Holding the crowd in a captive trance, they cast a black metal spell on all in attendance. The good, the bad and the satanic were all caught up in the villainous assault of a legend.

One thing about attending shows, if you miss one there’s always another. My attendance at live gigs this year has not been good. It’s been frustrating for me because skipping a gig is more than just losing a chance to see a great lineup. It’s also missing an opportunity to catch up with some friends.

I missed Marduk at Reggie’s (2105 S. State Street Chicago, IL) last year but when opportunity knocked again, August 25th @ The Forge (22 Cass Street Joliet, IL) I knew I’d be there.

I arrived at the venue with TMC (The Metal Channel) editor and public relations officer Roger Schultz about an hour after the event kicked off. There was a substantial crowd on hand checking out a local blackened death metal act called Blood of the Wolf. I thought the group showed promise, a monstrous old school attack in the vein of bands like: Grave, Vader or Dark Funeral. I bought a copy of the band’s current release: I: The Law of Retaliation (2015) and ran into God Dementia/ Withering Soul drummer Rick Hernandez. I found out he’s also the drummer for Blood of the Wolf. A consummate musician, the conversation left me wondering if the guy ever sleeps!

When the set ended, I checked in with Marduk’s tour manager to make sure my interview was still a go then I took in The Forge. For those of you who don’t know, The Forge used to be MoJoes. The beer selection is excellent and the prices aren’t too bad either. The high ceiling and concrete floors make quality audio a bitch but a veteran sound man at the venue seemed to have those issues solved.

I was excited see Abysmal Dawn. The Los Angeles death metal act has been around since 2003 and I appreciated their unique take on science fiction and the occult. I’ve always thought of the band as a Morbid Angel (Covenant) meets Hypocrisy (The Arrival) death metal act, frantically technical passages set to inhumane vocals. The group hasn’t put out a new album since 2014 and it will be interesting to hear what they do next.

Incantation was up next and I will readily admit I was curious to see what they had left in the tank. I hadn’t seen the band play live in years (EntombedClandestine) nor had I heard any material from their new release, Profane Nexus. The plodding methodical style of death metal Incantation delivers was refreshing. I had forgotten how devious Incantation sounds live, their demonic pedigree fit in perfectly with the rest of the lineup. Unfortunately, I had to miss the final few songs of their set to go and conduct my interview with Marduk but from what I heard Incantation is back and sicker than ever.

My favorite part about interviewing an artist is talking to them in a closed setting and then watching them perform on stage. There’s a universal switch, a metal overdrive which most artists possess and I’m always curious to see how quickly they get to full speed. I think the black metal throttle is broken on Marduk guitarist, Morgan.  The guy lives, eats and breathes music. It’s no wonder the band has such a universally strong following, Morgan has put his blood, sweat and tears into it.

After the interview it was time to see the group perform live. Marduk has always benefited from a domineering stage presence. They are dirty, vile and ooze an uncleanliness most extreme bands can only dream about. Holding the crowd in a captive trance, they cast a black metal spell on all in attendance. The good, the bad and the satanic were all caught up in the villainous assault of a legend.

As I drove home that night I considered black metal. The genre’s popularity may have leveled off but a loyal fan base still remains. Marduk has played Chicago more times than any other black metal act. It’s no accident the Swedish legends drew well that night, they earned it. \m/

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