The Razor’s Edge – Gig of the Year 2023

The Razor's Edge - Gig of the Year 2023

In terms of live music 2023 has been up there as one of the best years for both quantity and quality. Here at The Razor's Edge our team have brought to you coverage of as many of those shows as possible. Trying to pass on in words and pictures what an experience those shows were.

Now we discuss our favourite shows of the year. Which show made each staff members top pick?

Cat Finch - Editor in Chief


The initial sense of disappointment when Anthrax pulled out of this years Bloodstock Festival was soon forgotten when Triptykon  were announced. And this wasn't just any Triptykon performance, this was Tom G Warrior performing Celtic Frost classics on stage once again.

From the opening notes of 'Into the Crypts of Rays' through to the closing of 'Necromantical Screams' that set was special. My 15 year old self was in metal heaven, the pit was insane and crowd surfing opportunities (along side Kerrang! editor Nick Ruskell) were plentiful. To hear 'Circle of the Tyrants' performed live once again was just magical.

Tim Finch - Deputy Editor / Photographer


There was plenty of amazing live performances this year, the opening night of Metallica's M72 tour in Amsterdam just one of them. But then, just a couple of weeks ago, off the back of a stunning album, Green Lung headed out on tour. We were lucky enough to catch them at KK's Steel Mill in Wolverhampton and what a show it was. The venue upgraded after they sold enough tickets to sell out the original venue five times over. The show itself was just majestic (read about it here) and the band are on course to hit the big time very very soon!

Dan Barnes - Writer

Dan Barnes

As ever, there has been some excellent live shows in 2023, from the Discharge show in Wigan back in March, Sepultura’s Bloodstock stealing performance in the summer or Cult of Luna’s mesmerising show at the Ritz in October. I never allow myself to pick an Iron Maiden show as it would be too predictable year-in year-out, so my gig of the year is The Almighty’s Never Say Never show at Manchester Academy on the 1st December. From the opening strains of Resurrection Mutha to the closing bars of Wild and Wonderful, this reunion saw the original line-up take the stage together for the first time since the end of the Soul Destruction tour. Focusing only on the band’s first four albums it was the perfect balance between nostalgia and a full-on rock show. Hearing Full Force Lovin’ Machine and Welcome to Defiance alongside Blood, Fire and Love and Jesus Loves You… But I Don’t made this a no brainer for show of the year in my book. Maybe even without the Maiden embargo? Possibly!

Tom Atkin - Photographer

Tom Atkin

Pendulum @ Download

The one that takes the cake for me though. Has got to be Pendulum (again) at Download. I have been a massive fan of these guys since my late teens. I have constantly missed their performances throughout the years. Seeing them announced for Download meant already I was over the moon.

Then the set itself, a mix of old and new. Bringing out Matt Tuck for Halo. It had everything for me. At festivals, I tend to sit back, I like to just chill and enjoy the music. This set though, I was dancing allllll the way through. Whilst it was probably not the best show of the year, in terms of it being a lower end set so short, they could not have their own production etc. Pendulum also should definitely be at night. For me, this was a peak moment of the year for me.

Carl Black - Writer

Carl Black

When I was eleven years old my brother, who was four years older than me, bought the Iron Maiden documentary 12 Wasted Years. Anyone familiar with that documentary will know it opens up with the promotional video for Stranger in a Strange Land. 11-year-old me always thought it was cool when Bruce would throw his mic stand up and clap on the double snare hit during the intro. Fast forward a few decades and I'm watching Iron Maiden perform Stranger in a Strange land for the first time that I can remember. Without thinking, just before the infamous “double clap, mic stand in the Air” I think to myself “will Bruce do it?” He does indeed do it and I become aware of wetness on my cheeks. Any band, any song, any music that does this to you is surely worthy of the accolade “gig of the year”. (Incidentally this happened a further two times once when they played “Can I Play with Madness” which was the first seven inch that I bought with my own money and there's something about singing “I'm not a prisoner, I'm a free man” at the top of your voice in the company of 20,000 other people that gets your lip trembling.) Iron Maiden’s performance at the London's O2 in July was my gig of the year.

Rick Eaglestone - Writer

Rick Eaglestone

As mentioned, this year also provided some shows that left such an impression they feel they happened only recently. My pick this year was Trivium’s visit to Rock City in August who were joined by Bleed From Within and Orbit Culture who were a particular favourite coming off a strong album Descent. I had been to Rock City a dozen of times or so over the year and this was easily the biggest crowd, highest amount of enthusiasm from both crowd and performers and every band that night gave their all with headliners Trivium feeling like a long-lost friend who effortlessly made you feel as no time had passed and instead of hugs came armed with blast beats, riffs, and screams.

As move into 2024, there are already some strong contenders and some impressive festival lineups so it will be interesting to see where this list goes next year.

Sam Jones - Writer

Sam Jones

Necropolis Festival

After nearly thirty gigs this year, a new record for myself, we’ve come to what I deem my top show of the year. It was close but my heart has set on the single-day festival that was Necropolis, having taken place at New Cross Inn, London, May 20th. With eight bands playing from half three onwards right up to eleven at night, Necropolis was an utterly stellar experience. Vacuous. Mortuary Spawn. Gorgon Vomit. Sequestrum. Coffin Mulch. Chaotian. Slimelord. Undergang. Ever band that played built upon the one preceding it; you’d think the opening band would be a nice and easing way to get an audience on board but when Vacuous began the day’s headbanging it was evident there’d be no mercy.

I met so many old friends there, whether inside the pub which is otherwise tiny and has this lower basement where all the bands and people hung out together, selling vinyls, patches, shirts and longsleeves and more all the while you could order your selection of beers and whiskies and ciders at the bar, ornamented with brass pipework that really sold just how old this place actually was. The party was also viewed outside too, as people went and drank and shared merriment together to cool off when things got heated (literally) throughout the multitude of pits that were breaking out. It was Sequestrum and Chaotian’s debut UK shows each that day and, a big draw for me initially, it ended up being Undergang’s first UK show in several years. Undergang, headlining this year’s Necropolis, championed the day with a set that created potentially the most ruthless and savage pit I’ve ever seen; only by hanging on to a pillar did I manage to stay afoot as the crowd swept and crashed behind me.

Grabbing multiple setlists that day I came away from Necropolis feeling like I, and all who were present, had been part of an extremely exclusive event. I’m hoping this event becomes a mainstay amongst the UK extreme metal scene as it’s a diamond opportunity for the more barbaric and vile seeds of death metal to be given a stage. Considering bands like Hyperdontia, Snet, Morbific, Cryptworm and more have already been announced for Vol. II next year, rest assured that the New Cross Inn is seeing me again same time next year. What a day it was.

William Mawdsley - Photographer

William Mawdsley

Metal 2 The Masses 2023 Manchester Grand Final

Although Municipal Waste rocking up and turning Rebellion into a complete sweat box back in October was an unforgettable experience (in part because I was FINALLY able to see my album of the year contenders GEL live for the first time) my gig of the year has got to be the incredible Metal 2 The Masses 2023 Manchester Grand Final.

Ok, it feels a little like cheating because you could probably fill several separate shows with the amount of bands on the lineup but you just can’t beat an all-dayer of that quality. We partied to Simpsons themed hardcore, danced to genre melting prog rock and just generally threw down to some of the best up and coming bands currently on offer. And oh it was A LOT of fun!

And aside from the top tier talent on stage it was just an overall great feeling seeing the Manchester metal community come out in full force to show their support for rising talent. The 0161 gang do incredible work and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

Matt Noble - Writer

Matt Noble

Arctangent is full of phenomenal live acts throughout its four days, so any headlining band needs some serious weight. Despite seeing the likes of Dvne, Wallowing, Bell Witch, Silverburn and Swans this year, all of whom blew me away, Heilung stood head and shoulders above every band I saw at the festival, and I'd have to say the same for the whole year. Ritualistic, hypnotic, and frankly out of this world, it was unlike anything I've really seen live before. The throat singing could be pretty guttural at times, lending itself nicely to a festival bill with plenty of metal bands, but the war dances, earthy soundscapes, and haunting folk melodies were something completely different. They were shrouded in mystery for a lot of the performance, with a crazy light show that only showed off their silhouettes at times, and the collective barely acknowledged the audience for the whole time. But the nature of the show and the feeling of going through an experience meant that you still felt involved in their ancient magic. Outstanding stuff.

Patrick O'Reilly - Writer

Patrick O'Reilly

The intimate venue of Nottinghams Rescue Rooms gave me a truly cathartic experience as I saw Life of Agony again after a near 30 year wait. Both myself and the band have been through some rough times over those 30 odd years and to be able to share those songs up close and personal was a visceral and humbling experience. This band was always there for me no matter how bad i felt about myself and that night we were united as family. Bonus points for the sheer comedy of a familiar Notts face close to The Razor's Edge for nearly instigating a riot following some heavy handed security being totally out of order with crowd surfers prompting a barrage of vitriol from Life of Agony's vocalist Mina Caputo, a rallying cry from the crowd to storm the barriers and eventually an emotional reconciliation between band, fans and security. A truly moving and memorable night

Richard Oliver - Writer

Richard Oliver

I’ve seen a lot of great gigs this year so narrowing this down to one favourite was especially difficult. I had to think back to the show that left me with the biggest grin on my face at the end and that was easily Midnight and Devastator. Simple and straightforward blackened speed metal was the order of the evening with an overabundance of killer riffs, throat shredding vocals and pounding rhythms ensuring that bodies were smashed, heads were banged and ears were ringing. It was one of the loudest and hottest shows I’ve been to with the intensity of the band’s performances carrying over into the audience who were wild for this speed metal attack. It was the glorious and aggressive heavy metal in its purest form and living proof that heavy fucking metal is still alive and well.

Julian Pepper - Writer

Julian Pepper

Once again, I was privileged to witness a number of great gigs during 2023. In particular, I saw superb sets from the likes of King Buffalo, Domkraft, Elder, Slomatics, Mogwai, DVNE and Mutoid Man.

However, it is a festival performance that will take the accolade of my gig/set of this year. On the Saturday at Bloodstock festival I was honoured to witness Triptykon playing a Celtic Frost set from their classic early material of “Morbid Tales”, To Mega Therion” and “Emperor’s Return”.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Celtic Frost a few times over the years, but this was the best I’ve heard this material played. The legend that is Tom G Warrior stood centre stage with his HR Giger themed guitar and treated the rabid crowd to a set that kicked of with “Into the Crypt of Rays” and included classic CF tracks such as “Dethroned Emperor”, “Procreation (of the Wicked)”, “Jewel Throne”, “Visual Aggression” and, of course “”Circle of the Tyrants!”

The Triptykon of Vanja on bass, guitarist Victor and drummer Hannes were all on fine form and complement Tom G perfectly throughout to make this a truly special occasion.

Did I get in the pit? Yes! Did I crowdsurf to “Circle of the Tyrants”? Of course! And did I (like most around me) have an amazing time hearing some of the most classic and influential metal ever? You bet I did!

Daniel Phipps - Writer

Daniel Phipps

R.A. The Rugged Man @ O2 Ritz, Manchester

So I won't lie I've been slightly slack on live shows during 2023 for one reason or another but looking back I've seen some actual belters. From the return of the classic line up of one of Brooklyn NY’s biggest bands, a 30 year old anniversary of one of the greatest hardcore records ever written and a couple of absolutely monster underground death metal shows featuring the biggest and best from the UK and Europe. The one show that keeps coming back was by the one and only R.A. The Rugged Man which I attended in February. 

Performing at the Ritz in Manchester alongside Jedi Mind Tricks and Immortal Technique R.A. Thorburn walked onto stage and absolutely obliterated the place for 60 minutes, no hype man, no guests (with the exception of a guy in the crowd beatboxing) like a one man wrecking crew to the point the stage manager of the Ritz almost shut the show down. Now I have seen RA before so I knew what to expect but seeing him in a large venue compared to the Jazz Cafe the man’s energy is on another level. What made this performance even better was witnessing RA join Jedi Mind for a rendition of Uncommon Valour which was the piéce de resistance of the whole evening.


Gareth Pugh - Writer


Coalville Metal Invasion

This one goes to the Coalville Metal Invasion, a weekend of up-and-coming UK talent, and topped with a supreme performance from the fantastic Imperium, these guys are so good live, they just need to get a break on a major tour and they will soar!

Jacob Schwar - Photographer

Jacob Schwar

Having mentioned Outbreak Festival in my album of the year piece, it’s obvious that I had a great time there and for that reason chiefly I have to thank Pittsburgh heavy-hitters Code Orange who put on a completely manic and intensive display of heavy music! I’d been seeing this band live since 2018 and this was without a doubt their most intense performance though maybe just as equally was when I saw them supporting Trivium at the Brixton Academy. Though what made this performance stand out was the crowd participation considering there were no stage barriers at Outbreak so you had constant stage invasions of young folk slam dancing and stagediving like maniacs!

Code Orange themselves just seemed so pumped and ready for this particular show, it was the first time seeing them with former drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan now as the frontman and he truly exceled in his new position often rocking out as hard as the fans in the mosh pit with a bit of crowd surfing as well. Their setlist was pretty much a greatest hits including the likes of ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, ‘My World’, ‘Dreams In Inertia’ and a brand new track at the time ‘Grooming My Replacement’ which they opened up with and absolutely tore the venue apart to. A remarkable gig experience to say the least and an absolute highlight of the year that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon… oh did I also mention that I got to interview Reba Meyers from Code Orange the same day as well?

Julian Tanner - Photographer

Julian Tanner

My set of the year goes to a headline set at this years Arc Tan Gent festival. Over the last few years the line up for Arc Tan Gent has never really been my thing, but this year the line up included a few bands I’d seen already, as well as some bands on my must-see list. The week before the festival I entered a competition on Primordial Radio to win tickets, and on the Monday before the festival I received confirmation that I’d won! Not knowing anything about Arc Tan Gent I looked them up and discovered that it’s only 30 mins from my door and that you could come and go as you pleased – ideal. I saw a few bands on the Thursday and Saturday, but on the Friday there was only one band that I wanted to see, so I arrived just before the sub-headliner and made my way into the tent to get as far forward as possible. After their set a few people moved from the security barrier and I was able to take the last few steps to the front, ready for headliner - Heilung.

I knew as much about Heilung as I did about the whole festival – nothing. I just knew I wanted to see them, based on the song Anoana that had been playing on Primordial. To say I was mesmerised from the opening ritual to the closing one would be an understatement. Everything about that set was astounding, from the vocal performances, the constant drumbeat, the meticulous choreography of the 15-20 band members (it was impossible to count an exact number), the stage props and instruments, the wardrobe, lighting and even the smell of incense that was burning throughout was perfect. It wasn’t just a festival performance; it was an experience. I’m really hoping they add some UK dates around next year’s Download appearance, if they do I’ll see you down the front.

Lana Teramae - Writer

Lana Teramae

Rival Sons @ House of Blues, Las Vegas

I haven’t been to many shows in my 25 years of life, but I went to more than usual this year. However, my favourite concert from 2023 goes to Rival Sons at the House of Blues, located at Mandalay Bay Beach Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. First of all, I was very close to the band; in fact, lead singer Jay Buchanan was like 10 feet away from me. Second of all, the setlist was incredible. They played most of their ‘Darkfighter’ album and some of my favorite tracks by them. It’s nice knowing there are still bands out there that enjoy playing new music from their recent albums.

A highlight from the show was when Buchanan performed “Shooting Stars” from ‘Feral Roots’ (2019) on an acoustic guitar; it was a very spiritual and moving performance. Musically, everyone brought their A-game. Guitarist Scott Holiday was like a seasoned pro, delivering such tasteful riffs, all while showing off his impressive guitar collection. Buchanan was also a joy to watch; his showmanship reminds me of Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. I still get goosebumps thinking about the Rival Sons show because it was that awesome!

Liam True - Writer

Liam True

Electric Callboy @ Great Hall, Cardiff

Love them or loathe them, Electric Callboy are one of the most entertaining bands around. Confetti, rave pits in place of mosh pits and the band themselves crowd surfing. Packed together in the sold-out great hall, 1500 other party metal heads were there to rave and mosh like no other band on the planet would make you. A heavily sweaty night that was made incredible by the bands mesmerising performance.

Jon Wigg - Writer

Jon Wigg

A voluptuous day of thrash goodness, you can see my review of it all here.

Matthew Williams - Writer

Matthew Williams

It was a warm summers night, and this was probably the most eagerly anticipated tour of the year, as Carcass embarked on their “Bloody Blighty” club tour of the UK, and they rode majestically for the first time in many years, into their home town. The gig was my highlight for not just the stunning performance of Carcass, as they just get better with age, with the added bonus of Jeff Walker’s mum making an appearance on stage, but the two support acts were also amazing. Conjurer opened up the show with their brand of extreme metal, and I was left dumbstruck by their ability and how utterly amazing they are live.

This was followed by Unto Others, the goth metallers I’d seen a few times before, and they looked so at ease, all dark and atmospheric, with their songs pitched perfectly and laying the stage for headliners Carcass, who played an almost greatest hits set. From “Buried Dreams” to “Black Star”, “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” to “Heartwork” they had the crowd eating out of their hands and made this a memorable performance for all in attendance. This truly was one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen, not just because of Carcass, but all 3 bands put on a show that was first class and had no let up from the first note being struck.

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