Enslaved & Grand Magus
@ O2 Islington, London
24th August, 2015
Review by Caitlin Smith
Photos by Graham Hilling
On the tin it seems like an odd mix. Enslaved and Grand Magus hitting the road together for a co-headline tour may not have made the most obvious pairing, but while the two may differ in genre, they’re more than a match for each other when it comes to energy. Taking to the O2 Islington academy in London for the night its sure to be a killer performance.
The early doors meant that I started this gig meant it was a short but sweet set for De Profundis [2.5/5]. With the two headline bands both taking mammoth set times, the London based black metal band had a painfully short time to make their impression.
The guys were more than up for the challenge as they pummel the audience with bellowed vocals and guitar flurries.
With the gig falling just days before the release of their latest album Kingdom of the Blind it was the perfect chance for the band to show off their new material with ‘Kult of the Orthadox,’ ‘A Strange Awakening,’ ‘Beyond the Threshold’ and ‘Illumination’ all making appearances in the set that night.
Grand Magus [4/5] are a band that really know how to take a stage. Even before a single note has been played there’s a sense of presence about them that makes them feel at home on stage.
Despite not being a fan of the Viking heavy metal trio, its difficult not to get swept up in the performance as and they take to the stage for their opening track ‘I, the Jury.’
The crowd seems to agree as a roar of appreciation can be heard as people start ramming their way into an already packed venue.
Riffs gallop and vocals soar as they follow with ‘Sword of the Ocean.’ True to their reputation, the band are on top form that night with every note falling in place with razor precision.
It’s never a true heavy metal performance without gratuitous references to heavy metals, and as ‘steel vs steel’ gives way to ‘Iron Will’ the buzz through the crowd is positively electric with the energy in the music is matched by the bands energy onstage.
A seemingly triumphant end of ‘Valhalla Rising’ had even the most hardened of gig addicts clenching fists and singing along. Not to be disappointed for too long, it’s only a short wait for them to return to the stage as the band bounce back on stage and launch into ‘Triumph and Power.’
Hurtling into the final song ‘Hammer of the North,’ the 80-minute set draws to a close and for many, it’s bittersweet shuffle towards the bar.
There are few bands that can command the same respect as Enslaved [3/5], and that can be seen on display tonight as the bands remaining older members don’t seem to have aged, but simply look like they might be more at home on a longboat.
With such a long career behind them the band have consistently churned out quality records time and time again. While their recorded sound might still be on point, the same cannot be said for the bands live chops.
With consistent line up changes, the band themselves freely admitted the limited repertoire.
The changing line up had obviously also taken a toll on the bands performance as while the riffs held together, the vocal harmonies often fell apart.
What they may have lacked in accuracy, they made up in energy and nostalgia. Even the newer enslaved numbers still seem to ring with echoes from the past.
‘Thurisaz Dreaming,’ proved to be a devastating opener, setting the tone with some furious black metal before falling back into their more Viking vocal leanings.
Moving through the set, RITIIR’s ‘Death in the Eyes of Dawn’ whipped up the crowd into a frenzy, although the classics also go down well with Frost’s ‘Fenris’ and Hordanes Land’s ‘Allfadr odinn’ packing some serious power.
Closing on ‘ISA,’ the joy on both the bands and the fans faces is evident knowing they have both been part of a spectacular performance.