Austrian post metal masters, Harakiri For The Sky, land in Manchester with fellow Austrians Ellende and the black metal veterans, Fen.
A refreshing thing about this touring bill is that each band gets plenty of time to showcase themselves. Fen are given 45 minutes and change and Ellende get a full hour. Harakiri For The Sky still have time for a solid 75 minute slot. All of the bands make their time count.
Fen are a very distinct band on the metal scene. They have been around close to two decades and have a plethora of records to their name.
An atmospheric introduction welcomes the band. As they fly into their set, The Watcher and stand in bassist, S Vrath, cut shapes with hair flailing and smash into a thunderous noise. Throughout, they use harmonics and blistering riffs that sweep through the venue. In 2023, Fen released their latest album, Monuments To Absence, and it is great to hear Scouring Ignorance delivered superbly. With horns raised, the crowd laps up it up.
Monuments To Absence is a brilliant album and one that shows just how good Fen are. From the back catalogue, Consequence is aired from 2013’s Dustwalker. As the band reach the closing strains of their lengthy opening set, they display the new album once more with Truth Is Futility to close out a brilliant set.
Ellende is a one man project that fist surfaced in 2011. L.G. is the solo member and leader of the band taking on all recording duties. In the live arena, the band is augmented with live musicians to bring their Austrian black metal to life. With more in line with traditional black metal, the band adopt the corpse paint look. L.G., as vocalist, has his torso adorned with a bone vest (of sorts). In support of their latest album, Ellenbogengesellschaft, the group get a warm reception from the Mancunian crowd.
Playing songs from across their rather large catalogue, Ellende plump for representation from most of their releases. Freier Fall and Hand aufs Herz make an appearance from the latest record and Atemzug and Der Blick wird leer are present from 2019’s Lebensnehmer. The band stalk the stage in grand fashion with their backs turned during darker, instrumental passages. It’s a simple aesthetic thing but makes things feel a little more sinister. At every turn when the band hit their groove, the crowd nod their heads in unison and throw up horns at the request of L.G.
Ellende’s greatest moment comes in the form of Der letzte Marsch. Taken from their Rückzug in die Innerlichkeit EP, the song has a pulsing piano piece throughout. It is a haunting track and the way the bass underpins the song is nothing short of phenomenal. With the announcement of the last song of the night, Ellende exit after the mandatory picture with the crowd.
HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY
A little like their countrymates in Ellende, Harakiri For The Sky are a two piece band with live musicians making their sound come alive on stage. Michael “JJ” V. Wahntraum is singer with the band and Matthias “MS” Sollak takes up lead guitar duties in the live arena.
JJ is passionate throughout the night with his vocal delivery. His harsh vocals hit the spot and give their post-black metal sound a great degree of emotion. Harakiri For The Sky are largely shrouded for their performance; the backlit stage helps cut silhouettes of the band. With this in mind, the band do not really speak to the crowd save for thank yous, however, there is a great connection in the room.
Fire, Walk With Me has the crowd pumping their fists along with the music and delivering ‘hey’ chants along with the band. JJ is on his knees singing – clearly living in the moment and delivering the kind of spiritual experience that music fans thrive on.
MS delivers lead guitar duties in clinical fashion. His playing his clear and precise. In-between pauses for songs song requests are shouted as the band ready themselves for the next piece. The piano and synth lines are played from tape, meaning Harakiri For The Sky clearly have to be tuned into their timings. As soon as the band hit their stride with each passing song, they move around the stage keeping the intimate crowd fully immersed in the show.
Two cuts from 2021’s Mære have the biggest impact with the crowd. I, Pallbearer is ethereal in its opening before giving way to a blistering black metal tempo. The drumming is frenetic and ferocious; many a head is being banged to this. On record, the song is incredibly powerful – played live, it is elevated much higher. Sing For The Damage We’ve Done is another favourite with the crowd. Originally featuring Neige from Alcest, the beauty that this song holds is huge. And whilst having that beauty, it loses none of its aggression. This is the definition of soaring in many senses of the word.
Overall, a great bill, great music and a great and always dedicated Mancunian crowd. A shout to Cult Of Parthenope for helping put together such a brilliant bill that showcased some of the finest bands around in this area of heavy metal.
Categories: Live Reviews