There is a very big sold-out sign on the door at the O2 Ritz in Manchester as the Polish blackened death metal juggernaut known as Behemoth steamrolls into town.
Washington black metallers Wolves In The Throne Room are well into their set by the time we enter the arena. The first thing you notice, once your ears have become accustomed to the wall of noise that hits you, is that the venue is packed out even this early on a Saturday evening and, although there is very little in the way of crowd interaction, the US extreme metal band make sure their presence is felt.
Raise your beer "To Drink From The Night Itself" with Swedish titans At The Gates:
One band that need no introduction to this crowd are Swedish legends At The Gates who stride out to a heroes welcome from the black t-shirt clad masses. Thundering straight into their set with an opening salvo of “To Drink From The Night Itself” and “Slaughter Of The Soul”, it’s clear that the band are on fire tonight. Frontman Tomas stalks the stage pumping his fist whipping up the crowd again and again while his bandmates take more of a backseat for the best part content to churn out the kind of Swedish melodi-metal that made them one of the most influential bands of the genre.
As we make our way out of the Ritz tonight, one passer-by comments “Is it Behemoth tonight? No big deal, I’ll just catch them at Download”. Well, that’s a pity because, quite frankly, you missed out on one of the most perfect displays of extreme metal you’re ever likely to see. Not putting a foot wrong from the moment Nergal and his henchmen took to the stage, the Polish heavyweights were simply terrifying.
Opening with “Wolves Ov Siberia” followed by a crushing “Diamonos”, Behemoth were clearly in no mood for pleasantries tonight. Blasts of CO2 and pyrotechnics lit up the stage as the set continues through the likes of “Ora Pro Nobis” and “God=Dog” with frontman Nergal commanding the attention of the masses gathered here to worship at his altar. The night continues with the colossal “Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel” a track which epitomises everything great about this band. Crushingly heavy, yet almost hymn-like in its delivery, the neck-snapping grind is hypnotic in its delivery and has the sold-out crowd banging their heads in unison to another of Behemoth’s beautifully dark sermons.
Whether the band can replicate this kind of perfect display during their mid-afternoon slot at Download Festival later this Summer remains to be seen. However, tonight, in the dark, dank depths of the Ritz, the satanic masters of blackened death metal were simple unstoppable.
Check out Behemoth at their satanic best in the video for "Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica":