Taking to the stage like a longboat to frozen water, Manchester’s melodeath brutes Shades of Avalon played two well known Manchester venues in the same week.
Citing honourable influences such as metal and beer among bands like Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom and Immortal, although the subtle influences of the latter are palpable; the quartets affinity with all things Scandinavian ends there.
With complex duelling guitars and thrumming bass, backed by thundering drumming and finished with the harshest of vocals, Shades of Avalon transport the listener back in time, whizzing past the Vikings that so often get a look in on this type of music, and rewind to the murky past of our very own British Isles, as far back as 367 AD to reawaken the ghosts of a time gone by and a history long forgotten.
First up was the maiden voyage at Academy 3, where the band held their ground as the only metal act alongside a diverse number of acts (including a tiger headed bloke with a ukulele) in a charity battle of the bands. Despite the style of music not being to the taste of the majority of the audience, a healthy line of headbanging folk emerged at the front. With time for just 3 songs in their brief slot, including Aldar Rok, weighing in at a hefty 8 minutes, the band sallied forth with tons of energy. The tight playing and hearty applause at the end of each song could easily lead the onlooker to think the quartet was winding down from a long tour, rather than their first ever set.
Whispers of this small conquest must have spread, as by Friday night, the band was asked to fill in as last minute support for Jacknife Holiday and Not Above Evil at Manchester Roadhouse. Playing to a room of like minded onlookers and fellow musicians, Shades of Avalon elaborated on their earlier set, playing five blistering songs, including an as yet untitled piece featuring enough twiddly guitar work to leave the audience unsure as to whether it was dry ice or smoke from the guitarist fingers obscuring the band.
Shades of Avalon appear to have conquered new land and intend to expand and defend it in the coming year, with more gigging afoot. For those impartial to a wedge of melodeath without tinkling keyboards, or history aficionados fed up of what’s looping on the history channel and in search for more blast (beats) from the past, Shades of Avalon should amply tick both boxes.