Lauren McGowan was down at Voodoo last Friday to check out renowned metallers and tweed suit enthusiasts Akercocke with support from Hecate Enthroned and Drakonis. With a sharp tongue, let’s see what she had to say about them!

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It’s tricky to write a fair review when you are slightly underwhelmed by a gig. I had hyped myself up for a night of epic proportions filled with ripping black and progressive death metal, blaring lights, blinding performances and killer riffs. I have to admit, however, that while the performances were by no means poor, the gig as a whole wasn’t quite as impressive and awe-inspiring as I had hoped. This is probably down the venue – if I had any say in the matter, I’d have said Limelight would have been much more suitable, but you have to play the cards you’re dealt.

Kicking the night into gear, Drakonis took to the stage of Voodoo with a diverse set list of fan favourites and new material. As always, they played with precision, power and were both musically and visually impressive to watch. Having a very limited space to play in with two drum kits squeezed on stage, forcing drummer (Lee McCartney) into the infamous corner set up, there wasn’t much room for moving around. I find this can hinder a band’s potential to deliver an impressive performance as a good stage presence is crucial, but the band managed to deliver regardless. One of the things I found most visually striking about Drakonis’ performances in the past was the borderline intimidating stage presence of former vocalist Cass Cassidy. In my personal opinion, these are pretty tough boots to fill, however, Steve Reynolds has performed remarkably in the few times I have seen him so far. His ability to seamlessly introduce keyboard this time around along with singing imposing vocal parts at the same time was unexpected and thrilling. I look forward to seeing Drakonis perform more new material and develop even further – just give them a bit more space on stage, dim the lights a bit more and they’re guaranteed to scare the shit out of everyone (in a good way).

Read about Drakonis in this month’s Treason Magazine!

When I first heard Hecate Enthroned play, my first thought was they were, for lack of a better term, a budget Emperor. They are a band I have not paid nearly enough attention to as I should have, but I’d heard good things about them coming up to the gig. I have to say they weren’t bad at all once I got into it, and if there’s a keyboard involved, the inner Emperor fan girl in me is going to give it a thumbs up straight away. The style of black metal they played was right up my street, with elements of melodic death metal incorporated. The talent and skill displayed left me wide-eyed as the vocalist, Joe Stamps, delivered a perfect blend of high and low registered shrieks and growls. The keys complimented the guitars perfectly and the drums ripped through with intensity and precision. Their set has definitely made me a fan; I’ll be listening to their albums and keeping my fingers crossed for more shows in the hopefully not-so-distant future.

As far as Akercocke is concerned, I was not that impressed. I did not find their reputation preceded them – ‘is Northern Ireland ready for this?’ is a phrase that was joked about from their infamous interview on The Nolan Show in 2007; I had an image in my head of men in suits taking themselves a bit too seriously and preaching the word of Satan. The lack of suits was a disappointment and I did not find myself intimidated or swayed to the side of the Antichrist. While they are evidently more progressive death metal than they are black metal, I was disappointed with how little black metal I was presented with given what material I had listened to prior to seeing them. Looking at them as musicians with unbiased genre preferences, however, they are undoubtedly incredibly talented and skilled at what they do. The vocal performance was varied with guttural death metal registers contrasted with clean vocal parts, the guitars were impressive, and at one point, a trumpet appeared. I am not a fan of proggy interludes – personally, I think this should be used sparingly and was overdone slightly. That said, the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it. Was ‘Northern Ireland ready for this’? I can’t say I’m sure, but I wasn’t all that fussed.

Words: Lauren McGowan
Photo by Tina Korhonen © 2017, all rights reserved.

Big thanks as always to James Loveday

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