Oct 27th, 2017, 06:18 PM

A Shadow Over Paris

By Ian Tillotson
Image Credit: Unsplash
The first rule of attending Black Metal band show is you talk to your friends or you talk to no one.

That's the prevailing attitude that the audience members have at the Arkhon Infaustus, Moonreich, Ritualization, and Griffon show on October 20, 2017. The pre-show outside smoking/bar area was filled with five groups of men wearing all black with jackets covered with patches of various metal bands. Nearly everybody had long hair, generally pulled back. The crowd isn't friendly, but it isn't inherently rude either. It's what happens when you're in a room of misanthropes.

The stage area proper opened up about seven minutes later, and a muttering crowd filed into the building. The stage was a raised wooden platform lit by red and purple LEDs. The distinct black metal sound of fast, tremolo (one note or chord played repeatedly at a very fast tempo) picking guitars, double bass cymbal-heavy drums, and hoarse indistinguishable vocals gave notice to what would constitute the night's music. Subtlety is not a Black Metal virtue, and this show certainly demonstrated that. The following is a rundown of the bands and their music style. 

Griffon

The first band of the night was the Parisian newcomers Griffon, with only a demo and an EP release. The musicians performed their songs with a savage and intense energy that would seem uncharacteristic for most scenes. Here, it is the norm. The band isn't terribly innovative, sticking to the genre conventions of fast, aggressive music with the occasional quite an ambient interlude as breathing room. They have the genre signatures down to a science. Their reception was positive, although at odds with the music. They were greeted with cheers and applause, but nothing too raucous.  Despite this, the energy of every member kept the audience's attention rapt, all eyes focused on the stage. The bands come on stage with little to no announcement or forewarning beyond an inaccurate schedule on the wall, they play their set, then they go off stage briefly.

The sense of community comes out in between sets, as the band that previously played helped tear down and set up the next band. This is out of necessity, as running a tight show is essential, but it's something only really seen in smaller shows. In larger shows, there is a crew of tech people to do it and the band only comes out to do a quick sound check. After Griffon leaves the stage, there's a quick break for people to get drinks, merchandise, smoke, etc. It's a short break, only ten minutes or so. Typically, the in-between show breaks are fifteen minutes.

Ritualization

 

The next band is Ritualization, a hybrid of black and death metal (yes there's a difference). The energy worked to top Griffon's as there was more of a variation in the riffs. The band played more with more melodic complexity rather than the simplicity of the first band. Their reception is more enthusiastic, with more headbanging and enthusiasm. This is because people are now two to three drinks in. This is also the only band not from Paris, hailing from Orleans. It goes to show how bands will come from all over to support a scene. They played a variety of songs from their ten-year career and the audience ate it all up.


Image Credit: Unsplash

Moonreich 

After another short ten-minute break, the third band Moonreich appears on stage. Out of all the bands of the night, this one is my personal favorite. They played with an energetic yet brooding energy. A sound that's incredibly dark and energetic. The audience goes a bit wilder at their reception, as the audience gets drunker and warms up to the music. The band prefers the more simplistic style of Griffin than the melodically complex style of Ritualization, but Moonreich is an example of how being simple can be more effective than being complex. There are many similarities to Griffon, as some of the members from Griffon are long-time contributors to Moonreich. They're veterans of the scene and they were my personal favorite of the night.

Arkhon Infaustus 

After the last break, the headlining band Arkhon Infaustus took to the stage. The last band is more in the line of Ritualization than it is with Moonreich and Griffon. This band has been active in the Parisian black metal community since 1997, and after a ten-year hiatus starting in 2007 they came back with a new energy that the audience was ecstatic over. They played with a refined, focused energy that comes with playing music for over twenty years. Despite all of this, I felt that they were the weakest out of all the bands. That may have been because it would be hard to top the energy of Moonreich. 

The Black Metal community, in reality, composes of quiet, introverted people who want to have a few drinks and have a good time.

The greatest shock of the night was that the concert ended fifty minutes earlier than advertised. I had never seen anything like that before in a show, and it makes me wonder if there was a fifth band scheduled to play but canceled due to another obligation. Regardless, it seemed like the audience did not share my confusion, as they got their last drinks and headed home. There's a bit of a reputation that metal communities is "violent, aggressive, and drunkards." The Black Metal community, in reality, composes of quiet, introverted people who want to have a few drinks and have a good time.

That being said, this event was not for the light-hearted. The off-putting (for the uninitiated) demeanor, aggressive loud music, and the grim atmosphere will scare off most people even after thirty minutes. If you don't mind any of that, and want to enjoy music without the pressure of talking to people, and at a cheap price (tickets rarely go above 30 euros), this is the place to be.