On paper, Urfaust are an absurd proposition. The Dutch duo play a doomy, mid-paced and droning breed of black metal, over-topped by operatic, howling male vocals, in German (I think). The unlikely result is an intoxicating and addictive perfection. Due in part to their friendship with members of Black Anvil, Urfaust made the journey to the United States for the brief “Rites of Alcoholic Darkness” tour. Union Pool was packed with drunken, adoring fans for the band's New York show.
I've been hearing from more and more Krallice detractors of late, who either prefer the band's earlier material or dismiss the band outright with “post” and “hipster” pejoratives. I'm still enjoying Diotima immensely; it's persisted in my playlist throughout the year. Based on the crowded room on Saturday, a good many people also enjoy the band's newer music, or were at least overcome with a morbid curiosity. Krallice played a relatively short, three song set, featuring two Diotima tracks. I'm still taken by the the physical intensity involved in playing this music live. As usual, Krallice performed with a mesmerizing, organic brilliance.
Black Anvil are a band I'm constantly rediscovering. I know I enjoy their music, but every time I throw on a Black Anvil album I'm shocked by its immediacy. This revelatory propensity also applies to the band's live performances. Black Anvil always play like they have something to prove; they're only satisfied with completely flattening a crowd. The first thing I noticed when they took the stage was the gut crunching glory of Gary Bennett's guitar tone; I love it. I started out standing directly in front of Paul Delaney, but he screamed and wielded his bass with such apoplectic dementia that I feared my skull would be split open. The excellent set tore tracks from both albums and accentuated Black Anvil's power to harness riffs and rhythm in the name of malignity.
Stripped down to their essence, removed from keyboards, vocal reverb and choruses, Urfaust are an incredible live band. They may be one of the very few bands that sound better in person than on tape. Plugged into Black Anvil's rig, the guitars were sparse and gorgeous, as was the mix from the soundboard. IX's vocals were clear, strong and magnificently in key. When he let loose his signature howl, its unhinged glory begged us to respond in kind like wolves. The banter was kept to a minimum, although at one point IX dedicated a song to Peter Steele, calling him the band's single greatest influence. This explains a lot and also elicited a raucous response from the audience, as you can imagine.
The crowd was surprisingly vehement, singing along (in German?!), screaming, shoving drunkenly and raising many a beer in tribute to Urfaust. Although IX was remarkably subdued on stage, drummer VRDRBR rode his kit with a restless, punk rock rage. Never has a rudimentary beat been so viciously eviscerated. Even while keeping an eye on the crowd's soccer hooligan antics, I smiled throughout the entire set. Urfaust for strength.
Justina V also has a fantastic set of photos from the tour here.