Tonight’s gig fell victim to a catalogue of changes, the move from its original base in Nottingham to the Rebellion in Manchester, and more recently the door times moving to the early shift of 18.00 hours prompt. . This together with an ill advertised campaign meant for an initially poor attendance for the openers of this eclectic bill of extreme metal, and a turnout which, although it increased for the more well-known household names on the bill, numbers were still poor all evening.

First up were Argesk and unfortunately this home grown black metal horde played to an almost empty floor beneath them. As they strode into the set they gradually enticed several bodies to the forefront. The troop started off with malice and intent, and as they pulverised their way through ‘Realm Of Eternal Nights’, swiftly followed by ‘Adversary’, the momentum had encouraged a few of the heads in attendance to nod along with an air of appreciation. The blackened quartet then paused mid set in order for the keyboardist to attempt an interaction with the crowd, simply by posing the question to determine if we were ready for the tour headliners, Enthroned, to which only a handful of replies were voiced back to him, much to his obvious disapproval, this then led into a ferocious ‘Trapped In Freezing Waters’. This local talent were overflowing with rawness and enthusiasm which was coupled together with intricacy and precision; all adding to the mystical air which had been created by the fog and stage back lights being utilised throughout the precious 30 minutes set time. The vocals were raw and malevolent in their execution and they worked effortlessly with the strings and percussion of these up and coming artists.

The 30 minutes was soon up and as the local lads exited the spotlight, the stage was dressed in readiness for the Italian doom laden riffs of Caronte.

As the lights faded away, all attention was drawn to an altar which had been set up centre stage, dressed and adorned with some form of a stone tablet, flanked by lit candles and two flags either side with some encrypted message sitting proudly on them. As the band emerged, they exuded power and brutality. Dorian Bones was last to enter the stage, knocking together bones in a ritualistic manner as he paced to the centre of the stage before worshipping, momentarily, before the altar. He then turned and the band unrelentingly unleashed a brand of doom and intensity which was edged by a demonic black metal hint.

For most of the set the band stood, poised to attention, while Dorian Bones played the part of the maniacal tyrant, stalking the stage with presence and intent. As much as Doom isn’t one of my preferred genres, I could still appreciate this set to a degree and the set was delivered with a quantity of passion and intensity in a faultless exhibition. The bass lines were big and chunky and the guitar held a delicate and intricate form with the drum work being sparked from behind the kit which was pounding and pulverising throughout.

The room had swelled somewhat in preparation for Schammasch and the band emerged with each member fully robed in one guise or another, bar the drummer who wasn’t sporting one of the matching ornate robes in order to give him free movement to batter his kit into submission. The lines were clear and precise and they were powerful and demonic in nature. The vocals were haunting and powerful and resonated with a similarity to the uber giants that are Samael or even the Hellenic black metal behemoths Rotting Christ. The stage was crammed with all four front members taking their place in an orderly line, edging the stage with stature and purpose. The bass was solid throughout, crunching and battering from the off.

A piano concerto opened the proceedings, courtesy of a backing track, before the full soul of the Schammasch war machine pummelled us with brutality and expert precision. ‘Ego Sum Omega’ was the first taste of the Schammasch energy and it was blasted upon us with absolute mega power of colossal proportions with chords and melodies intertwining to create a mesmerising deliverance of precision and intricacy. The vocals were powerful and unrelenting and the whole event created a solid example of blasting and delicate precision made artistry which dived into the very depths of hell and ripped your soul out. Schammasch closed out the set with ‘Rays Like Razor’ and it only added to the raw black metal style which schammasch injected intermittently into their body of work in order to build the complex and varied soul to which their body was moulded to.

Enthroned are masters of their art and tonight each facet of the band exhibited true professionalism and expert knowledge of their chosen trade. Massive blast beats acted as the titanium back bone of the live performance, and the strings either side of the stage acted as the compass, leading the band and their performance through the icy frost ridden forest. The vocals were raw and dirty yet with a platinum gilded edge to them. They were spat out with venom and gave frequent nods to the occult and blasphemy. ‘Cold Black Suns’ provided the material for over half of the set and nothing surfaced from prior to the 2007 giant of ‘Tetra Karcist’ The tracks were all spat out and delivered with passion and malice in equal measures with Nornagest stalking the stage and leading the way with his ferocious and clinical demeanour. Malice and venom were poured out from the stage and this all added to create a beast which wore the make-up of a true classic black metal style. My personal highlight of the set was the massive ‘Silent Redemption’, a progressive track which builds with layers and skins, melodic and malicious in equal measures. This had truly been a successful outing for the black metal Belgium juggernaut and one that definitely needs to grace us again with their black soul in the not so distant future.

The evening had been a true lesson in how diversity can be married together with breath-taking and enviable results, creating a catastrophic, exhilarating and triumphant spectacle, and one we should definitely support more in the future.

Review and Photos Phil Pountney