYS hear at a Dimmu show every single time. “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse,” which I slyly recorded a video of (http://youtube.com/watch?v=GHp-D8HG6yY), and “Mourning Palace.” I ran up just as Dimmu finished the last song, hoping to get a little souvenir, but I should have known better. The guy next to me snagged a drumstick but was quickly tackled by some asshole who apparently needed to anally pleasure himself with it more than anyone else in the crowd. The asshole grabs the guys stick and proceeds to drag him around the floor until a security guard broke things up. Freagin’ ridiculous!!! But anyway, it was an amazing night and one of the most memorable performances I could ever bare witness to.
All Hail the Invaluable Darkness!!!