Gig Review: Symphonaire Infernus, presented by The League of Doom

For those of you who are currently unenlightened, this gig was not hosted by one of those strange ‘end of days’ cult groups or anything else untoward, as the title might suggest. “But what is this ‘doom’ business all about?” I hear people asking. Well, the main objective of the show was to present doom metal to the curious public in musical form. The League Of Doom is essentially an informal ‘club’ or association of persons – most of whom are musicians – who all have roots buried deep within the doom metal genre. They pulled together their resources in time and skill, and presented a fantastic tribute set consisting of songs by bands such as My Dying Bride, Anathema, Reverend Bizarre, Swallow The Sun, Theatre Of Tragedy, and more. In respect of the date being the 14th of April 2012, the 2nd year anniversary ofPeter Steele‘s death, the musicians even pulled out a Type O Negative classic, ‘Black No.1’, which they delivered to raucous enthusiasm from the audience. While it was not strictly doom, it remains within the realm of gothic metal/rock, which offers sufficient characteristic in parallel to doom, which makes it enjoyable both ways.

As it turned out, Cape Town and surrounding provinces do indeed sport a small contingent of survivors from the 90s era doom scene. I arrived at ROAR to discover that not only had this convention of long-time metallers birthed between 1965 – 1980 arrived, but rather a diverse crowd sporting anybody between eighteen years and fifty! Although not a huge number of people by any means, the venue had been well chosen because the shadowy entities contained therein had it comfortably filled. It was absolutely fantastic to actually attend a show where there seemed a stronger emphasis on the social aspect than just filling the night with noisy bands, and I offer full kudos to them for keeping the atmosphere true to the key focus of the night. A masterfully selected playlist filled our ears whilst in anticipation of the show.

The performance began with no announcement, and I suspect that most people thought it was another track on the playlist. During the first few notes of “Your River” (tribute to My Dying Bride,) the curtains were opened to reveal the stage, occupied at this time by a performance act comprised of members from band such as Axxon, A Walk With The Wicked, Ashes At My Grave, and even members from Cape Town’s 90s doom sensation, Grämlich. Within just a few seconds, the audience was transfixed. This particular track was delivered at a high level of excellence and the passion that the musicians feel for this artist was clear in their performance. Following a very quick trade of instruments by members and the addition of a fresh recruit on vocals, they went on to deliver “And When He Falleth” (originally by Theatre Of Tragedy), and so the evening progressed.

By the end of the performance we had seen no less than ten musicians rotating responsibilities on the stage, with backgrounds from almost as many current and past South African bands. With such an ensemble and with so many instruments and different tunings trading hands, there were a few minor slips – but none of which the audience would not have forgiven considering the overall quality and complexity of the production, and the effort which had gone into it. The evening revealed other members affiliated with The League Of Doom from even more bands such as Crow Black Sky, Terminatryx and Mind Assault, and even one of the key performers experiencing his very first live experience.

What this night represented to a lot of the people involved was not only a celebration of a great sub-genre of metal, but also the fact that it is enjoyed by a diverse composition of people where virtually the only common ground between them is that love which they all share for the dark and dramatic. I think it is safe to say that everybody came away from the night feeling culturally enriched and eager to hear when The League will be doing a follow-up presentation. Maybe it will be six months, or maybe a year or possibly more. However, if there is one thing that is certain, it is that doom metal is alive and well.

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