Manchester 02 Academy
13th November 2013
Metal Hammer’s 2013 Defenders Of The Faith tour – featuring Amon Amarth, Carcass, Bleed From Within and Hell – was a typically diverse and excellent affair. Dom Walsh was there.
Viking monsters Amon Amarth, death metal pioneers Carcass, Scottish giants Bleed From Within and the classic metal-tinged Hell made up this year’s Defenders Of The Faith tour put together, as it has been for several years, by Metal Hammer magazine.
Hell opened proceedings with a criminally short set. The band have been in existence for almost 30 years but only released their stunning debut album – Human Remains – in 2011 and it’s the songs from this release that get the best response. On Earth As It Is In Hell is magnificent, especially as it’s twinned with Blasphemy And The Master. Show closer The Quest is a fine slice of heavy metal with a great chorus. Couple these excellent, riff-laden songs with tongue in cheek theatrics (such as mock flagellation) and you have the recipe for a perfect, but all too brief set. The new material only whetted the appetite for their second album which is available at the end of November.
Showing the diversity of the bill and the metal world in general, Scotland’s Bleed From Within had the unenviable task of following Hell. Soon into the set they acknowledge they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but do a good job of winning over large portions of the crowd.
The opening duo were warmly received, but the atmosphere is seriously ramped up by the entrance of the legendary Carcass. The roar of approval from the Manchester crowd is monstrous. They could easily have headlined the whole event but have to settle for a short 40 minutes of gore-obsessed magnificence. Surgical Steel is without doubt one of the greatest albums of the year. The crowd were treated to several choice cuts from this as well as some superb savagery from their stunning back catalogue. They were flanked by two screens showing the grim side of surgery; including infected phalluses and graphic pictures of hanging bodies – all par for the course at a Carcass gig. This Mortal Coil, Genital Grinder and Corporal Jigsore Quandry all get an airing and they close with a gloriously punishing version of 1994’s Heartwork. One word; triumphant and it’s great to see Carcass back in fold.
One band that has never gone away is Amon Amarth. Sweden’s premier Viking-themed metal outfit had some act to follow. Despite being an entirely different proposition to Carcass, they were nevertheless in fine form. Playing essentially a greatest hits set, smattered with selections from this year’s excellent Deceiver Of The Gods album, the band tore through 75 minutes of pure and glorious metal.
Opening with Father Of The Wolf and Deceiver Of The Gods, there were plenty of chances for the crowd to be involved chorally as well as losing their minds in a hefty mosh pit. The new material was very well received due to Amon Amarth’s massive and devoted following being already completely au fait with the songs. When they unleashed a brace of classics – Runes To My Memory and Guardians Of Asgaard – the crowd was firmly in the hands of monstrous singer Johan Hegg. War Of The Gods from Surtur Rising closed the main set before the band returned for a two song encore consisting of the emphatic Twilight Of The Thunder God and The Pursuit Of Vikings.
A Manchester ticket would have set you back around £20. To see four bands of this ilk that is not to be sniffed at when there are far less desirable acts charging through the nose for a more sub standard experience. These kinds of multi-band tours are to be embraced and savoured. The Manchester crowd did just that, and I imagine not one person left feeling short changed.