Show Review: Conquerors of the World Tour at Peabody’s in Cleveland, Ohio, October 17, 2012
Weeknight black metal shows are far from a spectacle. The bands are rarely household names, and the venues often fail to reach capacity. This can lead to a lack of engagement between audience and musicians, but it can also enable a more intimate concert. The Conquerors of the World Tour last Wednesday night at Peabody’s in Cleveland was one of the latter. Though the turnout was small, the mixes were clear and the players precise, making for one of the most enthralling black metal shows of the year.
Opener Inquisition were surprising in that they didn’t add any touring members besides the original two. The band’s sound was remarkably full for a performance conducted solely with a drumkit and one guitar, though it was certainly helped by the two amps Dagon plugged into. The band’s cohesion was impressive; you could tell Dagon and Incubus have been playing together for thirty years. Full swathes of sound issued from the stage, creating atmospheres that were headbangy as well as drony. The foray into death growls on closer “Ancient Monumental War Hymn” was an unexpected treat.
Ex Deo are a band whose existence is based on the excesses of metal. The band exaggerated almost every aspect of their performance, from the oppressive, overpowering samples to the laughable actualization (armor included) of the band’s Roman history theme. Vocalist Maurizio Iacono should stick to Kataklysm — he entirely lacked stage presence, standing in one place for minutes at a time while belting out corny Bane-sounding mids. The two more conventional metal songs the band played were less offensive, but that’s all they can claim. Even with heavier vocals and fewer samples, it was boring, swallowed by the wrappings of drama. Ex Deo even appeared uncoordinated; the two guitarists ended multiple tracks at different times and one of the solos was entirely out of time.
Melechesh’s aggressive heaviness was refreshing after the mediocrity of Ex Deo. Their intriguing blend of black and thrash was mixed well, and the rapid-fire riffs inspired plenty of fist pumps and catchy war chants. Their bottom end was the tightest part of the set, Drummer Xul working with the bass lines to lock in the band’s aggression.
The set transitioned from heavy to the heaviest when Krisiun took the stage. Moyses Kolesne’s tone was severely trebly, but it’s an unfortunate necessity when a band is restricted to a three-piece. Despite the tone, the mix was well-balanced, and the band’s blackened death whipped up the first pits of the night. Like Inquisition, it was clear that they’ve been working together for decades. Krisiun were the most technical of the night, another another layer of depth to the brutality. A fog machine fused with stop-and-start light changes to provide breathtaking visual effects, paralleling the furious stop-and-start rhythms driven by the furious blasts of drummer Max Kolesne.
Septicflesh should be almost exclusively a live band. It’s easy to see how their tracks could blend together on record, but there’s no evidence of it live. Their straightforward metal is ideal for a concert setting, crushing riffs supplemented with superb vocal inflection. As always, their mix was crystal clear, allowing each instrument to shine through. The band was orchestral as well as orchestrated; theatrical, but not excessive, limiting the drama to Spiros Atoniou’s phenomenal stage presence. Septicflesh’s set was a selection of their best tracks from their two recent albums, from the ghostly “Oceans of Grey” to the fast-paced “Lovecraft’s Death.”
After Thursday’s performance, I wouldn’t hesitate to see any of these artists again (excluding Ex Deo). Find your stop on the Conquerors of the World Tour, and support these bands – they need it. You know won’t have more fun than this on a weekday anytime soon.