As far as I can remember Szeged was always the vivid center of creativity and a home for underground musicians, artists. Maybe there are some occult energy lines/vessels running under the surface of the Earth, maybe the Witch Island has a strange attraction – I don’t really know but Szeged and its area (Csongrád County) always spawned a handful of quality bands trough the decades. Unconventionally, our main focus is on black and death metal music and now the Inner Awakening Circle, which is an obscure collective of individuals, bands and projects under the banner of Dark Arts. The people behind the Circle organise and hold their own feast in a yearly period. This time it took place in the Live Music Club between the 14th and the 15th of August. Behold the 7th coming of Inner Awakening Fest.
DAY ONE: LEPRA (H), AHRIMAN (H), SVOID (H), FUNERAL THRONE (UK), INFERNO (CZ)
There were some line-up changes on the first day: Svoid arrived later to the event, so Lepra had to open the sonic ritual with their traditional black metal music. Lepra is part of the Inner Awakening Circle and plays fast, mid-tempo based, raw black metal from an own point of view, all embedded in a dark devilish aura. In their early works they reminded me to the Swedish Ofermod but on the debut Tongue Of Devil Prayers they went on a different path. The performance was a great eye-opener, the vision with the sound and the smell of incense became as one powerful hook that dragged closer the listeners of the Black Cult. They played only brand new songs plus an older one. (You can check out the video for ‘Wrecked on the Ruins Of Time’ below). It was really promising, the guitar themes were catchy as fuck and chilling at the same time. (If I am not mistaken they are in the phase of writing the second album.) They also played a cover from Tiamat called Teonanancatl. Perfect pick. Lepra is a bad-ass band, both on record and live, if you have the chance, check them out, they deserve it.
Ahriman was next and without being bumptious they are still one of the local living legends of the city’s black metal scene. I think their appearance was kind of important for many reasons: they re-united with a new line-up (except for frontman/songwriter/boss/multi-instrumentalist Blasphemy), they are working on fresh material and this was their first performance after almost 10 years of hiatus. They came, they slayed, showed us no mercy and no fucking around, 3 (?) songs in like 30 minutes. Fuck. Their sound was really good, the fast themes gave me shivers. One of the songs called ‘Aranyló Vér’ was built up on a tension using switching between opposite parts: the slower, synth based (an Ahriman trademark) melancholic sections contra hyper fast punishing blast beats. I have to say that their drummer Thypad is among the extremely talented ones of the underground genre. Every time I see him playing, he manages to develop himself. Just watching only his right hand hitting the cymbals during the gig, I thought I saw a speeded-up version of what I really see. Mind blowing. Also their new guitarist, T was a master of his instrument: the solos were absolutely great, like a cherry on the top. A black cherry, quite exactly. Last but not least, I have to mention the suggestive singer: he is among the best vocalists around and reminded me somehow (maybe it was because the way he looked like) of Nemtheanga from Primordial. We saw a flawless set from Ahriman, now we just have to wait for the ‘Bőrkoporsó’ to arrive.
Svoid was the third on the list, they operated as a classic line-up: one bass player / vocalist, one guitar player and drummer. Some might know that their drummer also takes part in experimental black metal band Karst and both bands are from the city of Miskolc. Svoid played a real unique blend of black (or dark) metal, which needs a correct and right state of mind. Not an easy listen and not for beginners. For me, Svoid was a great surprise to witness. The smoke, the symbols combined with the unearthly devotion, they were channeling through sounds, opened up a whole new territory of obscure music. Structurally pure black metal elements dived deep into the „svoidic” sea together with dark rock elements such as Beastmilk (now Grave Pleasures) or even Joy Division. They played songs from Ars Kha and To Never Return and a cover from their latest release Devil’s Blood (which was originally written by Swedish black metal warriors, Watain.) The crown of psychic transformation at the end of the journey was a timeless classic from Norway’s Burzum. The words of ‘Dunkelheit’ still resonate in me: „Life has a new meaning.” Hails to Svoid!
After few nice beers and nice cigarettes, when I was walking down through the catacombs of the venue, the guys of Funeral Throne were already on stage. Massive, dirty wall of sound, 3 axe-holders, all of them took part in screaming their lungs out, which gave an extra dynamism to their music. Imagine an explosive blend of black, death, thrash metal with a dose of sludge. Some parts were similar to Times Of Grace-era Neurosis, but only in fragments. Of course Funeral Throne stands close enough to the Black Flame. Musically well-thought song textures with tasteful guitar solos, raging stage presence while they kicked the shit out of everyone. They looked tough and pissed-off, they played tight and with full force. I think when they reached ‘Black Magic’ by Slayer on their setlist (they mostly played hymns from their new album, Threshold, coming out again in September) all hells broke loose. The maniacal audience were moshing, headbanging, sprinkling beers (also, wine, yes) and there was more darkness to come at the end of night.
The altar of Inner Awakening
The last band, Inferno is from the Czech-Republic. Inner Awakening was their second assault on Hungarian territories this year (the first was in Total War Fest 3, Körmend) and I was really excited to see them. An almost 20 years active vigor showed us its true-hearted face. During their powerful performance the place changed into a portal of death and destruction: the aura was nearly touchable as the mesmerizing sounds swirled out from the PA system. I felt both terrified and amazed. Something crawled into my consciousness while listening to the infernal music: simply, what the actual fuck is happening here? Don’t get me wrong, it was a strange feel, I just felt I am not walking on the ground anymore. And sometimes magic happens. And Inferno is magic. Dark Magic. This is how real black metal should be played today and they nailed it. I was absolutely satisfied with their set, both visually and sonically. Pure perfection. I also have to mention their inhuman percussion achievement. The new drummer namely M, put Inferno’s music into another dimension. His precise, fast and furious play went well with the evil harmonizing guitar themes. Needless to say, Adramelech’s insane voice was the guiding sword in the final formula. Memorable moments.
In a surreal state we went home totally destructed, psyched and our mind emptied. It was already Saturday and after some sleep (it was more like sweating in a 24/7 sauna) and walking around in town, we gained some delicious energy in a nice, friendly and nearby Mexican restaurant Gringos. I really recommend it. Fortunately we found a cool shop, bought cheap but quality beers for the night and we were ready for rest of the feast.
Stay tuned for the second day of the Inner Awakening Festival.
A live report by Lupus Canis – MMXV.