@ The Black Heart, the Devonshire Arms, the Electric Ballroom, the Underworld Camden, London UK
13 May 2023
Review by The Flâneur
Photography by Farrah Kathleen and Manu Volpina
This was my first time ever attending Incineration, and I was positively ecstatic.
To be clear, the only reason I had never attended it before was because I never really cared about the line-ups. There’s only so many times one could be excited about seeing Mayhem, especially with Necrobutcher there.
But this year Lamp of Murmuur, Rotting Christ, and Asphyx were all on the bill so off I went too. Now, spoiler alert: I had done all three days of Desertfest the weekend prior, and I was still recovering from it, so I may have not been as proactive as I could have been.
First for the day were our good old pals Party Cannon. Camden was calm outside but inside the Underworld was bursting at the seams. Party Cannon are a very curious band. Perhaps, they recognised early on that their genre of choice is both chock full of 4channers and that it intrinsically lacks any space for originality, so they decided to focus on the visual aspects of experimentation. Prior to the show I was wondering whether there would be inflatables and push ups. Suspicions confirmed. I only wish the inflatables made it to the back of the venue, I’d have shown them who’s their master.
Urne were next. I went, I saw, I left. Not the worst death doom/black, but still pretty boring, and Electric Ballroom was too big a venue for them.
It was an even odder choice for Lamp of Murmuur to play at the Underworld. Surely, if nothing else, their 2022 gig at Electrowerkz must have shown that they can not only fill up small venues, but have the potential of filling up large ones too. Starting of with A Burning Spear I, it was clear from the get go that they weren’t taking prisoners. It certainly helped that the sound was done much better than it had been at Electrowerkz. I could actually hear to vocals! Wow! The absence of overworked smoke machine was also a big plus. I could actually see the band. Wow! Why so early though?
Asphyx were actually the band I was looking forward to the most. Old dogs of the scene, they’re anything but dried up. In fact, they were visibly having fun on stage – and this was absorbed by the crowd which game them an almost constant mosh pit, and even some crowdsurfing. In fact, they almost sounded better live than on recording, and had all the chemistry to back it up.
After their set, I went out for a breath of fresh air to the smoking area, where I met Sonia-Elena, their biggest fan, no exaggeration. One thing led to another, and, long story short, I ended up taking the most awkward interview ever with Martyn. Coming up soon. Spoiler alert: they’re literally the nicest people ever.
My interview shenanigans made me late for Rotting Christ, but I’d seen them enough times before to know that they’d put on an insane show. Saki’s incredible stage presence truly was at the heart of their performance, but so was their dedication to satisfying the public. A perfect sound and a dozen mosh pits later, I left to Numa Numa playing outside and a Wendy’s overrun by festival goers.
Going back into the swing of things after a much deserved trve kvlt milkshake, I decided to finally pop into the Dev for a spot of Andracca. Below are the actual notes I took during their set:
“bringing the house down”
“sexy punky raw atmo bm shit”
“don’t want to leave”
I also didn’t want to leave because I had to run off to Enslaved. Now, if you know me, you might be aware that I have an unnatural distaste for Enslaved (despite being a-ok with Wintersun, perhaps for shits and giggles). The pointless spoken word movie footage intro was not a good start in my books, and in general, I thought that they were somewhat good but impossibly boring. They had zero stage chemistry and seemed like they were forced to be there. Something about being a popular black metal band not paying the bills. Same, man.
Alright, I admit I love King Dude. But he’s kind of disappointing live. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him, and it’s always a struggle to last till the end. This is not because of a lack of talent or musicality, but because he just talks so much. Seriously, I actually find him quite funny and all, but when you speak longer than play, it tends to get a bit awkward. I’d fully support him if he goes down the one-man comedy act route, but so far this seems to be integrated a bit too much into his actual musical performances.
Also, there’s another curious thing about King Dude. He always plays metal festivals, or is always supported by bands more popular than him. Case in point: Ruins of Beverast. Case in point: Kaelan Mikkla. Case in point: Incineration. And it’s really doing him a disservice.
Farrah: A quick word from Farrah on a couple of the bands which The Flâneur missed.
Profanatica played quite early on in the day, and for being an earlier show, it was a quite busy one, I rather thought. Personally, I didn’t see a huge amount of energy from the band, and it certainly didn’t come across as much more than your standard run-of-the-mill Black Metal. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and they were popular enough to have filled The Underworld to a one-out one-in system. I bopped along but nothing about the crowd stood out to me, they enjoyed it but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they loved it. This is less a disservice to them as it is more or less relative.
I attended pretty much all of the same shows as our reviewer above did, and while, particularly at the larger venues, they were pretty packed, I don’t think there was a single crowd with as much energy, or as feral as for Antichrist Siege Machine, and this is why I said the lack of energy at the other bands was relative. ASM was absolutely insane. I have never in my years of photographing metal seen a crowd so hungry to be there. The two-man band from Virginia should be very proud of themselves. The drummer-vocalist and the guitarist tore up the tiny stage at the Black Heart. The venue was absolutely slammed, with people falling forward into the amps and barely holding themselves up off the stage, a queue to get in down the rickety stairs. I stayed for a few songs before having to fight my way out of the front row. I would highly recommend catching them at the next given opportunity. They’re considered war metal and I definitely felt like I’d been in the wars after the show, and I’d suspect many others did too.
The Flâneur: That was Incineration done for me. I missed out the Marduk drama, but I haven’t really cared for Marduk since I was 15, so there wasn’t much of a chance I was going to be there for it. It seems they’ve now addressed it and taken direct and immediate action, for which I applaud them. However, I am hopeful that this event would open up further dialogue on the scene in regard to covert far-right tendencies. Let’s not sweep this under the rug, ts-ts-tsking and labelling it normal. Normalising it is what makes it so common. Talk to your friends and bandmates, okay!?
But, since my experience wasn’t marred by the Marduk thing, I can only talk with praise about this edition of Incineration. Although jam packed with both trve kvlt bands and keen acolytes, it felt quite laid back and relaxed. The sound in the various venues was generally good, and the organisation seemed to run very smoothly. Both staff and festival goers seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and the order of things was maintained spotlessly. It felt like hanging out and having fun with a massive bunch of old friends you hadn’t seem in years, rather than rushing from one band to another, barely able to enjoy any of them. And, it being just one day this year, was inadvertently considerate to those of us still recovering from three days of Desertfest. For a first time at Incineration, I’d rather say, I had a pretty good time. See you all next year, friends!