Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
The black curtains of the stage part. The band pose heads down to the sickly sweet tinkering of ‘Tiffuages’. The screams and devil horns of the crowd reaching fever pitch on sight of our dark leader arriving to intone the words. I get the impression this is gonna be the Dani Filth show, the crowd surging towards wherever he is on stage like tacks to a magnet. He looks just like you would expect; swathed in black, corpse paint, crazy contacts. Our young protagonists viking sized hero, James McIlroy dominates the stage beside him. Just behind our Gregor Clegane of a guitarist, hulks drummer Martin Škaroupka. Paul Allender flanks Dani stage right, whilst bassist Daniel Firth haunts the space between in a shroud of curly locks.
“Holy fuck can this guy scream” – is about all I can think for the first 5 minutes. The opener ‘Tragic Kingdom’ appeared to come with about 80% more eardrum piercing destruction. “For the next 90 minutes I wanna see these fucking digits in the air” Dani swaggers to a sea of devil horns. Like that wasn’t already gonna happen. Later, I notice a young woman at the barrier whose hand must surely have become a claw by the end there. Never lowered once either. Fervent.
During ‘Funeral in Carpathia’ I spy the keyboard player way at the back there. Bringing the operatic harmonies that are part of or possibly the reason why I enjoy this band. Though I soon feel that they are a little too drowned. I have to admit also Dani’s guttural growls are not as deep and menacing as I was hoping. Or maybe it’s just that nothing sounds the same after that ring wraith like scream.
Dani continues to announce each track in slightly hilarious fashion. ‘For Your Vulgar Delectation’ is from their “latest musical excretion” and dedicated to the front row. It’s a thrashier offering from these Goth metal gods. Dani is dynamo on stage, jack hammering his body to the beat. Forgive me, but I am also mesmerised by James Mcilroy’s hair – constantly twirling and flipping then like a cat, always managing to land perfectly and not smooshed all over his face/guitar. Paul Allender plays the straight man, stoically tearing away on the other side. A fledgling circle pit wobbles to life; people start crowd surfing, young bodies breaking on the shore of the security at the barrier. Endearingly, I start to notice the same faces emerge flushed and elated as they go back for more.
‘A Dream of Wolves In The Snow’ brings back those lush symphonic elements. The growled vocals emanating with more of the power and force I was looking for. Martin Škaroupka’s drumsticks are a fucking blur on ‘Summer Dying Fast’ and well they should be, it’s a maniacal track that cooks together a vile stew of thrash and symphony serving it up to me sans bowl. ‘Nymphetamine’ is probably my favourite song, my only gripe is again that I feel the melodic female vocals are not prominent enough.
Nine tracks (roughly an hour in) they depart stage and dramatically return minutes later with ‘Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids’ all bludgeoning drums, haunting screams, and duelling guitars. Finishing with ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’ and ‘From the Cradle to Enslave’ the term ‘crowd favourites’ doesn’t seem to cover the worship displayed by these feverish bodies.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from these guys – wasn’t sure how their sound would translate live. It was by no means sold out, and the pit fairly spacious. But, those that were there – were THERE. Pure enjoyment lit those faces. And say what you will of their brand of Goth metal, they fucking sell it (not sell out – there’s a difference). Dani’s stage banter is endearing in a way I did not expect. The deadpan “talk amongst yourselves, I’m fucked” and alternately referring to us as “cunts” (not unexpected) and “fucking galahs” (ha!).
Going into this I felt slightly like they are a bit of a religion amongst Goths/metal heads and though I attend both those churches, I don’t kneel down and weep at their altars. But I guess the beauty of these guys is that it’s not required. It probably sounds wrong but if I’m gonna use the church analogy – it was the fun, hands clapping kind of church. Who doesn’t love that?