Live Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse - Rebellion, Manchester
16th January 2023
Support: W.E.B., Nest Of Plagues, Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy
Words: Sam Jones
Photos: Jacob Schwar (London)
I was unable to catch the first support act but I managed to get in not long before the second band, Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy, came on. It was also nice, throughout the night, to recognise that the gig wasn’t overly sold. The crowd was decently sized yet everyone had plenty of room to move about in, and that’s even taking into consideration the announcement of the Manchester show just a month or so ago. As my first show of this year, it felt good to be back again hearing the rumble of the bass, the excited alarm of friends in reunion and the anticipation of bands upon the stage.
With a name like Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy, we can expect things to get a little sinister. That’s precisely what occurs although these guys are much more atmospheric than the rest of our lineup. They get things running quickly as corpse paint, keyboards and blast beats are par for the course here. It may have only surpassed 7pm by the time they’ve begun but their more laidback approach to theatrically-inspired extreme metal means people are able to soak it all in whilst not needing to go too crazy as of yet.
Nest Of Plagues are much more death metal oriented just by the energy alone that the band are giving off. The power is rising as the crowd is getting wilder even as the clock only reads half seven in the evening. The vocals are rougher and things are getting more ruthless, the lights and sound are more ferocious, drowning the audience in swathes of light that only mirror the escalating drive the audience are gathering.
It isn’t long before W.E.B. take to the stage, as the final support act of the night. The crowd is loosening up as crowd interactions are on the rise. Thunderous riffs consume the venue as macabre intonations become the new norm in Rebellion. Synchronised headbanging is always a joy to behold, especially when you’re a band from Athens, Greece. The band may sport the chunkiest riffs yet of the lineup but that’s doesn’t mean they don’t know how to pick things up which they certainly did; it’s a nice balance of songs to introduce themselves with, to an audience who likely haven’t heard them before. By the end, the band have the audience in their palms and, to an orchestral piece, they leave the stage to a sea of hands and a chorus of applause. But this was only the warmup to the climax of the evening.
Well, after nearly six years to the day when I last saw Fleshgod Apocalypse I return once again to see these crazy Italians pull off some symphonic-infused extreme metal. In what could be amongst their first foray further North than the band have gone in a while (if not ever), Fleshgod come to Manchester before a bellowing, ravenous crowd. They’re one of the few bands when horns can be thrown up to a piano being wheeled onto the stage. Are you really doing it right unless you’re head banging or windmilling to classical music? Because that’s how it felt prior to their appearance on stage. It doesn’t take long for Fleshgod to get the crowd on their side, the crowd are all for it. By the second song in, the crowd are fully at the whims of Fleshgod Apocalypse. But it’s 'The Violation' that gets the first pits opening up as the band hold nothing back, it’s the full tenacity the band are renowned for that’s on full display for all to behold.
More than ten years on from The Agony, Fleshgod still have the unbridled assault such a performance requires. 'Epilogue', a personal favourite of mine, even brings a waltz in the middle of the pit, just before additional synchronised headbanging returns. Needing to cut their set a short just a little in order to get to Paris for their show on January 17th, the band maintain great crowd interaction before launching into 'The Fool' which sees the audience fully on board with anything the band can throw at them. With reluctance, Fleshgod left the stage amidst a cry of celebration, the band are utterly enthralled by the reception Manchester has given them. A fantastic night for all who were they, my first Wall Of Death as well as my first Circle Pit in some time. What a cracking way to christen 2023.
All photo credits: Jacob Schwar