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Mortiis, TOMB, and Magick Potion Bewitched Chicago (Live Review + Photos)

What an eclectic lineup — between local ambient/drone duo Magick Potion, the ritualized black industrial madness of TOMB, and the legendary Mortiis’s fantastical keyboard musings, Reggie’s Rock Club was at the very least in for an eclectic evening. And what weather! It was just delicately snowing and the temperature was barely below freezing. It was time for dark, brooding music.

Magick Potion‘s burbling drone was earth-shattering, or at least it felt as if the world was breaking at times. The duo of Jason Wayne Sneed and Vivian Yanzhe Yu’s broad sounds and unique sense of sound collaging was an unexpected, but welcome addition to what was largely a metallic (or metal-adjacent) night of music.

I still recall the days when TOMB (short for TOTAL OCCULTIC MECHANICAL BLASPHEMY) was a blackened ambient solo project — one where enigmatic frontman “No One” would adventure into haunted places and take haunting field recordings. The TOMB of 2020 is a very different beast, whose industrialized black metal noise horror shook the soul of the venue to its core. Though most of the band was stagnant, without much movement, it was No One’s enraged performance — pacing the stage and pounding on his sample pad with a mallet — which gave TOMB’s set the energy it really needed.

With an ornate stage setup, Mortiis — legendary fantasy ambient (“dungeon synth”) overlord and former member of Emperor (very important) — closed out the night. Flanked by large, shadow-casting structures and behind a branch-adorned podium, Håvard “Mortiis” Ellefsen’s own static (if maybe dancing to himself a little) performance was less about himself and more about setting. His music has always been like that: a place more than a sound, a setting more than an album. In his set, Mortiis took the Reggie’s audience to fantastical places — snapshots of battlefields, castles in the distance, and dark dungeons.

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