Pantheïst, Ofnus & Thrakian, Fuel Cardiff, 30.12.23
The final gig of 2023 was a funeral, putting to rest what's been a surreal year for many. Natural resources continue to decline, energy prices continue to increase, wars are taking place in the Middle East and Europe.
The rise of the extreme right is visible everywhere, those seeking asylum are held on floating prisons or sent to Rwanda and the bloke from Wetherspoons has been given a fucking Knighthood.
For so many of us music is the escape, a place we can go to for enjoyment, escapism, to be transported to another place, away from daily troubles and lose yourself in music. In Fuel on the penultimate day of 2023, we had a selection of three of the best riff slinging, atmosphere inducing, noise making bands in the extensive doomsphere.
Opening up the evening was the abrasive sludge noise of Thrakian (8), aggressive and confrontational they straddle the NOLA scene and the crushing UK sounds of bands such as Conan.
Dragging this funeral for the year into life kicking and screaming, they make an impression live as the repeating distorted riffs and screamed vocals reverberated around Fuel's walls. Having seen them with the headliners before I knew what to expect but Thrakian are always a little dangerous to witness.
Next it was the mighty sounds of Ofnus (9) capping off their inaugural year as a band with a (now rare) hometown show, having honed themselves all around the country supporting their incredible debut album Time Held Me Grey And Dying. They are well drilled, goosebump inducing machine that lean heavily on black metal but escape from the confines that restrict it.
Playing tracks off their album the drumming of Ethan was as always intense, the bass of Rich aligning the pace as the guitars of Alyn tremolo pick, alongside James who throws in a few proggy lead breaks and solos. Up front too Will has become a consummate frontman, his between song banter is much more confident while his voice is fantastically diverse.
After their current closing salvo of A Thousand Lifetimes concluded they went on to debut a new track thay looks to be coming on album #2 and was brutal. Watch this band in venues this size while you can as there's potential and drive here to see them ascend as high as possible.
So the final liturgy of this funeral came from doom veterans Pantheïst (9), drenched in synth and organs, the riffs are so low and loud that the bass affects the P.A and can actually be felt under foot. The drums weave the pace between flurries of extreme metal energy and spacial textures while all points in between are filled by the keys/synths for a fully formed cinematic sound.
Utilising songs from their catalogue they played choice selections that suited the addition of Linda Dumitru's soaring Celtic soprano, the addition of her voice in contrast to Kostas' echoed growls and low cleans is incredibly affecting, even this cold black heart was brought to tears during Be Here.
Elsewhere the additions she provides to Don't Mourn and Wilderness are notable, adding a new dimension to what Pantheïst do on the live stage. It was mesmeric and I found myself just letting the music wash over me, every sinew and nerve ending stimulated by the atmosphere they created. Even a few sound niggles couldn't detract from the experience of Pantheïst live.
The closing track was the leviathan title piece from their upcoming EP Kings Must Die boding well for more incredible doom to come in March. A revered, veteran band in the underground scene, it was a fitting way to lay 2023 to rest, not quietly or meekly but burning it down in flames with mesmeric, emotional doom metal wonderment.