The Alrosa Villa stage was hung with hell’s fury Friday, November 10 as The North American Totenritual came to Columbus via Columbus Events Group. The Death Black Metal Crusade continued its tear across the nation, headlined by Austria’s macabre masters Belphegor. Playing a sordid selection of older blasphemies, a handful from Totenritual, and a few ritualistic classics. Their show was half-horror movie, half-spellbound incantation and everything you never want to hear in the dark.
Panzerfaust and Cryptopsy are traveling the roads with the Austrians. The night’s local support Cult of Frost and Prometheus warmed up the crowd for the coming inferno.
Cult of Frost, played tribute to Celtic Frost, opening with six tunes from their iconic debut Morbid Tales. “Into Crypts of Rays,” “Visions of Mortality,” “Morbid Tales” and the Gregg Bender dedicated, “Procreation (Of the Wicked),” began the show with “Circle of the Tyrants,” and “Suicidal Winds” finishing the set. Together the band brought over 30 years experience in the Columbus scene to the stage playing tribute to the forefathers as Sepultura also did. Drummer Charlie Taylor III saw Frost in the ’80s. They bashed out the morbid spirit of the early thrash movement when the scene was still underground and word of mouth. If Kurt Cobain’s alter ego was Freddy Krueger, vocalist/guitarist Chrys pulled off the look and performance.
Metamorphosis began with Columbus’s symphonic, corpse painted skeletal hero’s Prometheus. Playing a sound conjured on an electrified stormy night in a medieval castle’s top-tower room of an all-night alchemic mixer. The four-man, war-painted band blended their talents into the wormwood well. Taking pieces of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Dawn of Ashes and even Carcass into the fold.
Vocalist/guitarist Gary Okuley played and performed like a crooked, unchained Frankenstein, with expressions of deranged, maniacal concentration, moving with creepy disjointed friction. The first pit of the night went to the local crew with Okuley taking a self-guided tour of the front audience faithful, bringing his brother onstage for a quick duet.
“Great White” opened with moments of black metal and Belphegor inspired riffs. Jaws-like violins played into the symphonic elements. “Aetos Kaukasios” shredded notes, sounding the horns, making sure metal dripped off the strings. With strategic placement “See You in Hell’s” addictive growled drum march felt as totalitarian as the oncoming black metal screams and squealing thrash chords. “Chorus of Torments” carried a slower, majestic feel, almost Nile-like in its use of atmospheric instrumentation.
As the last notes faded from the speakers, in a cool family moment in rock star fashion, Okuley handed his guitar to his brother.
Canada officially came calling from Mississauga, Ontario as PanzerFaust darkened the stage for a unique performance. Illuminated enough to know they were there, lit by mere candles, soft stage glow and movement. Anointed with incense, they broke out five four-nine minute blackened séances. Accompanied by clandestine candle bras, wood pulpit and banner creating a creepy atmospheric ambiance as initiates were introduced to The Lucifer Principle.
Lyrics of religion, lessons of history and war roared from the stage. The hooded, trench-coated hangman/lyrical dictator roared words from self-imposed darkness executioner style. Gripping the mic with strangling black gloves. Like an updated killer from the Town That Dreaded Sundown or a growling black-hooded Jason Voorhees, the shape left no feature to identify.
It was a performance in educational darkness, remembered for what could barely be seen but definitely heard.
The Avant-garde, experimental metal began with atomic power on “The Day after Trinity.” In machine like consistency “The first Con Man, The First Fool,” breathed past lessons of dictators, rulers and those who blindly follow large masses. The slow, methodic pace of “The Jerusalem Syndrome” lurched forward screaming warnings of slipping sanity and psychosis for those who venture there. “Axis Mundi” ended with heavy, loud education on the cosmic axis and planetary center.
The pit woke up as Cryptopsy came with vocalist Matt McGachy’s perpetual swinging windmill, commanding perfect pit and crowd control. With jack-hammering riffs, semi-automatic drums, the crowd exercised its right to destroy on command. They gave a few celebrated graphic cuts from None So Vile and an old-school medley of Blasphemy making the best, fastest, gruesome parts flesh.
Things went necro, like what happens behind closed doors, executed by dark, twisted minds and deep, buried unnatural internal hungers. “Endless Cemetery” continued Gein’s work and beyond, excavating the privacy of the dead, under the moonlight.
They ended in unspeakable ritual on “Orgiastic Disembowelment” giving the crowd a short needed breather before the bestial celebration.
Bringing a show high in theatrics, bones and ancient remains in general. Whether man-made or authentically unearthed are left to imagination and nightmares.
Hooded skulls, blood drenched inverted crosses and animal bones added to the unholy ambiance like borrowed living room décor from a certain old house in Texas. You almost expected Leatherface to run out, chasing his next victim to hammer or hook.
Diabolus in musica came in Belphegor.
Steam spewed as the eerie menace and gong of “Santus Diaboli Confidimus,” filled the venue. Helmuth raised horns, kneeling ceremoniously to the music. Looking like a torture chamber survivor or inspirer. With bloodshot face and stigmata filled eyes he croaked out “Bleeding Salvation.”
Satanic shifting light illuminated the sacrilege as pigs lyrically squealed and demons spewed from his Pazuzu filled lungs. Serpenth (bassist), Bloodhammer (drummer) and Impaler (guitarist) were dressed for spiritual warfare, pre-scarred and bludgeoned.
In between “Hell’s Ambassador,” the crowd got its first tastes of the Totenritual with “The Devils Son” and “Swinefever-Regent of Pigs.”
The ballistic war hammer hit anvil as bones and blood mixed in necrotic ceremony on “Conjuring the Dead.”
The sludge pummeling “Totenkult-Exegesis of Deterioration” invoked unholy knowledge from the grave as insidious copulation climaxed on “Lucifer Incestus.”
Blackened backwoods rituals baptized initiates in once innocent blood, in cursed flames in the name of “Baphomet.”
Images by Mike Ritchie