Tonight is a busy day for Metal in the Capital, with the dreaded evening of multiple gig clashes, within a few stops of the Northern Line alone. One stop down from tonight’s proceedings in Tufnell Park sees the Cerberus-like bill of Behemoth, At The Gates and Wolves In The Throne Room, whilst Camden Town sees Toundra for those seeking something more mellow, and Obscura for some who, well, aren’t. This goes someway to explaining why The Dome looks tonight to be, at best, around half capacity for much of the night. Not that this seems to dampen anyone’s mood, as all night the crowd are on fine form, showing the bands plenty of love and movement as well as respect to one another.
Unfortunate lateness into London and the venue mean we catch only the last song of Aussie’s (a theme, for the most part, tonight) Hadal Maw, which on evidence alone suggests them to be a precise and enjoyable, more straight-forward contemporary Death Metal outfit; but the real talking point is frontman Sam Dillon, whose moves make him reminiscent of a strange combination of Anthony Kiedis (including lack of shirt) and Deafheaven’s George Clarke, so kudos to him.
The instant reaction that Slovenia’s Within Destruction provoke, and the continued energy the crowd exude for their set, belies the fact that they are not one of the headline acts here, as they not only seem to have brought a few fans along the way (a cursory glance shows perhaps the most merch worn amongst the crowd) but undoubtedly made a few new friends too. Perfectly aware that their brand of Slam/Deathcore is suitably dumb and entirely unpretentious, their set is a thoroughly cathartic barrage stacked with infectious beatdowns and an almost party-like atmosphere from the off. It is clear both the band and the nearly continuous pit in front of them are having the best time, and their set is over all too quickly.
Following on the party antics of Within Destruction, Aversions Crown feel a more serious entity, and thus, without fault of their own, their set takes a little longer for it to connect. Certainly intense and pummelling but lacking in the same scale of ecstasy that WD brought to the table means this feels a little cold for the initial stages. The likes of ‘Ophiophagy’ and ‘The Soulless Acolyte’ bring so much filth and towering beatdowns that they quickly grab people’s attention again, though. Not always as fast-paced as some of their peers on this bill and less technical, Aversions Crown instead rely on bulldozing all in their path and crushing underfoot, and while they might not have garnered the biggest reaction of the night, they have shown why they are one of the strongest contenders for the Deathcore crown and evidence that this much-maligned genre still has plenty of worth.
Tonight is won, however, by the closing act of this co-headline tour, Psycroptic, who stand out from the rest of tonight’s viewing with a more Tech-00orientated strain of Death Metal, but one that still brings immediacy and hooks as opposed to overt complexity. Despite accounts that both headlines acts today have been rotating the closing slot across this European trek, tonight Psycroptic feel like the true headline act, right from the moment the recognisable opening notes of ‘We Were The Keepers’ kicks off their performance.
This is a raucous and relentless affair which is packed with so many highlights across their whole catalogue, and packed with so many highlights, particularly the excellent ‘Cold’ from the vastly underrated self-titled album (Prosthetic). Jason Peppiatt is a stage general and ringmaster who needs to bark few orders for the crowd to go nuts throughout, whilst he sounds as cutting in person as he does on record.
Where Psycroptic further stand out from their peers on this tour bill is that, despite their lack of Slam, they still bring that almighty and overwhelming sense of primal enjoyment, and tonight’s gig delivers that in spades from top to bottom. Tonight may have been fighting for attention with other high profile shows in the city, but a night of excellent, killer Death Metal at one of the most underrated venues and one of the best bars is exactly what the doctor ordered for a Friday night.