The UK seems to be blessed with extreme metal this year, with countless tours rolling across the country there is a consistent supply of metal’s heaviest bands to cater for the community. On the back of the annual Incineration Festival in the capital, MARDUK, one of black metal’s biggest names, marched up north for a promised feast of blast beats. With a stacked bill in tow, the event promised to pummel the eardrums but did it live up to the promise?
ORIGIN seemed to have always been one of those bands that are a favourite across the board in the death metal community. Consistent albums and frequent UK performances over the last decade has made the band a solid name in the UK and their performance confirmed that. Opening with the chaotic Expulsion of Fury the band set the tone for the performance in fine fashion; frantic and chaotic death metal with enough technical prowess to dazzle those in attendance. The band acted as a unit for the large majority of their set, combining well to deliver the carnage. Paul Ryan‘s guitar play was venomous, inciting chaos throughout the set, and consistently showboating with intricate and mind-boggling solos and John Longsteth‘s drumming was nothing short of immense. Mike Flores‘ bass tones kept the tone admirably low throughout and Jason Keyser dominated the stage; providing vocal deliveries that matched the standards death metal demands and kept the crowd entertained throughout. Sure, ORIGIN‘s performance didn’t smash new ground, but this was a performance that emulated professionalism from start to finish and demonstrated why the band a solid name in the death metal community.
IMMOLATION are a different beast however. The New Yorkers have held a vice-grip on the death metal world for decades and prior to the band taking to the stage there was a feeling of great anticipation in the air. As the band roared into life through opener All That Awaits Us, the packed venue exploded into a sea of headbanging and chaos in the pit. Riffs levelled the room and blasts kept the rhythm flowing at a frantic pace. With the setlist covering all bases of IMMOLATION‘s lengthy career, there was enough to keep everyone in attendance pleased. Father, You’re Not A Father, Majesty and Decay and Into Everlasting Fire all made appearances here and it served to cater for the fans. A smart move, as each track was met with roaring reception.
As for the band’s performance as a whole, it was nothing short of sublime. Steve Shalaty‘s drumming was magnificent throughout the course of the set, keeping the destructive force driving at top gear, Robert Vigna and Bill Taylor‘s guitar works were that destructive in power it felt like the sound could level the building and Ross Dolan‘s vocal deliveries replicated their studio sound in fine fashion. It had been year’s since IMMOLATION last performed in Manchester and following that, you get the feeling that everyone in attendance had just witnessed something truly special. No compromise and no mercy, death metal performed at it’s absolute finest.
Changing the tone somewhat, headliners MARDUK have dominated the black metal world for years. With the band’s latest record, 2015’s Frontschwein, still fresh in fan’s minds it made sense that MARDUK‘s set largely consisted of material from the newest record. Opening with the title track, the band set the tone in an instant; utter devastation. The rhythm throughout the performance was kept at all time high with Fredrik Widigs serving blast beats like they were going out of fashion and frontman Mortuus owned the stage through a charismatic stage presence, holding the audience in a trance through his vocal snarls and growls.
With the newest material holding up, MARDUK really showcased their influence through the performance of older material. Panzer Division Marduk still sounds as ferocious live as it did in 1999, Glorification of the Black God sounds utterly venomous in the live environment and Materialized in Stone was met with thunderous applause. Throughout this, the band reflected a well-oiled machine with each member performing their respective duties admirably. MARDUK have been a leading name in black metal since it exploded back in the 1990s, and 26 years after their evil emergence, tonight’s performance is testament to the band’s ability to still sound as evil, ferocious and utterly thunderous as they have across their lengthy career. The black metal war machine marches on.
For more information on MARDUK check out their official Facebook page.