Live Reviews

Stormkeep w/Winterfylleth , Saor & more – Manchester Rebellion: Live Review

Stormkeep make their UK live debut with a slew of the finest in extreme metal to boot including Winterfylleth, Saor, Ninkharsag, Arð, Nemorous & Cairns.


Cairns opened up proceedings showcasing their Keening EP. It’s a short EP of 4 songs but the band clearly have a vision with how they want to present it. In the venue, the sound through the PA is dodgy at best’. ‘Manchester how we doing?’ asks singer Chris during the opening. The band have to stop entirely after the first track to sort out the aforementioned sound, but this doesn’t dampen the thirst of the crowd.

Gremlins aside, Cairns sound offers variations in singing style. The snarls and growls sound great with the music and some clean vocals feel a little rough but the songs are well structured with tempo changes that come from nowhere. There is an ambition in the music that swerves between black metal and post rock. ‘Thank you so much…it’s been a bit of a challenge,’ says Chris as the band finish up their slot. The crowd really pulled the band along and the thanks is genuinely heartfelt with clearly overwhelmed looks from the band as they depart.


Nemorous are a different beast. Double the band members and double the sound. Wherever the problems came from they seemed ironed out as the northern sextet aired their EP.

Nick Craggs hangs off his microphone in quite intimidating manner as he delivers a brilliant mix of black/death vocals. It is hard not to go to words like atmospheric and emotional as they truly sum things up very well.

Nemorous are comprised of a few band members that were previously in Wodensthrone. Their metal chops are big enough and bold enough to show their distinctive quality. Phil Heckles shines as the driving force on bass. Michael Blenkharn and Rob Hindmarsh provide a dense mix of guitars that, at points, burst out into twin guitar melodies evoking Di’Anno era Maiden.

Nemorous, like Cairns, and plenty of others, use tempo changes to great effect. The slower tempos offer a doom like quality and the crowd obliges with slow head-bangs. This range in tempos throughout makes for an exciting mix, and the drops into blast beats feel absolutely deadly when they arrive. A simple thank you is uttered at the end of the white hot set.


For a band that never set out to be a live entity, Arð are surely racking up the shows. Most recently, they played a unique gig in Huddersfield that was covered by The Observer (read here). Here, they’re back to more humble surroundings with a line-up made up of friends in Winterfylleth, Atavist and Pantheist. Mark Deeks is the mastermind behind the project and the six piece band deliver their debut album, Take Up My Bones, with glorious aplomb.

With three guitarists providing a genuine wall of sound, the bass and drums help move the doom sound along. Pantheist man, Kostas Panagiotou, provides keys and synth to make the group complete. In the short life of the Arð project in the live arena, the album has been performed in its entirety each time. Once again, the album sounds majestic. Members of the crowd assist in choral duties as Mark Deeks delivers the story of St. Cuthbert in a sombre and soulful way.

From the stage, Deeks offers thanks and clears up a couple of points. ‘1. We’re Arð…not A-R-D. 2. We don’t have any blast beats.’ The latter is pertinent as Arð  are the one band that really go against the grain on this bill. It matters not though, the music is lapped up in blessed fashion. Fitting for such a historical and regal performance.


With animal skulls now adorning the front and centre mic stand, Ninkharsag bring a more traditional BM sound. Gregorian style chants on tape welcome the band, who really look the part. ‘Manchester lets go,’ shrieks Paul Armitstad as the fierce and fast set explodes.

With time moving on, it’s clear that the Mancunian crowd is a little more ‘oiled’ and the end of the band’s first track is greeted with a sea of horns held aloft.

The lions share of the bands set is taken from 2021’s The Dreadmarch Of Solemn Gods. Lunar Hex: The Art Of Mighty Lycanthropy is an early highlight in the set. Similarly, Discipline Through Black Sorcery is fast and furious and allows the crowd to get a little more lively in small area at the front of the stage.


Like Arð, Saor offer a little of something different from the more black metal stylings of the day. There are the usual black metal motifs however Saor offer a different take. The incorporation of flute instruments into the sound helps bring the bands’ proud Caledonian themed metal sound to life.

Saor’s set is one of special gravitas as they celebrate their tenth anniversary. Andy Marshall is the mastermind behind Saor and with five albums in ten years, the group are here to celebrate. Culling a set from across the five albums, Saor build their set masterfully. Fittingly, Origins opens the set and Carved In Stone from Roots follows. It feels as if it is a natural couple of thematic picks to open.

Ella Zlotos is masterful in her musical input on tin whistle and low whistle. She also delivers great vocals to augment Saor’s sound. Such is the complexity and mix within the music, it sometimes get lost in the sound over the PA. That being said, it is a minor thing amongst a real celebration of a set.

Bròn is delivered in grand and haunting style with Zlotos being the star of the show. Aura closes out the bands set in resplendent fashion, and as the set ends to rapturous applause, there is another scramble for wares at the merch desk.


Another band in celebratory mood are Winterfylleth. Like the members of Nemorous, the band have been around a while. This is a one off show whilst writing their forthcoming album.

With cans raised, the band walk onstage to a true home town ovation. The lengthy instrumental intro to Absolved In Fire soon gives way to the blistering sound of a band clearly on top form. When the chugging guitar part of the song hits, it is absolutely emphatic. The whole band have their heads down in unison as they head bang along.

A Valley Think With Oaks and The Reckoning Dawn follow in grand fashion before the band take a left turn with A Soul Unbound. A deep cut from 2012’s The Threnody Of Triumph, the song is a real highlight and a real surprise to hear. As mentioned, this is a celebratory hometown show, and Winterfylleth truly deliver. Naughton sounds evil on vocals and the dense towering music that sits beneath is epic.

More familiar cuts like Whisper Of The Elements cascade around the venue before a triumphant version of Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain) closes the set with the crowd in full mosh mode. Winterfylleth are clearly a band who love playing live and you can see it from the smiles on their faces on stage as the crowd lap up every minute. We await album number eight with anticipation.


There is an anticipation amongst the crowd before Stormkeep take the stage. The changeover sees the band setting up their stage whilst everyone else gets their cups filled, merch bought, or nicotine taken in.

For a relatively obscure band to be headlining a show like this where Winterfylleth and Saor have already played is quite something and speaks to the power that Stormkeep have. Their releases have been well received and this is their UK debut. It is a privilege to have witnessed this.

With the drawbridge raising over the PA (taken from The Citadel on Tales Of Othertime), Stormkeep amble onstage to great applause awash in red light. Lord Dahthar cuts a unique figure in a wizards costume and Otheyn Vermithrax brandishes crossed swords as he steps up to the microphone. In a nutshell, Stormkeep are clad in all the metal clothing that is commonplace.

Stormkeep display just how great they are as they power through cuts from Tales Of Othertime. A Journey Through Storms is truly epic. Clocking in over the eleven minute mark, it is genuinely a storied musical journey. Their black metal guitars slice through the air as you would expect, and slower interludes are filled with mystery and intrigue.

The meshing of black metal with a heavy dose of dungeon synth makes for an incredibly dramatic mix from Stormkeep. This is clearest on the opening of The Seer. Chiming keys and the guitar melodies lead towards a gushing blast of black metal. Another cut from Tales Of Othertime is Eternal Majesty Manifest. Swords clank together as the song starts and the band take us on another epic journey through the wilds. Again, the synth lines augment the music superbly. Stormkeep’s guitarists bang their heads along in unison with the music and the sold out crowd, at the end of an incredibly captivating day of music.

A huge thanks goes to Reaper Agency UK for putting together such an impressive line-up. The atmosphere in the venue throughout the day was nothing short of buzzing, and the kinship within the metal community is one to be lauded. Long may it continue.

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