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Friday, 7 July 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Agrona, Levitas, Tides Of Sulfur, Trolls In The Mist & Sepulchre

Agrona, Levitas, Tides Of Sulfur, Trolls In The Mist, Sepulchre, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

It's finally come, this was Agrona's first date on their first headline tour of the UK, their main support for the tour was Levitas but in Cardiff they brought on board three more local bands in what was an extreme metal showcase. Each band were individual in sound and style which meant that there was something for everyone, providing you like being shouted at for four hours! With a flagon of Road Crew in hand it was time to head in for the first band

Sepulchre (7) were up first, they are an old school thrash/death three piece from Swansea with riffs galore. They really went at it considering they are an opening act and even though they played to a small crowd which was disappointing as they deserve more, they built a crunchy groove on Kill Me but most of their sound sat in the Slayer/Kreator camp start stop riffs and blitzkrieg soloing with touches of grindcore thrown in for good measure. They were a little chaotic between then songs but hey you can afford to be as an opening band, they get a nod of appreciation too for bringing a white t-shirt in their merch.

Next up came the absurdly named Trolls In The Mist (7) who were a pagan black metal band who based their sound around blisteringly fast riffs and, grunted vocals and songs about orcs, trolls and mythical creatures in general. Painted faces and songwriting put them firmly in the clutches of Kampfar or Drudkh, hell their song Battle Troll was even growled in Orcish. Noisey and evil sounding Trolls In The Mist counteracted Sepulchre's more classic approach well.

After two lots of fury it was time for a more ambient but yet still ground levelling heaviness the four piece of Levitas (8) took to the stage with both guitarist Rhys and bassist Liam providing the vocals the music was atmospheric, bleak and desolate it's keening post metal built on discordant metallic passages and dual roared vocals. The loud/quiet dynamic worked really well with more ambient passages seguing nicely into the blasts of total chaos. Musically they are similar to Alcest or Ghost Bath relying on technical instrumentals and vocals that blended into the chaotic soundscapes as another instrument rather than as an individual element, Levitas were a key element of the eclectic nature of this line up with probably the most varied sound on the bill, as the main tour support they are ideal to setting the scene for the headliners.

However they were not the main support here, the 'special guest' slot was reserved for the aggressive, disenfranchised, nihilism from Cardiff's purveyors of filthy sludge Tides Of Sulfur (8). It's been a long time since I've seen TOS and a while since they played the capital but with a set fulled by plenty of alcohol and massive riffage, they are still as angry as ever supplying plenty of ear splitting riffs throughout with sandblasted vocals barking at the crowd. Their songs can be drawn out and ominous head bangers or faster riff hungry pit inducers, either way this three piece are still one of the heaviest bands I've seen live, TOS hurt after a few songs but it's kind of the point, they rally against society in general, their music is supposed to be combative and it left everyone deafened enough to want more.

With the band's patented smoke machine from hell pumping dry ice throughout the venue, it was time for the Undertaker...no wait sorry that's wrestling, this was the intro for headliners Agrona (9) who have finally decided on a line up after a lot of experimentation, mainly in front of my eyes at the last few gigs, their 7 headed beast of a line up means they can bring dual riffs, dual vocals and keys into the act adding a density to their traditional black metal sound. Drawing the largest crowd of the night, which would only be expected of a headliner at a local gig the smoke was pumping throughout and the band played for their lives. Rampaging black metal was the order of the day, with their line up now set and their performance honed to within an inch of its life the band conducted themselves in a manner befitting a headliner.

Imaterium called for violence and it was given as they furiously shredded their way through their hour long set. The dual harsh vocals both merged seamlessly into a cacophony of noise as blast beats, bass beatings, lighting shredding and symphonic elements crept in. The crowd reciprocated the effort on stage with gratuitous headbanging and some pitting. Once again they brought on Steve Jenkins of Democratus for one song to add clean vocals but a band such as Agrona are one you have to take in the entire package, they are utterly relentless live with only the climaxes of the songs allowing you to refrain from headbanging but soon enough they bludgeon you again. The numerous shows and honed performance mean that Agrona are worthy of a headline performance, they are currently on tour around the country if you miss them then more fool you.

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