Akercocke – The King Is Blind – Impavidus: Live at Academy 3, Manchester UK

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One of Manchester’s brightest up-and-coming lights opened this autumn evening, the first night of a huge week of metal in the city. Impavidus were as tight as hell, the commonly-used MeloDeath soubriquet seeming very wide of the mark despite Michelle Adamson’s staggering use of harsh and clean vocals and some howling leadplay from Gav Smith.

Impavidus, by Rich Price Photography

Impavidus, by Rich Price Photography

The rhythm section of Paddy McBride and Chris O’Rourke brought crushing grooves, not least within ‘Lies’ and ‘Scourge’ which laid waste to the sparsely-populated yet hugely supportive room. A thoroughly professional outfit possessing invention, a shitload of groove and some hostile tunes, the locals have a band to be very proud of here.

The King Is Blind with Winterfylleth’s Chris Naughton, by Rich Price Photography

The King Is Blind with Winterfylleth’s Chris Naughton, by Rich Price Photography

Stephen John Tovey’s low hiss, as devilish as a Christopher Lee whisper, was the first vocal input from Essex slayers The King Is Blind, and it stood as high as the galloping instrumentation, here supported by ShrinesMatt Adnett filling in for bassist Ceri Monger. Debut long-player Our Father (Cacophonous Records) is rightfully regarded as one of 2016’s finest albums and the live explosion – the first time it’s been heard in this fair city – was greeted with unfettered glee. With Tovey flicking between wild grins and brutal snarls, the Doom-laden ‘Mors Somnis’ nevertheless showed a variation in stage presence and sound, further augmented by new album teaser ‘GodFrost’ which displayed elements of Punk and Grind. Introducing the feral, emotive ‘All The Daemons Are Here’, Tovey welcomed Winterfylleth’s Chris Naughton to the stage to reprise his album role: it was a special moment of a very special set from a bunch of guys who are going to be very big indeed.

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

A guy at the bar, looking for all the world like an Economist-reading Metalhead, coolly waited to be served amongst the barrage of noise. Suddenly, from nowhere, said geek commences a brief yet violent headbanging session, before subtly sweeping his hair back and continuing his calm quest for beer. This is just one result of the quaint yet savage power of Akercocke, one of England’s most eccentric yet beloved Extreme bands. Jason Mendonça is once again shorn of those famous locks and the tweed suit, choosing instead to wield his axe bare-chested whilst showing off that amazing vocal array: the band purveying their Blackened invention around him, Paul Scanlan’s Coverdale-esque barnet bobbing away with gay abandon. Sadly, strobe lighting flickered far too much but the ferocious beauty, the Jazz-inflected switches within the enthralling violence, bewitched the adoring throng with many punters emotional at seeing three-quarters of the original line-up after so long away. New track ‘Disappeared’ was greeted like a magic spell, promising the same invention and mysticism as the material of old; whilst another new track, ‘Inner Sanctum’, showed the delicate melodic side of this charming yet brutal outfit, Mendonça declaring “No matter how fucked up everything becomes, it can be fixed.” Crowd favourite ‘Leviathan’ closed the main set before encore ‘Sea of Mourning’ dropped the curtain on a wonderful, highly charged and inspiring night.

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

Akercock, by Rich Price Photography

The King Is Blind, by Rich Price Photography

The King Is Blind, by Rich Price Photography

Impavidus, by Rich Price Photography

Impavidus, by Rich Price Photography

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WORDS BY PAUL QUINN

PHOTOS BY RICH PRICE