Marduk / 1349 / Withered / Weapon Wreckroom, Toronto ON June 5

Marduk / 1349 / Withered / Weapon Wreckroom, Toronto ON June 5
The energy of every show is different. Some are roiling thunderstorms of pent-up exuberance, whereas others are positively sedate. This show began firmly in the latter category, with most of the early evening audience choosing to perch on stools and nod along serenely rather than run up front and headbang.

Blackened death metallers Weapon were undeterred by this show of restraint, blasting out their hot, sharp set with conviction. Now based in Edmonton, Weapon recorded their early demos in Bangladesh before frontman Vetis Monarch moved to Canada in 2005. Their music is as fresh as it is vicious, and they owned their time onstage with an almost kingly dignity.

Atlanta, GA's Withered were next to claim the stage, drawing a few more audience members to their feet. The great strength of their live performance is in the texture of their music, which is something akin to drowning in molasses mixed with razor blades. The feedback-drenched guitars smother and overwhelm, seem to leak into your eyes and mouth, and fill them with sound.

Writhing onto the stage, 1349 delivered a blistering set that finally broke through the crowd's malaise and left the Wreckroom a little darker than it was before. Vocalist Ravn, strode around the stage like he owned it, gauntlets on his wrists adorned with twisted railroad spikes. Bassist Seidemann performed his set cloaked entirely in black robes, even his hands smeared with paint. "I Am Abomination" and "Sculptor of Flesh" were delivered with a restrained yet devastating energy, like a carefully aimed flamethrower.

Headliners Marduk began their performance after a longer interval, attempting to increase the anticipation in the room with an ominous, extended intro (and some serious use the smoke machine). The energy of their set was characterized by a brooding tension, like a coiled snake that occasionally hisses and rears, but never sinks its teeth down into the flesh. The Swedish black metal legends performed a set that balanced material from their latest album, Serpent Sermon, like the titular track and "Souls for Belial," with older favourites such as "The Black Tormentor of Satan." Their stage presence was chilly and authoritative, as though they were delivering a sermon. Man acolytes banged their heads, absorbing every drop of darkness, an eager cauldron of energy bubbling immediately in front of the stage. Others withdrew deeper into themselves, returning to their seats.