The lineup for this evening was, originally, the mighty Inquisition, Italian black/death occultists Mortuary Drape, and homegrown horror show Negative Plane. Total blight, total death, total support from the underground hordes (both forum-dwelling and ticket-buying). Unfortunately, due to bungled travel arrangements (lookin’ at you, Rites of Darkness fest) and Negative Plane's decision to bow out, sometime over the past couple months tonight’s ritual metamorphosed into an entirely different beast. Thankfully, the minds behind this event (BBQ Booking, comprised of several members of Natur and Electric Assault Records - the folks that brought you Pilgrim’s soon-to-be-classic Forsaken Man tape) pulled together a more than worthy replacement bill, featuring NJ pillars of death Disma and NYC black metal horde Agrath (who count Negative Plane’s D.G. amongst their ranks).

Walking down into the sublevel venue, our senses were immediately under attack. The whole room smelt of smoke and black leather, and the attendees seethed in a monochromatic mass. The joint was packed, almost uncomfortably so, and fighting our way to the front was a formidable endeavor. It was worth it, though, to get close enough to see the sweat pouring down Craig Pillard’s furrowed brow and watch his eyes roll back in his head, hands splayed, as he tore guttural growl after guttural growl from his wretched vocal chords. The riffs came hard, thick, and heavy, bubbling up from the primeval ooze. Bathed in red light, faces contorted in concentration, long hair dripping -- Disma looked like a cadre of cavemen, wielding their instruments with heavy-handed precision, hammering out primitive odes to dead gods. The sound, atmosphere, and performance was everything we could have asked for. While Disma’s set felt far too short, they made one hell of an impact.

Inquisition’s inimitable interpretation of that which we call black metal is an acquired taste to be sure, but once they draw you into their cult, there is no turning back. With The Studio packed to the gills with wild-eyed fanatics and curious newcomers, the burning anticipation for their set was palpable until finally, they appeared.

With more than 20 years of blasphemy under their bullet belts, it’s no surprise that the duo seemed perfectly fluid, locked in, and in sync with one another onstage. Inquisition are a well-oiled machine, kept slick with the blood of sacrifice. Dagon’s vocals, often mocked by the uninformed for their “robotic” or “froggy” qualities on record, come across in a much more organic, hypnotic fashion when witnessed live, and tonight was no exception. Drawing from earlier releases as well as from 2011’s triumphant Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm, the two men onstage paid tribute to Lucifer with every breath and every beat. Punters crowded up against the stage, inches from Dagon’s boots. Across the venue, hair flew, beers were knocked out of slippery hands, feral cries of joy sounded.

That night, New York belonged to Inquisition. Ave Satanas.

— Kim Kelly

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Photos by Greg Cristman. Click here to see more of his photos at his site.