Joseph Norman

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Articles by Joseph Norman

Caspar Brötzmann Massaker – The Oslo, London

If you’re remotely interested in listening to guitar music, do your ears a favour and go and see these guys right now (ideally supporting Sunn O))) ). Watching Caspar Brötzmann Massaker perform takes me back to my earliest experiences listening to rock music, and reminds me of everything that made the electric guitar sound so exciting in the first place – so dangerous, so limitless, and so utterly essential to living.

Cradle of Filth – London Palladium

I think Dani Filth is one of the best extreme metal vocalists around: ultra-distinctive, versatile, and not to mention an outstanding song- and lyric-writer. And Cruelty is possibly his finest work . . . it’s clear from this show that they’re going through something of an internal renaissance, bouncing back rejuvenated. Even if you missed this special show, now is a very good time to go and see Cradle of Filth.

Mayhem – Daemon

For a band that emerged into the world over thirty years ago, Mayhem are still controversial, challenging, impossible to ignore and their music still captures the essence of the nasty old Norwegian black metal that it always has.

Electric Wizard • Church of Misery • Conan – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

The Wizard may have cleaned up their sound a little since the old days. . . But what’s left is a very solid band. . . There were motorbike chases, lesbian vampires, and leather-clad dominatrixes on the screen? Really? I hadn’t noticed. 

Bellkeeper – The First Flame of Lordran

Bellkeeper has used the limitations of the dungeon synth genre to build a sonic world that you’ll return to again and again, each time returning with more and more riches.

Drab Majesty – Dingwalls, Camden

Drab Majesty are probably not from some kind of extra-terrestrial race. . . But – when they emerge, resplendent in trademark white wigs, huge 3D-film style shades, white tailored suits, cravats, and blanched-complexions – you can’t help but wonder.

Alexis Mincolla from 3TEETH

Industrial metal’s fastest-rising stars. 3TEETH, launched their third album Metawar at the Electrowerkz in Islington in July, then stormed their show the following night supporting Ministry at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Joe Norman spoke with frontman Alexis Mincolla in the Empire’s suitably grimy and dimly lit backstage area after the show.

Ministry • 3TEETH • Grave Lines – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

I never saw Ministry back in the ‘80s, so I can’t tell you how this compares to their heyday shows. But tonight – an extravagant, gonzo barrage of angry political sloganeering, tightly-controlled sonic mayhem, and pantomime theatrics – makes the reason for their longevity clear.

Neurosis • Godflesh • Yob – O2 Forum, Kentish Town

The first thing I’m struck by, seeing Neurosis proper for the first time, is the power of Steve Von Till’s vocals. He has a fine voice for baritone ballads, but damn can the man bellow when he wants to! The second thing that strikes me is the quality of their lyrics – not something I focus on all that often in extreme metal, it has to be said, especially when watching bands live. 

GosT • ORAX – Underworld, London

It’s probably because I come to this as a metaller rather than a clubber or a gamer that I’m intrigued about exactly how this will operate in the live environment. Metallers are used to standing and watching the band, maybe moshing a bit. Clubbers are used to dancing, chatting and occasionally giving props to the DJ for dropping a massive tune. So how will the two mix, in the Underworld, on a wet rainy Wednesday?

Hexvessel – St John on Bethnal Green

Which better song for a pagan forest folk act to cover than ‘Gently Johnny’ from the Folk Horror classic The Wicker Man, Pioro’s violin for which is so moving that I’m mostly too absorbed to imagine Britt Eckland’s body-double writhing all over the church walls.

Wrekmeister Harmonies • FVNERALS • Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster – Electrowerkz, London

Overall, I’m struck by the vulnerability of Wrekmeister’s performance tonight; emotion that’s bravely raw and visible even behind a wall of guitar drone.

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Islington Assembly Hall, London

“Singing is a medicine,” says Einar Selvik, before launching into the finale of tonight’s triumphant show, and you can’t hear this man sing without understanding exactly what he means.

Mortiis – The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost (Remaster)

Has the demo stood the test of time? Absolutely. Mortiis manages to be simultaneously ahead of his era and lingering in the deep past, so this recording will always sound both fresh and ancient. This ghost’s song will be remembered for a long time to come.

Sinsaenum – Dome, Tufnell Park

There’s no drum solos suspended above the stage; no guitar wankery under the spotlight; no egos; no compromise. Because, at the end of the day, that’s why Sinsaenum are here: for a return-to-roots, back to the underground for the love of playing the nasty in sweaty venues.

YOB • Wiegedood – Garage, London

If Wiegedood hammered home an utterly-unvarnished sense of the bleakness and harshness of existence then YOB, alongside Om, Pallbearer and the like, concentrate on conveying a genuine sense of warmth, beauty and euphoria that is beyond piousness or pretension, and which stays with you way beyond the tube ride home.

Cultes Des Ghoules – Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths

Sinister may not be the band’s Holy Grail, but, nevertheless, to taste forthwith is truly to sup with the devil himself.

Black Label Society • Monolord – Royal Albert Hall, London

Watching Wylde play a guitar solo is like watching a starving person eat a steak or a perennially under-sexed person achieve orgasm . . . He doesn’t so much play the guitar as do guitar to you.

Anna von Hausswolff • Jo Quail – The Dome, London

If you asked me what was going through my head whilst watching Anna von Hausswolff I could honestly tell you very little – I doubt there was a single person in this sold-out show who was not utterly transfixed from start to finish.

Mortiis: Special ‘Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør’ Show – The Dome, London

. . .Sometimes you need to get lost in the glorious anachronism and introspection of dungeon synth. So, to all those underground keyboard composers: venture forth from the catacombs and onto the stage. Or go see Mortiis and catch the master at work.

Mortiis

I saw Gene Simmons spitting blood on TV as a four-year-old kid, and I thought that was the best thing in the world. Then someone brought the first WASP album into our house circa 1984 . . . and I forgot all about KISS, and WASP was the shit for a while . . . I eventually found myself being engulfed by Tolkien, Occultism, Bathory, and Venom. . .

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