Enslaved + Winterfylleth + Ancient Ascendant – Limelight 2, Belfast – Sunday March 17th 2013

Enslaved Belfast posterWhile those with a lot less sense were out ‘drowning the shamrock’ and “celebrating” what laughingly passes for the ‘national saint’s day’ in this corner of the world, by getting as hammered as possible as quickly possible and then hammering the living daylights out of each other in an unprecedented annual demonstration of their affection for each other, the metal hordes descended on the historic Limelight complex for a ‘hammering’ of different kind – one delivered by this pagan metal triple bill as it rolled into town for the latest stop off on Enslaved’s epic ‘Rittiir’ world tour.

Openers Ancient Ascendant’s modern, grinding death metal groove slowly draws the crowd in and toward the stage as they deliver a compelling and confident set.  With a sound drawing comparisons with old school UK masters such as Bolt Thrower, mixing massive melodies with grindcore extremity, frontman Alex Butler is commanding, while the rest of the band are tight and devastatingly effective in their deliver, with the towering closer ‘The Path To Heaven’ leaving the room baying for more.


By contrast, Winterfylleth almost shamble on stage, and their set can be summed up as ‘arrogant’.  Lacking any stage presence or a logical focal point – not helped by vocalist Chris Naughton standing off to the side of the stage – their demeanour resembles that of the superior English invaders looking presumptuously and haughtily down on their lesser Irish conquests.   Nevertheless, their style of pagan metal is impressive, built on walls of pummelling blastbeats and the excellent sound mix brings out the subtlety of some of the finer moments of the guitar interplay while accentuating their powerful bass sound.


EnslavedOn record, Enslaved are an intriguing and imaginative proposition, standing just outside the normal black metal parameters and bringing a refreshing breath of fresh air to the genre:  live, they combine all of these elements with a show that veers from elegance to brutality with fluidity.

The title track of their current album, ‘Riitiir’, is an immediate call to arms, and it is answered with almost blood-thirsty enthusiasm by the now rabid mob gathered in front of the stage:  the band enter into the spirit of the occasion by toasting the fans with a celebratory clash of lager cans at the start of ‘The Watcher’.

Enslaved’s multi-layered, contrasting vocals work extremely well against their backdrop of classic-infused death metal, punishing bass lines and mesmerising, melodic leads, with the guitars of Ivar Bjørnson and Ice Dale working in stunningly well-delivered combinations with Grutle Kjellson‘s bass work.  Despite some problems with the guitar sound in the latter half, the main set is brought to a close with a titanic version of Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ (although we could have done without the anti-climatic addendum of ‘Comfortably Numb’) before – and despite a brief raising of the house lights in misplaced anticipation – Cato Bekkevold’s impressive drum solo leads into the towering closer of the classic ‘Isa’.

Set list:

The Sleeping Gods (intro) – Riitiir – Ruun – The Watcher – Thoughts Like Hammers – Ethica Odini – Roots Of The Mountain – Materal – Convoys To Nothingness – Allfadr Odinn – Immigrant Song / Comfortably Numb


Drum Solo – Isa


About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff
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