Anaal Nathrakh @ The Cavern, Exeter

2nd December 2012
Review by Andy May

It was a cold, wet evening which brought great expectation and promise from one of the best extreme metal bands in Europe; Anaal Nathrakh, as they prepared for their Exeter leg of their small UK tour headlining Nazgul Fest at the Cavern.

The tasty line-up was completed by main support dark metallers Saturnian, rising thrashers Cryostorm, the boyfriend/girlfriend due of Monolithian, and opening the show was local black metallers Morgawr in what was a truly great atmosphere and a great gig.

The venue itself was quite intimate, underground but in a prime location. The stage and floor covered one half of the venue whilst the bar area covered the other half, both of which were ample locations for viewing the gig. Opening the show to an already semi-packed venue was Morgawr. Having spoken to the guys before their set, I was looking forward to seeing a nice bunch of lads lay out some melodic black metal, and they didn’t disappoint.
Some crushing riffs and some killer vocals made it a great performance which the crowd seem to grab hold of almost immediately.

By the time Monolithian hit the stage the crowd was in full force, wherever one looked there were people moshing to the DJ’s fill between bands or people drinking or buying merchandise. Monolithian immediately stood out for several reasons, the main reason being a 2-piece couple with a female drummer, however this in no way detracted from their ability to deliver some high quality Doom/Black metal, along with tonnes of sweat to go with it.

That performance from Monolithian led into one of my favourite bands at local level. Having spoken with a couple of them outside of the music industry, I’ve grown to love Cryostorm in more ways than one. Bringing you one of the tightest performances you could ask for from a melodic metal band, Cryostorm really made the stage their own and pulled out all the stops to the crowd’s delight, not only was their set next to flawless but they also engaged with the crowd perfectly, as front man James stole the show.

Taking the stage and turning into a Norwegian shrine next were Saturnian; the UK’s best answer to Dimmu Borgir in many years. With their vast array of symphonic elements, high pitched screams, complex lyrics and the face paint to go with it, Saturnian were one of the bands that I had to see again.

At this point merch is selling, beer is flying and well over 100 people are filling the floor awaiting for the arrival of Anaal Nathrakh. And when they came, they came in force. Right from the off the band, who rarely tour these days, were explosive.

Flaunting some of their new material, the band engaged a roaring crowd, some of which were all too familiar with the new material already. Several non-severe injuries, beer everywhere and a lot of hair and sweat filling the venue, this was definitely one of the heaviest sets I’ve seen in a long time.

All in all a great gig, each band really pulled out the stops. It was nice to see each band play to a crowd and it was pleasing to see so many people stay from start to finish.