On paper this line up was a feast of extremity from various quarters of the globe as I arrived in Sheffield pondering our mental weather as the temperature was more spring like than wintry. Early door times seem to plague the gigs I have attended during 2015 and this was no different with the doors being six o’clock and meant that catching all the bands for some was nigh on impossible due to traffic issues, mainly rush hour and meant walking into the venue as Sathamel were on stage to a small but energetic crowd in the smaller of the two rooms at the Corporation venue. The band was mid set and though they had a short time on stage the impact of their onslaught was palpable as the sound was monstrously loud for the whole gig. Closing with “Eternal Hunters” the band got this gig off to a ferocious start that continued with Liverpool black metal nihilists Ethereal whose stage presence was excellent as vocalist Naut predatorily stalked the stage with aplomb and confidence decked out in arm band spikes. The intricacies of “Overwrite The Archetype” were beaten into submission due to deluging bass which rendered parts of their songs to a muddy pulp unfortunately. Continuing with “Bloodstained Martyr” Naut was rolling his eyes back to produce a possessed and demonic look which fitted perfectly within the context of the bands slaying assault. With their set time limited the band was quickly onto the finale as “Unholy Ungodly” sliced through the audience which had increased in numbers to leave them cheering for more.
Polish band Hate has been around for over 20 years and have multiple quality releases in their discography and blazed on stage through a wall of bass that felt like I was listening to them submerged in a barrel of tar. The plague of the writer was announcing the song titles in a croaking growl as they pulverised the crowd with “Resurrection Machine” and saw the first pit action of the night as the audience numbers had swelled considerably for the band. The kick drum during the set annihilated a lot of the guitar unfortunately and whilst people may like their gigs loud it often submerges the songs of extreme metal bands to the point of oblivion. Whether the tour had their own sound guy or was an in house sound engineer I felt that loudness was preferred over balancing the instruments and it is likely the bands had a great sound for themselves but left the audience drowning in murk. On stage Hate were vicious, their brand of hybridised black and death metal was appreciated by many and weirdly the band had the biggest crowd of the evening as people seemed to leave when they finished.
I must admit if given a choice between black or death metal I would side with the deathly beast as US pulverisers Vital Remains came on stage after a steady build up that launched their set off with “Where Is Your God Now”. With only Tony Lazaro as the sole founding member he was backed up by a battalion of renegade deathsters rounded out by the charismatic frontman Brian Werner who catalysed much pit action and continually berated the crowd for action to which they dutifully obliged. I was hoping for some improvement in the sound but it didn’t occur as “Icons Of Evil” pummelled out of the PA like a war machine. Talking to the crowd Brian taunted them stating ‘I wanna see some blood’ as he ventured to the stage left speaker and stood on it as the crowd looked up wondering what the hell he was going to do next. Dedicating “In A World Without God” to the audience and for 26 years of support I am pretty sure much of the audience were 26 years old themselves as the tune detonated like a sonic incendiary device for the pit to continue their exercise which for some was probably the most exercise they’ve ever had. Another dedication came next to Frank Watkins the ex-Obituary guy who died very suddenly a couple of months back as “Hammer Down The Nails” blasted forth after Brian asked for a wall of death which was violent as people succumbed to gravity and hit the floor. As their set approached its end an intro of O Fortuna from the Carmina Burana set up “Dechristianize” to close their energetic and battering set.
Austrian band Belphegor has seen their popularity rise in recent years with plenty of touring and festival slots to catapult them into the more mainstream extreme metal elite so I was surprised that the crowd for the band was less than the two bands preceding them. Setting up their stage with the usual ossuary encrusted microphone stands plus a gasmask adorning the middle one. Prior to that a friend overheard a young couple chatting to each other to which the lad stated he was looking forward to Behemoth tonight! The band arrived on stage under shroud of red light which seemed to be the preferred colour for most of this gig as the band opened with “Feast Upon The Dead”. Stage presence was minimal as the guys tore through a savage set of songs that saw “Gasmask Terror” increase the speed and barbarity of their set. Slowing things down a tad with “Black Winged Torment” the crowd chanted oi oi oi obediently as the tune built steadily as the sound seemed to be progressively getting louder during their set. As a pause ensued Helmuth croakily growled ‘thank you Sheffield’ to which one guy in the audience croakily growled back ‘you’re welcome’ which got a wry smile from the band and a snigger in the audience. Whilst the band was not the most animated I’ve ever seen the power of “Bondage Goat Zombie” was palpable as a long pause before closing with “Bleeding Salvation” which was announced as the last song of this ceremony. I am sure that many at this gig thoroughly enjoyed the relentless music on offer but I was left slightly disappointed that the mud infestation of the sound destroyed much of all the bands subtleties.
Words: MARTIN HARRIS Photos: © ANDY POUNTNEY