|Der Blutharsch, Of The Wand and
The Moon, and Foresta Di Ferro
Hinoeuma, Red Rose, London
It was a welcome return to London for Der Blutharsch who were touring Europe to promote their latest CD, When All Else Fails! Unlike their previous London show at the Slimelight thankfully this one was free from those ever-present bomb threats that seem to follow Albin's troops around.
Of The Wand and the Moon opened the evening. Guided by Kim Larsen, Of The Wand and the Moon have garnered much attention for their brand of apocalyptic folk. Inspired by the original triumvirate of World Serpent folk outfits Of The Wand and the Moon draw much inspiration from Current 93, Sol Invictus and Death In June. Their entire set evokes prime Death In June circa Rose Clouds of Holocaust. All the hallmarks of that release are here: elegiac keyboards, timpani drumming and various percussive devices. It is, however, the acoustic guitar twinned by occasional electric guitar strums that provides the defining characteristics. Larsen's dulcet tones almost echo Douglas P.'s in delivery when he sings of emptiness, or pronounces "all Gods are dead."
Matt Howden, the composer, solo artist, producer and violinist for Sol Invictus, joins Of The Wand and the Moon for several songs. Matt's previously collaborated on 'I Crave For You', a limited seven-inch single. His sweeping and soaring violin strings add a fresh dimension to Of The Wand And The Moon's melodic apocalyptic folk. It's a much-needed sense of vitality to an almost static performance and in doing so he leads the music in a more frenetic direction immediately quashing the obvious Death In June comparisons.
Of The Wand and the Moon were borne out of the Scandinavian doom metal project Saturnus and while this offshoot project is following a well trodden path Larsen plays it so well that he'll definitely find room to prosper.
A selection of marching music, and clouds of smoke set the mood for Der Blutharsch. By the time they take the stage it's fair to say the venue appeared to be like a warzone, with dry ice hindering vision.
Resplendent in her finest fascist chic Marthyana, Der Blutharsch's pretty but stern looking female co-vocalist, reads from a prepared scroll declaring God is Punishing Us, backed by Der Blutharsch's chief protagonist Albin Julius and David (from Novo Homo) on furious timpani accompaniment. Flanked by two torches that would continue to burn for the duration of the set it was a powerful and provocative opening.
Classical sampling strained from the speakers as Albin decked out in leather boots, peaked cap and sporting a newly grown goatee looking rather like an overweight Anton LaVey took the role of confident front man. 'I Have No Fear' he would declare, or raged about the 'Pleasures Received in Pain'.
Reminders of Albin's time in the Moon Lay Hidden Behind A Cloud become confined to the past as Albin now appears more comfortable utilising classical sampling, and martial music from the war years, accompanied by live percussion and live vocals. His collaborative efforts with Death In June and NON both live and in the studio has proved a fertile ground for Albin Julius as Der Blutharsch deliver a commanding performance. It becomes evident that he is a master tactician who knows the effectiveness of drama and excitement, - and the power of highly collectable limited editions. Witness the chaos created when postcards are thrown into the front rows as crowd members scramble to snap up yet another Der Blutharsch collectable.
The other evident thing is Albin Julius's grasp of aesthetics; he's taken sweeping orchestrations and military marches and imbued them with spirit and vitality that's able to stir the hearts of today's Iron Youth. I'm reminded of interviews where Albin has professed his admiration for Robbie Williams. So to the uninitiated the fascist overtones may appear to be in bad taste but first and foremost a Der Blutharsch live show is about entertainment.
The crowd shout and stomp their feet on the wooden floor for more. There is no encore. There's nothing more to be said. Tonight is another victory and a strong step onwards for Albin's contemporary Vienesse Aktionists.
By the time Foresta Di Ferro are due on stage most of the assembled throng are already making their way home across London, which is a great pity. Those with the foresight to hang around were treated to Foresta Di Ferro, a new musical project featuring the varied talents of Marco Deplano, Richard Leviathan and John Murphy. Interestingly they're all musical immigrants leading itinerant lives in their adopted home of London.
Between them they share some interesting credentials: Marco Deplano performs in noise act Death Pact International and solo as Wertham; Richard Leviathan is one-half of esteemed dark folk outfit Ostara while John Murphy's illustrious career has included spells as percussionist for the Associates, Current 93, SPK, Knifeladder and more recently he's been closely involved with Douglas P.'s Death In June and their multifarious spin-offs.
They took to the stage with chiming bells before unleashing a musical and visual treat drawing upon the paradox between religion and violence. Marco Deplano, the chief protagonist provides the muscular force, flirting between electronics and aggressive vocalisations, while Leviathan, whose Ostara projects excels in delivering poetic and mystical writings, takes a more measured and studied approach. With perfect diction Leviathan recites writings, while Murphy in his nonchalant style provides his customary percussion. Foresta Di Ferro appear inspired by history, by its violence and its religion.
One track tells of Mishima's principle of harmony of pen and sword, which blends art with action. The Japanese warrior-author achieved this harmony of courage and conviction when he committed ritual suicide in 1970.
Other tracks appear concerned with the troubles between Israel and Palestine, and specifically the carnage created by fanatical murderer/martyr suicide bombers. Excerpts of 'Kingdom Gone', the title track from the new Ostara album, appear to surface during other tracks throughout evening. The Ostara connection is taken further when in a brief interlude Leviathan provide an illuminating acoustic version of Operation Valkrie. It makes perfect sense when one considers Marco Deplano's contribution to Secret Homeland. Foresta Di Ferro's set appears improvised but it's an intriguing mix of sound and visuals, of music and prose, and of strength and beauty. Foresta Di Ferro have an assured future ahead of them as their sound takes elements of electronics, percussion and dark folk pop. Foresta Di Ferro are taking their first tentative steps but you can be sure that whatever steps they take they will be solid and certainly not faltering.
Der Blutharsch - www.derblutharsch.com
Foresta Di Ferro - www.omega-org.co.uk/dpi/
Knifeladder - www.knifeladder.com
Matt Howden - www.matthowden.com
Ostara - www.ostara.net
Of The Wand and the Moon - www.ofthewandandthemoon.dk