Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sortilegia, Gevurah & Havan, May 30th 2015 @La Vitrola, Montréal

On this stormy Saturday night, the black metal fans of Montréal had a dark rendez-vous at this cool venue located on Saint-Laurent boulevard. The gigs organized by Sepulchral productions are always interesting and worth seeing, this one was no exception. After a slight delay that gave me the time to hang out with my disciples of the underground metal world of Québec's metropolis, the show was ready to start.

Havan is an ambient project by Frédéric Arbour known for his involvement with funeral doomsters Longing for Dawn and also as the owner of the dark ambient label Cyclic Law. I'm nowhere near a fan nor a specialist of this genre so I was in an unknown territory for their set. It was a long introduction for Gevurah's set, the music was highly atmospheric but it didn't have a lot of variations and details. It was basically a long, creepy, soundscape quite fitting for a horror movie or a video-game. It was pretty good but a tad boring. I believe the piece was written or executed for this precise evening.

Gevurah stepped on stage and they began their set while Havan's ambient overlong introduction was still underway. It was the Montréal duo's first gig since the release of their excellent EP “Necheshirion” (Profound Lore) almost exactly two years ago (read my review: here). The creative core of the duo got the help from two live musicians. Étienne Lepage (Venificium, Longing for Dawn, Sui Caedere) plays the bass and the current drummer of Verglas (black/punk) is the percussive force. X.T. (bloodied yet unbound) who usually handles the drums decided to concentrate on the vocals and A.L. handles the incisive and aggressively melodic guitars. Their black metal sound is right between the more dissonant approach of Deathspell Omega and the more riffy, in your face sound of Scandinavian (especially Swedish) black art. They were pretty good considering it was their debut live performance, the vocals could had been louder and the bass a bit more present but their mix was quite decent. They're currently working on their debut full length album and while they played no new material (4 songs from the EP, 2 from the demo from what I've been told), it's safe to say it will be a tremendous record. Their tracks can be intricate, long and they're not exactly to include some doomier or atmospheric influences. Illuminated by fiery candlelight, the troop offered a strong performance.

Gevurah on the Metal Archives

Picture taken by Annick Giroux

This was Sortilegia's first gig in Montréal since their solid set at Messe des Morts II (2012) when they played with their fellow Toronto friends Thantifaxath and were supposed to open for Darkspace (a like minded band) who were finally replaced by Archgoat. It was a very cool gig and I was excited to see them for a second time. The duo's full length release “Arcane Death Ritual” (available on all formats, I personally got the tape) released in late 2014 was well represented through the lush atmospheric but raw black metal delivered throughout their presentation. The guitar plus drums lineup is more than adequate even though it can appear to be minimalist or simplistic. Also, in Sylvus (now apparently dead? Lame!) , Anastasia is a damn fine guitarist who's able to captivate and hypnotize with a wide array of notes. The raw yet well composed songs can surely explain the deal the Ontarian band got signed to a label such as Vàn Records (one of the best in Europe).

The occult and bloody theatrics also plays an important role in their performances. Cloaked in dark purple robes and the face soaked in blood, Koldovstvo (her pseudonym) delivers profoundly noir metal with an incense smell. Sortilegia are masters of ritualistic death music.

To put it briefly, it was a great darkened evening with two of the best black metal bands Canada has to offer right now.

Sortilegia's picture courtesy of Matthew K. B

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