First band for the evening were the Mancunian mouthful that is Inconsessus lux lucis, try saying that fast after you’ve had a pint. With a name like that and a bill like this you’d be forgiven for expecting so straight up black metal. That being said the fact they’re on I, Voidhanger also makes you expect the unexpected.
Inconsessus lux lucis were good, playing a mix of styles within a Blackened framework: Not quite black metal but a similar vibe, they ranged from BM to Heavy metal. They had a heavy driving beat to them, backed up with a heavy punchy bass. Their set a surprising amount of groove at times, coupled with decent riffs and crusty dry vocals. They certainly got the attention of the ¾ full Academy 2 who gave them a large round of cheers at the end.
There was a lot they did right, but given the theatrics of the rest of the bill, their somewhat static performance on stage let them down a little, the notable exception being the bass player. Whilst a decent enough set I was left expecting a little bit more from them after having heard their music on Bandcamp.
Next up were Dragged into Sunlight who put on a performance which defies mere words. An absolute unrelenting assault on the senses, playing as they’ve always done with their backs to the audience, covered with minimal red light and the main focal point of the set being a plethora of deer skulls.
When the music kicks in the stage show is then punctuated by a several thousand-watt strobe light on the drum riser. The effect is utterly disorienting for most, probably one of the rawest and most visceral live performances you’ll ever witness.
At one point whilst making the precarious move of trying to move anywhere in the photo pit I tripped over someone who was either in the process of an epileptic fit or had been utterly broken by the performance, crawling up the barrier backwards with a really disconcerting look of sheer terror on his face, I can only assume it was the latter when he stumbled out of the photo pit. The scene reminiscent of something out of a war movie.
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Dragged many times over the last ten years, and tonight’s performance showed just how much they’ve progressed. Easily their most solid performance to date the drumming was an absolute tour de force of power and precision and combined with the strobes created an otherworldly atmosphere in the academy 2. An absolutely killer performance, they have shown themselves tonight to be future legends on the extreme music scene.
To finally see Mayhem performing their Iconic first full release De Mysteriis dom Sathanas indoors was genuinely something else. This being their first Manchester show in 17 years, meant that this was only the second time I’ve seen them live. This first being a rather lacklustre set at Bloodstock, which had its atmosphere killed off by the big ball of fire in the sky. Black metal and sunshine don’t mix well. I’ll admit that initially I was more interested in seeing Dragged into Sunlight than Mayhem.
To see them performing in their element cemented why they’re as revered as they are. Starting their set in near total darkness and more smoke that your average SunnO)) gig. There were a few moments in the build-up where the atmosphere became so claustrophobic and oppressive that I thought to myself, I really hope I don’t die here.
The intense theatricality only escalated as they emerged from the freezing fog, garbed in reaper cloaks. Attila wearing a mask of what looked to be human skin, dancing around with skulls. Which given the reputation of the band were probably the genuine article.
Their approach to scaring the audience may have been a little more hammer house of Horror than DIS’s more abstract psychological assault but it was no less potent in its masterful application.
This was a commanding performance, another finely executed assault on the senses, the uncompromising combination of Black metal blast beats and the thunderous rumble of tremolo picked guitars made for yet another total assault on some already raw senses. The utterly rammed crowd generous with their applause this was an experience which was simply unforgettable.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RICH PRICE