Photography Review By: Brandy Isadora
February 15th proved to be a special night for metal fans in Phoenix, Arizona. Last year Marduk had to cancel their US tour due to Visa issues. However, this year, with no complications to stand in their way, Marduk has returned, slaying metal fans’ ear drums with supporting acts Incantation and Svart Crown. Even for a weekday night, Joe’s Grotto was full of loud and loyal metal fans ready to raise their horns in the air until the early hours of the morning.
Mutilated Tyrant, Ashes of the Dead, and Six Million Dead set the tone for the evening. These local acts made the Phoenix metal scene proud with their solid performances and command of the stage. By the time French metal band Svart Crown took the stage, everyone’s adrenaline was psyched for even more brutal metal.
Hailing all the way from France, Svart Crown played a version of blackened death metal that was textured with relentless fast drums, chunky guitars, and sensuous grooves. The five-piece band, which consists of JB Le Bail (vocals/guitar), Ludovic Veyssière (bass), Kévin Paradis (drums), and Kevin Verlay (guitar) formed in 2004. The etymology of the word Svart stems from Old Norse and it means dark, dirty, or black. From the moment they took the stage everyone in the audience appeared captivated. Sometimes the pursuit for impeccable precision can sound mechanical and stagnant, but that was not an issue for the band. The grooves pushed the limits between lyrical and chaotic. While Paradis maintained the momentum for the entire set, Bail, Veyssière, and Verlay accentuated the dark ambience with their Viking-like stage presences. While this band may not have the same online presence as some of the other metal bands, there is no doubt that they left an indelible impression on the audience.
The next band to take the stage was Incantation. Formed in 1989, Incantion was one of the first bands that formed in the quickly developing death metal scene in New York and nearly thirty years later they continue to have a strong presence in the metal world. Since their formation, the band has gone through several lineup changes. The group now consists of vocalist and guitarist, as well as sole original member, John McEntee, drummer Kyle Severn, bassist Chuck Sherwood, and their live guitarist Sonny Lombardozzi. Many of the people who were hanging out on the patio rushed inside to watch the band play. As Incantation went into their first song, it was evident that they weren’t just playing for a metal audience. The people head banging or recording the show with their cell phones were loyal and well versed fans. Known for their varied tempos and deftly weaving black, doom, and death metal grooves, the guys from Incantation pushed the excitement in the room into chaos. The fans couldn’t simply stand still and listen to the music. Some of them formed a mosh pit, while the rest swayed to the chunky guitar riffs and pummeling drums. McEntee connected with the audience, and by the time they had finished their set, everyone’s gaze remained transfixed on the stage.
The velocity and vulgarity of metal is primal, dark, and uncertain, and Marduk is such a band that demonstrates this. Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson formed the band in 1990, and while their sound was originally more death metal, the band has evolved into black metal. Yet, the pursuit to create the sound of blasphemy never ends for this band. The venue was the most packed just before the Swedish band took the stage. Covered in face paint and wearing all black, vocalist Daniel “Mortuus” Rostèn, along with guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, bassist Magnus Andersson, and drummer Fredrik Widigs took the stage with an ominous and ceremonious energy. The intense momentum from the speedy guitar riffs, drums, and Mortuss’ screams never wavered. Mortuus immersed himself in the chaotic energy of the crowd. Andersson and Håkansson were equally commanding on stage, and there wasn’t one person in the venue who wasn’t affected by the energy the band displayed. Marduk’s return to the states was a momentous occasion for metal fans. The band held nothing back, and they closed the night with an energetic and captivating concert.
Heavy metal as a genre has often faced controversy and misunderstanding. However, these challenges have only strengthened the metal community and its musicians. Besides putting on solid performances, Marduk, Incantation, and Svart Crown created unforgettable experiences for their fans. No doubt these bands will return soon, and their fans will still be here ready to embrace the chaos.Full Gallery