Photos: Ali En
Friday, June 9 at The Rickshaw Theatre
Day two kicked off once again very early on Friday, June 9 at the much bigger Rickshaw Theatre in downtown Vancouver. Unfortunately, sets by Harvest Gulgaltha, Shroud Of The Heretic, Amphisbaena, and Kanashibari were missed, but Qrixkuor, coming all the way from London in the UK, did not disappoint and put the night immediately on a track of utter destruction. Their warped and tenebrous black death reminded me of Portal or Abyssal as they unfolded invisible black tentacles on the crowd, squeezing the life out of everyone with a thick web of heathen chaos. This sub-genre of warped and surreal black/death seemingly invented by Portal in the late 90s is no longer original by any means, but Qrixkuor have a strong and commanding grasp on the style and delivered it with merciless abjection to the crowd.
Sortilegia were among my favorite acts of the whole fest, in the top three for sure. The Ontario-based duo rolled out its mid-tempo paced tenebrous black metal like a creeping spell that entranced everyone in the crowd and made everyone feel dead inside and hopeless in front of a gaping wound in reality that opened a passageway to the underworld. A slow-moving swarming dirge of majestic beauty and of implausibly ugly wretchedness. Really nothing like it, and something that is seemingly impossible to truly put into words.
The new, almost stardom-level Bölzer closed the night with a triumphant onslaught of muscular and catchy black death. The Swiss duo is now a pretty unquestionable live attraction, as their gargantuan live sound and commanding stage presence – especially in light of the band being only a duo – makes most bands sound like a bunch of weaklings in the live environment. Nevertheless, it was also undeniable how the songs from their first two incredible EPs – Soma and Aura – literally trumped the new stuff from Hero in the live environment. Don’t get me wrong, Hero is a great record in my opinion, but its obviously increased “catchiness” and more marked melodies translate to a less oppressive and epic delivery in the live environment, whereas Soma and Aura‘s songs, when played live, are simply and truly just merciless skull-crushers. Nevertheless, even within these small “technical” details, Bölzer is a live killing machine like none other, and one of the most fun and intense bands to witness live these days.
Shroud Of The Heretic