Motocultor Festival has been slowly gaining notoriety among the European festival circuit these past few years and this latest tour, headlined by Fleshgod Apocalypse, has proven itself to be one of the more notable black metal dominated lineups to venture across the UK, ultimately coming to Manchester at the very last minute.
The black metal dominated show began with Ethereal Sin from Japan, who were one of the less serious bands to play in that they seemed to have a sense of humour about the type of music they produce. Black metal itself is quite a ridiculous genre when you break it down. Ethereal Sin seemed to blend black metal with visual kei (Japan’s version of glam rock) in a really interesting way and even have a lot of catchy melodies which may have leaned a little bit into power metal territory. Ethereal Sin’s vocalist, Yama Darkblaze, quickly established himself as a very charming frontman who was at one point so invested in the music, he began singing a song without a microphone in his hand which was hilarious.
Next up was Dark Mirror ov Tragedy, a much more serious band that made every effort to seem dark and mysterious, to the point where it almost alienated the audience at first but most came around in the end. Dark Mirror ov Tragedy isn’t a band that will recruit new black metal fans but they still manage to exemplify the most interesting traits of the genre, mystique and drama accompanied by oppressive and extreme metal.
Next up was Nest of Plagues, the only band to not wear corpse paint which was also noted by vocalist, Daniel Ivanics, who stormed the stage with his snazzy leopard print shirt. Nest of Plagues were a very welcome change of pace as their music is more focused on aggression rather than atmosphere and they even managed to inspire the first mosh pits of the night. Nest of Plagues were arguably the best of the night because they seemed the most authentic, there wasn’t a gimmick and they were there to engage with the crowd instead of trying to seem dark and mysterious. The entire set was made up of songs from their latest album To Kill a God which is also a fantastic deathcore release from 2022.
W.E.B took to the stage next and the wave of black metal continued as yet another band that featured the standard uniform of corpse paint, black leather, studs and spikes. W.E.B had the black metal aesthetic but their music sounded like an extreme metal attempt at imitating dark wave acts like The Cure in a similar vein to Paradise Lost. Tracks like ‘Murder of Crows’ utilised their skills at melody and featured grand harmonised guitar work that was accented by sweeping orchestral sampling behind them. W.E.B were an incredibly strong act and their ability to stand out amongst all the other black metal acts was notable and even impressive.
Introduced by Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Fleshgod Apocalypse took to the stage and given that they were the most notorious band on the lineup, they also had the best production value as their set featured a grand piano as well as the entire band coming on stage with elaborate costumes. A band with such a prominent gimmick is at risk of being overshadowed by that gimmick and just becoming known for that but luckily Fleshgod Apocalypse have immense talent to back it up as well as having their aesthetic be incredibly engaging and unique.
Fleshgod Apocalypse’s set contained all the classics you’d find on their usual set including ‘No’, ‘The Egoism’ and perhaps the best introduction to any extreme metal song ever created. Fleshgod Apocalypse prominently feature classical music in their songs and that adds a really menacing quality at times and really helps to amplify that sense of impending dread that some of these songs harbour and showcase a phenomenal juxtaposition between that and some of the most technically proficient drumming around.
It’s a shame that this show had such a small turnout owing to the last minute cancellation of the second London date and replacing it with a Manchester date but the small crowd made it feel intimate and gave the crowd more of an opportunity to connect with each band, for some even personally as many people would flock to the merch stand to meet these talented musicians. The majority of bands on the bill may not be for everyone but Motocultor Fest Across Europe at least acted as a way to introduce smaller bands to a wider audience.
Overall, every band on this set has something unique to offer and their inclusion in Motocultor Fest is fantastic but the over representation of black metal may have put some people off. Motocultor Fest will be taking place August 17th-20th in Carhaix, France with the likes of Deicide, Watain, Carcass, Dying Fetus and Insomnium.