(Note: In honour of the marvellously courteous tone of the sign posted by Nile's management regarding the most impolite practice, which sadly has of late been observed at several music-clubs and other live performances, namely that of STAGE-DIVING, an editorial decision has been taken to employ the same refreshing level of decency in the following review. One need not, it seems, talk down to metal-heads.)
Located beneath Camden Town's old Mother Red Cap, the Underworld is a most insalubrious venue; dank, murky and ill-appointed, it nevertheless attracts artistes of a rather higher calibre than one might have thought. Case in point: as we ventured into the Underworld's Stygian depths for Friday's recital by Nile we were accosted by various shady-looking characters asking if we had tickets "going spare" for the sold-out event. Let this be a notice to the constabulary.
Travelling all the way from the erstwhile colony of South Carolina, Nile are a leading act in the discipline of "brutal-cum-technical death metal," and could surely have played to a larger audience. That they chose instead the aforementioned Underworld perhaps says something of the group's devotion to its "roots," and its desire to see its audience "up close and personal."
We must admit to some personal disappointment that our party arrived too late to catch any but the last song of support act Belphegor, an Austrian outfit peddling theatrical and surprisingly melodious "blackened death metal;" still, the ditty we caught, the title track from the recent long-player Bondage Goat Zombie, was highly accomplished, and made us bitterly regret our late arrival.
While Nile bravely wield the baroque flourishes of technical death metal, their loyalties lie with the fast and cacophonous "brutal" playing style; the resulting combination drives a hard bargain with the untrained ear. The group's performance produced a sound that put to shame the worst excesses of our city's heavy industry, which is, perhaps, the appeal to London devotees hardened by the din of our very streets. In fact, while this was a new experience in the "Underworld," we have all been assaulted by noise of equal volume on the Underground which lies mere yards from the venue— and less pleasing notes, at that!
Our black-garbed followers of metal, for their part, enjoyed the show immensely, communicating enthusiasm in their particular fashion. They did not fail to take notice of skillful Hellenic percussionist Mr. George Kollias, trying their utmost to match the immense frequency of his drum beats with their own bodies, with alarming results. They did however abide by the band's treaty against stage-diving, for which we
commend them one and all.
By Jo Tacon and Paul Cox.