Last month I attended the very first Deathwave show in Manchester and I commented on how Satan’s Hollow was the ideal place for the promotion which specializes in extreme metal to host regular events. Now the time had come for their return and it was damn good to see such a big turnout for the Merseyside promoter’s second outing in Manchester. Satan’s was bustling with activity as a lively crowd gathered for an evening of pure musical darkness.
Things got off to a brilliant start with Sheffield death metal quintet Xerxes; whose singer Joe’s voice switched seamlessly between thick and gravelly to almost squealed high pitch throughout the early numbers. I really enjoyed the musical juxtaposition these guys established in which thunderously heavy riffs would give way to ambient bass-led melody. At one point the clean guitar work had me in mind of Pink Floyd. Mike’s powerful double bass drumming really cranked up the atmosphere, and I greatly enjoyed ‘We Can Always Grow New Limbs’, in which bassist Liam’s fingers were really stretching. ‘Terracotta Mummification’ featured a sweet guitar harmony between shredders Stuart and Pete, and I found myself admiring a hint of classic metal amidst the crushing death metal. This was quite the perfect start to the night and things were only going to get better.
Blackened death metallers Christgrinder were up next and my word did they crank up the ferocity. Guitarists Baron Von Christgrinde and Count Gripsnatch were frenetic bundles of energy, and their deep vocals contrasted well with the screams of bassist Cardinal Sinne. ‘Whence Cometh Evil’, the title track of the group’s forthcoming debut album, was pure unbridled aggression, which was then hilariously followed up with a Napalm Death-style short number entitled ‘Faster Than The Speed of Darkness’, which lasted mere seconds. Though the set was mostly a collection of balls to the wall pace and fury, in which drummer The Grind Old Duke of York seemed to have the energy of a machine, towards the end things became more layered. The closing number built slowly to a sweat guitar break which subsequently unleashed a well-crafted slice of extreme metal depth. This was a forceful set, and on top of the wonderful musicianship I appreciated the theatrics, especially a sequence involving a dark monologue and tearing up pages of Holy Scripture. Quite apt in a venue that has an enormous devil as part of the décor.
Things then took a turn towards the elaborate with a performance by progressive folk metal outfit Northern Oak. Complete with a flautist and keyboard/violin player these guys wasted no time in cranking up an exceptional and elegantly unique sound. What I really liked about this performance was how, for the first time since I have been reviewing gigs at this venue, it felt like a band got the full Satan’s atmosphere. By this I mean that the circular stage area which the group occupied was almost surrounded by fans, creating a lively yet still intimate vibe. The Sheffield ensemble still list themselves as unsigned but I can’t believe that will stay the case for very much longer. Their epic style belongs on much bigger stages in front of much larger audiences, and I really hope to see that happen in the near future.
The sizeable crowd inside Satan’s Hollow had enjoyed a nicely varied but consistently tremendous night of music but it’s no understatement to say they lost their shit when headliners Old Corpse Road took to the stage. Long-haired heads were banging all around, enjoying the really full sound of a band taking advantage of the great Satan’s Hollow acoustics. The vocal back and forth between guitarists The Bearer and The Revenant was sumptuously heavy, and just as with Christgrinder earlier these vocals contrasted well with those of bassist The Wanderer, though his words were spoken in a monologue rather than screamed. The Dreamer’s drumming during ‘The Cauld Lad of Hylton’ was phenomenal, and the track as a whole was truly impressive. As the set went on the keyboard work of The Watcher added real weight to the overall sound of what was a crushingly good group performance, especially on ‘The Oakmen of Naddle Forest’. By the time the tremendous sing-along during signature closing track ‘Old Corpse Road’ was over it seemed like the crowd as a whole had shared an out of body experience, and as the sweat drenched metalheads made their way out of the building there were no complaints; this had been a show and a half. Deathwave Entertainment had once again put one a spectacular bill of awesome bands, and the future looks bright for the Liverpool extremists as they look ahead to a show headlined by Primitive Graven Image at the same venue at the end of March. We’ll definitely be there!
1) The Cauld Lad of Hylton
2) Hob Headless Rises
3) Glassensikes at Witching Hour
4) The Oakmen of Naddle Forest
5) The Witch of Wookey Hole
6) Old Corpse Road
Review: Michael Dodd