Thursday 2 October 2014

Live Review: Farseer / Ancient Ascendant / Darkest Era @ Manchester Sound Control. 26th September 2014

Gigs at Sound Control on certain days are an odd entity. On this particular night, there was an early finish in place due to a club night afterwards. This meant that the opening acts were on stage very early doors.

Scotland's Farseer took to the stage at the hideously early time of 6.55pm. Consequently, the crowd was sparse. I tip my hat to the band though. Their galloping sound and falsetto vocal style was delivered with good energy on a stage where if you put just one more amp on or move that little bit might get hurt! The band influences were obvious in their attire. The band were sporting Helloween, Iron Maiden and Primordial shirts amongst their ranks.

Ancient Ascendant are a band that I've followed and had a lot of time for since I saw them with the legendary Enslaved and the mighty Winterfylleth last year. I was looking forward to hearing some of the new material played live after being unfamiliar with it at Black Country Metal Fest earlier this year.

Luckily, a large clutch of the set list was dedicated to the quite superb 'Echoes and Cinder'. Whilst the new album material sounds sublime, the band trawled their back catalogue. 'Under Ancient Stone' was a particular highlight. Its shift between black metal monster and traditional groove oriented rock is a complete and utter firecracker of a track. The closing riff and groove is the absolute bollocks. I sincerely hope that Ancient Ascendant gain the accolades they deserve in the not too distant future.

Darkest Era’s bow finally came and they bounded on stage to deliver a rip roaring set full of impassioned Celtic tinged metal. The five piece sounded incredibly tight and mixed material up well from their two album releases. The crowd for the show was still not huge; I can only assume that metal fans had the night off to go see Kylie…however, the passion from the band reverberated with the crowd and the atmosphere was great, with people that really cared about the music and helping to keep the vibrant metal scene in Manchester ticking.

From the opening of 'The Serpent & The Shadow' to the closing of 'The Morrigan', Darkest Era were bombastic in their playing and delivery of the songs. With vocalist, Krum, venturing into the crowd to sing many of the songs, it was hard not to feel encapsulated by a band that has a whole host of epic metal songs in the same vein as Primordial, with many nods to heroes such as Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden (see Sons of God & Men).

Highlights of the set included a fantastic version of 'Beyond The Grey Veil'; which could make a claim to take the place of any track on Load or Reload in the mid 90’s and thrash any of those other tracks into submission. The penultimate track of the evening was the self-titled track of the bands’ first full long player; 'The Last Caress of Light'. Clocking in at eleven minutes, it was a joy to hear such a precisely honed track played live with such aplomb.

Overall, the evening was a superb showcase of bands proving themselves in a market that is hard to crack. Markets don’t matter when you can travel from town to town and make friends who all share a common love; metal. If you get the chance to catch any of these bands live, make sure you get involved.

Words by: Dominic Walsh