I was already fighting to make it over the Pennines to reach the Manchester Academy 2 for the advertised doors of 18.30 but when I heard that the doors had actually been moved to an 18.00 start I held my hands up and inevitably went on to miss the opening band, Horizon Ignited. To say I was absolutely gutted was a huge understatement as I had heard loads of good reports about the melodic death metal from Finland, they will just have to go on my list of bands NOT to miss next time they are within striking distance.
On a lighter note, I did manage to make it over to the university suburbs for the second support band, and another that I had been highly recommended, The Agonist. As the lights dimmed and the band charged out onto the cramped stage, they absolutely threw themselves into the set with vigour and venom. Vicky Psarakis led the offensive and led it with power and passion, spitting out her vocals with determination and beauty. Each word was delivered with muscle and delicate beauty, each being served with varying degrees of passion and furore, backed up with intricate string work from Marino and Jobin and beefy bass lines from the fretboard of Kells. ‘Orphans’ and ‘Days Before The World Wept’ were absolutely on point tonight and the band constantly interacted with the crowd to try and conjure up some sort of movement, successful in part with a handful of the dedicated followers front and centre. As the band bowed out it was obvious that the set had been one of success, albeit to a disappointingly sparse crowd, but maybe next time the Canadians hit our landscape again they will attract more bodies to which they will be able to ply their impressive trade.
Up next, Hellenic Death Metal of the highest order, and one I was very excited for. Septic Flesh swamped the limited stage with a backdrop and two side drops which left even less room for the Greek Death Metal veterans to be able to dominate. As Spiros et al glided onto the stage all hell broke loose, ‘Portrait Of A Headless Man’ was unleashed upon us and unleashed with power and precision, brutality and violence. The sound they generated through the speaker stacks was immense and fierce, the vocals Spiros spat out were dominant and potent, mighty and formidable throughout. The set progressed with the likes of ‘Neuromancer’, ‘The Vampire From Nazareth’ and my personal favourite, ‘Communion’. The crowd reciprocated the appreciation flowing from the stage, throwing back the love for these Grecian overlords in spades, really absorbing the art being delivered to them and appreciating every single chord and beat for the beauty on which they were constructed. How these Greek demigods are not filling out decent sized venues on their own merit is beyond me, the show they orchestrate was one of power and decadence and a true masterclass in Death Metal of the highest order. Take a bow gentlemen, that truly was perfection personified. Ευχαριστώ
The stage was then transformed, and an impressive drum riser was constructed in front of an imposing backdrop which all added to the anticipation that could be felt for the legendary Death Metal stalwarts that we were about to be carved open by. As Tagtgren took to the stage with his fellow Hypocrisy death soldiers by his side, the confines of the Academy 2 were about to be ripped apart. The set was built around a robust collection from the comprehensive Hypocrisy history, a brutal ‘Worship’ opened the proceedings and set the tone for the rest of the set to be built around. ‘Chemical Whore’ was absolutely mind blowing, as was an impressive ‘Eraser’ and a vicious ‘End Of Disclosure’. The musical score was absolutely perfect, unblemished and mesmerising in its deliverance, each track was dominating and commanding, rugged and venomous yet beautiful in its composition and creation. As the band signed off with ‘Roswell 47’, the evening had truly been an absolutely pummelling showcase of violent Death Metal at its finest. It was and still is, a mystery to me as to why the Manchester venue hadn’t been bursting at the rafters tonight for this lesson in Death Metal, but for the ones who didn’t venture out for one reason or another, all I can sum up is that you missed a treat, a treat of the highest order.