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DIRECT UNDERGROUND FESTIVAL – Marduk & Gorguts with Mgla, Ulcerate & Départe – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne – 18 March 2017
The sun may not have even properly set yet, but darkness is reigning at the Corner Hotel.
The stacked lineup has the venue busy early as Tasmania’s Départe gets things going. Still riding high on the wave of success of their Failure, Subside record, the quartet present their material with a confidence that makes the audience take notice. Layers upon layers swirl around the black metal at the core of their songs and the interplay between the music’s extremity and intricacy is a treat to witness.
That New Zealand death metal outfit Ulcerate are playing so far down the bill would be an outrage, unless the lineup wasn’t so incredibly good. And for their part, it seems like the innovative trio are determined to play like they’re headlining the night. Working through the gnarly, technical cuts from Vermis and Shrines of Paralysis, Ulcerate feed off of each other and the energy they share buoys the room.
Poland’s answer to Ghost, the mysterious Mgla keep the intensity levels high when they hit the stage. The dark, knotty tunes from Exercises in Futility are the perfect sonic accompaniment for their aesthetic, listening to them play tonight you can hear little nuances you’ve missed on the album and leave you with the sense that there’s plenty more than what meets the eye with Mgla.
From the outside, Canadian tech death supremos Gorguts are an odd choice for a bill more geared towards black metal. But Luc Lemay and company quickly have any naysayers eating their words. Even during the most brain-bendingly technical big kahuna jam, their set always feel like a performance, rather than just a music clinic for tech death nerds. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.
Then, just when there’s a modicum of beauty in the room, Marduk come on stage. The intensity of the Swedish band is overwhelming, and the nihilism that spews from Mortuus’ throat is captivating. The guitarist Evil picked the perfect black metal pseudonym because tonight his riffs sound exactly that, the standout title track from 2015’s Frontschwein album has the dude sounding like he believes he can summon demons from the recesses of hell with tremolo picking.
It’s brutal shit, and the room is right their with Evil, Mortuus and the lads. With such a resoundingly solid catalogue, it’s a shame that some records aren’t represented at all on the setlist, but Marduk compensate by making every song they play phenomenal, and playing with such ferocity that by the time the show is over, everyone in the room is sweaty, drunk and exhausted. What more could you want froma Saturday night?