The air was thick with fog when Toronto duo Sortilegia began their performance at the Smiling Buddha. With a table sitting front centre adorned with candles, incense and a skull, the act set the tone for the evening.
Vocalist and guitarist Koldovstvo emerged from the haze adorned in a black cloak with red face paint dripping down her face. Quickly, she established a Demonic Christ-style presentation, swaying and gesticulating in a dream-evil fashion while unleashing Inquisition-style repetitive layered riffing alongside croaking howls. Drummer Haereticus provided a relentless backbone for the band's tight and hypnotic layered hymns. While the intentionally oppressive combination of smoke and thick incense was stylistically impressive, it became occasionally overwhelming, but that was precisely the point. The performance was an onslaught on the senses.
Prior to performing, Montréal black metal act Gevurah had the house lights lowered so the venue was cloaked in inky blackness, save for the tiny bright blue lights emitting from their amplifiers. Anticipation in the boisterous, drunk crowd was high for the Profound Lore band, which contains members of Cauchemar. As they entered the stage, each member individually anointed themselves with incense burning on the table now perched in front of the drum kit. Then, they took their positions on stage.
Gevurah's sound was loud and dense as they delivered a similar musical and visual style to Sortilegia, complete with facial blood smears. After playing the first portion of their set in blackness, they somewhat comically dragged the table to the same position as Sortilegia, establishing a stronger ambiance than that delivered through the dark.
Their music became increasingly interesting as the drummer often intentionally off-beat driving rhythms, occasionally veering into a somewhat tribal style while skilful pinch harmonics and reverb-drenched, croaking vocals accompanied them. The kick drum beat variants were of particular note; they differentiated the ritualistic and occult black metal act from their openers.
The bill, which also included openers Ossuaire, was exceptionally curated, although it suffered at times from sameness: all three bands were visually and musically quite similar. That said, the atmosphere and quality was established and maintained from the first hideous note to the last, making the evening a triumph. This was the best black metal show that Toronto has hosted thus far in 2017.