The Ugly World Tour was a night for all ages, fans old and new, anxiously waiting for the onslaught of battle metal and straight in-your-face metal that was on the cards and we wanted to witness how ugly it can get to a packed-out Manchester crowd.

This was the first time we came across the support band of the night, namely Machinae Supremacy, hailing from Luleå, Sweden. Their sound combines a blend of modern heavy metal, alternative rock and industrial metal. Stood before us were Robert “Gaz” Stjärnström (vocals), Jonas “Gibli” Rörling (lead guitar), Andreas “Gordon” Gerdin (rhythm guitar), Johan “Dezo” Hedlund (bass) and Niklas “Nicky” Karvonen (drums) to embrace Manchester with their UK debut show. With tracks that included ‘Truth of Tomorrow’, recent single ‘Force Feedback’ and ‘Through The Looking Glass’, Machinae Supremacy intimidated Manchester with a new kind of energy.

The second band to entertain the crowds of Manchester were Finnish folk metallers Ensiferum. As the intro blasted from the PA and each member took their positions wearing streaks of paints and kilts (except for keyboardist Emmi Silvennoinen of course), they took Manchster away to the faraway place with the massive ‘From Afar’. With a dichotomy that has the slight  resemblence of Legolas (the Elf from Lord Of The Rings) and a voice of gutterall force, Petri Lindroos belted out words of such threat, yet has the face of an angel.

Alongside Markus Toivonen (guitars), they made such a powerful team with their guitars. With blast-beater Janne Parviainen pelting out such thunder through his kit that it felt as thought it came from another dimension. One thing that we noticed was how insane Sami Hinkka was with his bass. He was a string puppet trying to escape from its reigns! The set also included ‘Token Of Time’, ‘Into Battle’ and ‘Twilight Tavern’, many journeys were taken with their elegant and heavy sounds. To close their luscious set were the charming ‘Lai Lai Hei’ and optimistic ‘Iron’ that gave the crowd the chance to give Petri “some help” that was almost louder than he actually anticipated!

That certainly gave smiles all around to the members of Ensiferum! The sorcery of the ‘all members performing choir’ gave enchantment, as if it was their take of a Lord Of The Rings party. Ensiferum stirred Manchester to a unity like no other and they possessed an attractive set. Striking us next were a blend of orange lights and the artwork from the latest album “Surtur Rising” hovering over the stage. That can only signal the arrival of the Scadanavian battle force that is Amon Amarth. Looking over the floor, Viking hats and battleaxes were prepared, ready for war as the intro roared through the speakers.

The opening track ‘War Of The Gods’, followed by hell-beaters ‘Runes To My Memory’ and ‘Guardians Of Asgaard’, along with the orange lights felt like Manchester was experiencing being in the centre of a volcanic eruption. The members, vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Olavi Mikkonen & Johan Söderberg, bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Fredrik Andersson, comprised together created a bruising alliance, enticing their troops with more devastating bone-crushers ‘Destroyer Of The Universe’, ‘Live For The Kill’, ‘A Beast Am I’ and ‘Varyags Of Miklagaard’.

A quick break lead to rolls of thunder, crashing waves and the cracks of the audience’s clapping hands brought to ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’. The singing coming from the lungs of Manchester was louder than Johan‘s, which amazed the band. To close their thunderous set was the mighty ‘The Pursuit Of Vikings’, which gave one last massive explosion. It left the crowd shedding a couple of pounds in the process. A job well done and dusted!

Still buzzing from the Amon Amarth set, the crew were setting up the stage with the newest album “Relentless, Reckless, Forever” artwork montage and surprisingly, very long torn and worn rags that hung from the ceiling. As it was all completed, the rags started to float. It seemed to represent something a little unpleasant, like a deserted room with something waiting to just pounce at you. That’s when the lights dimmed, announcing  the arrival of Finnish’s quintet Children Of Bodom. The opening set consisted of the tracks ‘Not My Funeral’, ‘Bodom Beach Terror’, ‘Needled 24/7’ and newest songs from their recent opus, ‘Ugly / Relentless Reckless Forever’, completely firing up the crowd.

Lead guitarist and vocalist Alexi Laiho, drummer Jaska Raatikainen, bassist Henkka Seppälä, keyboarsist Janne Wirman and guitarist Roope Latvala made themselves present to all in Manchester and were not backing down, went into rocking ‘Roundtrip To Hell And Back’, ‘In Your Face’ (which the room rocketed with INCOMING) and ‘Living Dead Beat’. Alexi told the audience “we are taking you to old school” with their blistering ‘Children Of Bodom’, which led to ‘Hate Me!’, ‘Blooddrunk’, ‘Shovel Knockout’, ‘Angels Don’t Kill’ and another classic ‘Follow the Reaper’. An excerpt from Amercian Psycho led to the more heavy, yet relaxing ‘Downfall’.

The one aspect that really impressed the team was the skills and precision of Janne Wirman tinkling the ivories. We looked very closely at his fingers and it confirms that it was perfect! Very fair play to him, despite of having ladies underwear wrapped around his weapon of choice!

With the encore coming towards the end of the night, a prettty sweet keyboard solo led to the other members to join in the fun, only to cut short by Alexi, who jokily demanded to stop. A few seconds later, they started again when Alexi was about to address his people. That made Manchester giggle for a good while, until Alexi did say “it was time for some serious business”. The band then went to ‘Was It Worth It?’ that caused the crowds to do infectious clapping until they closed with ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’, a show stopping tune that led to Alexi to belt from his lungs “you kicked Norwich’s asses tonight, thank you!” to bring the show to a close.

The night was a very energetic one. But, with every concert had its drawbacks. There were two worries however. As people may have noticed, Alexi Laiho is the lead guitarist, taking many of the priorities to the solos and guitar riffs. We noticed Alexi expressing his concerns about his guitar levels was lower than his sidekick Roope Latvala, it is a shame that Alexi to chose express his concerns so publicly.

We also felt that  midway through the Children Of Bodom set, their set was lacking in stage presence in terms of how to entertain the crowds. However, the beginning of their set was straight up, very good and towards the end of the show that they started to play with their audience. We felt that Amon Amarth and Ensiferum were stronger in their dynamics in playing and interaction of the crowd than Children Of Bodom. It’s not the first time the headline act has been marginally upstaged by their support acts and it won’t be the last… All in all a great night and the Manchester masses left the building physically drained, but contented!

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