Ethereal – Retro Bar, Manchester 27/03/15

Ethereal Retro BarSomehow the basement venue of Retro Bar in Manchester felt apt for an evening of black and doom metal, and the room had already filled up nicely before the night got underway with the first band.

Openers Burial (7/10) got things off to an excellent start. It was a largely tight show from the three-piece, although their drummer did seem to be a little tense and rigid at times, which did mar the performance a little. However aside from that, it was a great set. and their frontman was quite the character, joking with the crowd throughout! Additionally, a vast quantity in the crowd were banging their heads and pumping their fists in the air – not bad for the opening act!

Up next was Sathamel (6/10) and whilst their imagery was absolutely fantastic, it wasn’t the most engaging of performances because although their songs were good, there wasn’t much variation between them. It ultimately meant that the set dragged a little, as the songs tended to blend together, which was a little disappointing after hearing so many good things about this band.

The penultimate band of the night was Mael Mordha (9/10), who arguably could be described as the ‘odd band out’ of the evening due to playing a rather magnificent blend of doom and pagan metal, rather than the more standard style of black metal played by the other three bands on the bill, but this didn’t make a difference to the talented four-piece’s performance. With the stage being bathed in blue light to match the paint on the band member’s faces, it made everything just that little bit more atmospheric and it added a lot to an already strong performance. In particular, frontman/whistle player Stíofán was a powerful and commanding frontman who worked the crowd well from start to finish. Make sure you see this band if you haven’t already.

Ethereal (8/10) is a band I’ve seen a fair few times now in various support slots, but this event marked the first headline show I’d seen them play and it felt very rewarding to finally witness them in such a slot. It was another great show from the outfit – have they ever put on a bad show?! – and when a band is so well-oiled and together as this one, it really makes all the difference. However, it was a bit of a shame that this headline performance didn’t really differ too much from lower-billed performances – it would have been good if they’d stepped it up a little.

All in all, a fantastic night – and you can bet there was a few sore necks the morning after!

About Natalie Humphries 1842 Articles

Soundscape’s editor, who is particularly fond of doom, black metal and folk (but will give anything a chance). Likes to travel to see bands abroad when she can. Contact: or @acidnat on twitter.

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