Emergency Gate provide the muffliato soundtrack to one's entrance into the grand interior of The Koko Lounge. My eyes are met by the less impressive sight of around forty punters milling around zombie-esque in front of the stage. I can't blame the band for this weak turn out; 1800 on a cold January Monday speaks for itself. Having said this, the frontman's generic metal bullshit exhortations are misguided, even if they are well meant. A muddy sound slops all over the proceedings, the anthemic strains of Emergency Gate's music sullied by 'opening band blues'. Although this is probably neither the time nor the place to fully appreciate this septet -- for the first time, in my case -- their metal sounds well cut, if a little faceless.
Eluveitie get a much more enthusiastic response from the swelling crowd, and now it seems as if the gig is truly underway. I am shocked to hear that the plethora of instruments and musicians on the stage does not comprise the band's full line-up, but I doubt that the missing extras would have made too much of a difference to the performance. The murky timbre of Emergency Gate has lingered to bother one's engagement receptors, and though the sound of the band becomes more distinguishable as the set goes on, I am not entirely enthralled by their folky marriage of trad metal and some old Celtic bollocks. Having said this, I may be the only one left toe tapping and distractable, as most of the assembled throng give the band a heroes welcome, hair flying and fists pumping in triumph. As the set builds to a climax, Eluveitie's enthusiasm is mirrored by an audience who just can't get enough, and this cynical hack is left eating humble pie as the band's soulful anthems begin to break down his defenses.
Next up, Caliban. Having once seen this mob open up for Machine Head, I knew what to expect. Caliban deliver to the very last exactly what I had in mind; the audience is bludgeoned with half an hour of breakdowns thinly dressed up as songs. The first pits of the night begin in earnest, the sound of the band is slickly thunderous: they competently provide the goods. I can't say I love their formulaic chugalug material, but other people in attendance do, and I can't help but be impressed by the professional and tight execution. However, their floppy-fringed emocore vocalist begins to grate on me too much and, as the band outstay their welcome, it seems I'm not alone. The expected catcalls for the main attraction begin to resound around the bar.
So to the main event. There is but one band that the hordes have turned out for tonight and that is Kreator. Without keeping us waiting, the veterans of thrash hit the stage, now adorned with backdrops, and take full command of their audience. Mille Petrozza is an impressive and masterful frontman with a vocal delivery that his contemporaries can only hope to match; his performance tonight is seemingly flawless, as is the band's. Every song blasts out with an immediancy and an intensity that cannot be ignored, and the pit just gets rougher and rougher. ["Pleasure to Kill", "Terrible Certainty" and "Betrayer" were particularly pummeling, to my recollection --Proofreader PS] In a set that keeps upping the ante, the _Hordes of Chaos_ material fits in seamlessly, and the quality of the new opus is successfully put to the test. As anthem after brutal anthem hits the crowd, the atmosphere is transported from humdrum to jubilant, and it all just seems perfect. If only we all weren't dragging our carcasses to work tomorrow...