GIG REVIEW: Marduk, Ragnarok, Unlight & Azziard Live at Audio, Glasgow
Accusations of Nazism has followed metal in general, but specifically black metal, since the dawn of the blast beat. Despite a lack of concrete proof, accusations have been flung at Marduk across the metal media and Antifa groups over the last couple of years, and Marduk’s headline European tour to promote their upcoming record “Viktoria” has had an air of controversy since it started at the beginning of May – culminating in Infernal War rightfully being dropped from the UK dates due to their association with the NSBM scene. However, the Glasgow crowd was not deterred by the controversy, nor the presence of Antifa, or a similar group, harassing punters outside the venue, with the show coming close to selling out.
Azziard opened the night sharp. Adorned with hooded, black robes, the French occult masters blasted their way through a short but punishing set, showcasing material from their 2017 opus “Metempsychose”. Unfortunately due to transport issues, I missed the majority of their set, however there was plenty of praise from the crowd when they left the stage. What I did manage to catch of their set was exceptionally impressive, and Azziard are a black metal band that should be on everyone’s watch-lists for the coming years.
After a short break, Germany’s Unlight [8/10] took the stage for a short but blistering set. The quartet were exceptionally tight, delivering a well-honed and vicious performance of excellent black metal. In spite of the small venue, Unlight managed to create an almost ethereal atmosphere with their brand of modern black metal, absolutely levelling the stage and leaving the following bands with a tough act to follow. It’s been two years since Unlight released their last full-length, “Antihelion” – a follow-up is definitely due soon, with, hopefully, more live shows on Scottish soil.
Norway’s Ragnarok [7/10] were billed as the main support for the tour, though their setlist seemed a tad short for main support. Their brand of classic, Norwegian black metal with a hooky twist seemed to go down well with the crowd as the quartet thundered through their set, with “Infernal Majesty” from their most recent offering, 2016’s “Psycophathology” and “Pagan Land” from their 1995 debut “Nattferd” standing as highlights. Unfortunately, the lack of a second guitarist left their sound lacking a bit of a punch, and several of the tracks followed an almost identical formula. Following the excellence of Unlight’s previous set, Ragnarok were a bit lacking in that special something.
The band everyone was there for that night took a considerably longer time to set up, but Marduk [9/10] were definitely worth the wait. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Marduk’s show saw no Sieg Heils, no hate speech, and no violence out of the pit. It was easy to forget all the controversy surrounding Marduk and this tour during their sublime set – this was a metal show in its purest form, with plenty of beer, plenty of headbanging and a generally fun atmosphere.
Blistering through a tight and utterly savage performance, Marduk delivered a selection of old-favourites and modern highlights from their career. Particular highlights included the title track and “Baptism By Fire” from “Panzer Division Marduk”, “Wolves” and “Burn My Coffin” from “Those of the Unlight”, and “Between the Wolf-Packs” and “The Blond Beast” from 2015’s “Frontschwein”. Marduk also performed the two singles from their upcoming opus “Viktoria”, “Werwulf” and “Equestrian Bloodlust”, which sounded utterly devastating live. Their utterly excellent set seemed to come to a close all too soon, but it the Swedes made one thing clear – Marduk is still a force to be reckoned with in modern black metal.