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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: High On Fire & Enslaved (Live Review By Rich)

High On Fire, Enslaved and Krakow at SWX, Bristol

The draw of a co-headlining show from both High On Fire and Enslaved brought a respectably sized crowd to SWX in Bristol on a Sunday night. Kicking things off were Norwegian post-metal act Krakow (7). It took a few songs for the audience to warm to them but there were several nods of approval and cheers by the time Krakow concluded their set of vast, atmospheric and crushing post-metal.

The two headliners have been alternating the order in which they play and tonight it was the turn of Enslaved (9) to take the middle slot. Enslaved have always been a band pushing black metal to its boundaries and are now known for their progressive metal leanings equally as well as their black metal origins. The set tonight was a celebration of their career with a nice mix of new, old and ancient material. Enslaved wasted no time in dropping jaws opening with a flawless rendition of the mesmerizingly epic Roots Of The Mountain off the RIITIIR album. From there on we got treated to the title track off Ruun, Storm Son and Sacred Horse off latest album E and a rousing Havenless

What was a special treat for the old school fans in attendance was the inclusion of Isöders Dronning and Jotunblod off the classic Frost album. To finish things off the band went even further back in their discography closing with the ferocious Allfǫðr Oðinn off the Hordanes Land EP. The band put in a fantastically performance with the wonderful counterbalance between the harsh vocals of frontman Grutle Kjellson and the luscious clean vocals of keyboardist Håkon Vinje. The band were in a jovial mood clearly enjoying themselves on stage with some entertaining interaction with the audience. I was attending the show with some friends who are unfamiliar with Enslaved and it was a joy to see their captivated response to their music. My only disappointment is that there were several albums overlooked in the set but Enslaved have such a long and rich back catalogue that they could have played for several hours and we still had another headlining set to go.

Closing off the evening was the crushing might of High On Fire (8). Despite touring the UK previously on several occasions this was my first time watching High On Fire and as I was expecting it was the musical equivalent of being bludgeoned to death by an anvil. Matt Pike and company wasted no time in unleashing sonic devastation on SWX opening with the instrumental Sons Of Thunder from Blessed Black Wings before diving into the relentless fury of The Black Plot with added animation on the big screen behind the stage. The rest of the set was comprised of material off new album Electric Messiah mixed in with some older material such as Fertile Green, Rumors Of War, Fury Whip and Snakes For The Divine before bringing the set to an absolutely crushing end with the absolutely savage Electric Messiah

 A brave move ending the set with a new song but it’s one which High On Fire fans have already embraced and is an instant classic. Unfortunately nothing was played from the first two albums. The performances were a little bit sloppy in places and the sound was incredibly dense and muddy for High On Fire but this is filthy music and so didn’t affect my enjoyment of the set in fact it strangely complimented it. High On Fire are a band that scream heavy metal and I thoroughly enjoyed my first live experience. All in all a fantastic show which left people with ears ringing and big satisfied grins on their faces. A perfect way to spend a Sunday evening.

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