It’s a night of celebration in London as blackened post metal band, Underdark have released their new album ‘Managed Decline’ through Church Road Records. An album of the year contender, it has brought Underdark out of the gloom and there is a lot of anticipation for this show.
You can’t move for gigs in London right now, which does go some way to explain the lack of bodies in the room tonight, but it’s still disappointing to not see this show packed out. Underdark deserve a packed room, and London let them down, even if those who did come along made sure they knew how beloved this band is.
Not just them either, as metallic hardcore band Cruelty are getting things started in noisy and aggressive fashion. There’s a dynamic blend of heavy sounds on offer from these guys. Creating abrasive levels of hardcore sounds with an early metalcore vibe. At times, razor sharp and at others, serrated. Either way, Cruelty’s live show cuts through and leaves the ears ringing.
While, initially, the energy isn’t in the room, as the metallised groove and stompy aggression takes hold, the electricity starts to bounce around. Helped enormously by the way the vocalist stalks the stage and encourages heads to bang. An easy request to adhere to as Cruelty’s sound is infectiously heavy and they bring it live.
By contrast, Underdark are a much more atmospheric band, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have everyone going absolutely nuts here. The talent in their ranks, exemplified by frontwoman Abi, is something else. The tightness of their sound, sounding both brutally black and deeply post-orientated emotive, is so impressive. If you had any doubts that Underdark could capture the sound of their studio music in the live environment, those are blown away here.
The cacophony of noise that comes from the blacker side of their music is akin to being hit in the face with a brick. The morose melodies and thick atmosphere is akin to having your soul torn from your body. Underdark are simply stunning, and their performance is entrancing. Especially when you have a frontwoman who seems almost possessed by the music. Roaring, screaming, shouting, and generally performing with devilish glee.
It’s job well and truly accomplished, even if it does end a bit earlier than most would have liked. It’s all good though, Underdark have more than satisfied, and both they and Cruelty have demonstrated that the metal scene, in general, is very safe in their hands.
Underdark & Cruelty at Downstairs at the Dome, Tuffnell Park, London (24/11/23)
Underdark - 9/10
Cruelty - 8/10