Deicide? We Didn't Need No Stinkin' Deicide!
Akercocke, Mystic Circle and In Aeternum @ The Mean Fiddler, England, 8 June 2004
by: Jackie Smit
A haphazardly written sign tacked to the front entrance of The Mean Fiddler reads:

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, Deicide will not be performing this evening."

Unsurprisingly, the look on the faces of those who have taken the trouble to leave the office early, travel from far and wide and generally made the effort to make it to this evening's show, tell a mixed tale of disappointment, astonishment and disgust. Never mind the fact that this tour was announced in early March, giving Deicide ample opportunity to review the conditions set by the promoter (which supposedly is the reason for this unprofessional display), but one could safely bet that if both the band and the tour organizers had had the common courtesy to give punters even one week's notice, the Damageplan and Mastodon shows taking place down the road would have provided two very attractive alternatives for a night out.

Be that as it may, one would reasonably expect that in the light of these circumstances, the management at The Mean Fiddler would show just the slightest hint of empathy and competence in dealing with the disgruntled ticket-holders. Instead, they opt to solve the problem by charging attendees an additional £8.00 for entry, with the instructions that they will once again be obliged to sacrifice both their time and effort in order to get refund, but returning the tickets to the outlets they bought them from. Now certainly, I understand that doing things any differently might cause the odd complication, but in the light of the fact that over five hundred people have been told, upon their arrival at the venue, that the band they came to see won't be playing, I would suggest that any additional administration on the part of The Mean Fiddler would be a small price to pay to at least slightly appease the disappointed fans. Predictably, most of the people who were queuing outside go a big rubbery one when informed about this, and when security finally do open the doors after nearly an hour past schedule, precious few of them decide to go ahead and watch the remaining three acts.

For the rest of us, as if things couldn't get any more ludicrous, Swedish death metallers In Aeternum are given possibly the worst production that I have ever encountered. To their credit, the quartet do play their hearts out, but it is to no avail. Their sound is so muddied and distorted that one can barely hear their frontman thank the crowd when it comes time for them to leave.

The less said about Mystic Circle the better. Their ultra-generic black/death ironically provided the opening "entertainment" the last time that Deicide played The Mean Fiddler. They were terrible then, and they're even worse tonight. Okay, so maybe I'm being a little over-critical after the manner in which tonight kicked off. But songs like "666 - Mark of the Devil" and "God Is Dead - Satan Arise" are about as tepid and dull as their titles. Worse still, the absence of Deicide gives the band additional time to inflict their aural torture on us, and it is only after forty-five minutes of suffering that the band finally say their last goodbyes.

So with In Aeternum and Mystic Circle not providing any sort of escape from the frustration that has thus far plagued this evening, the majority of those present are just about ready to cut their losses and call it a night. That is until local heroes Akercocke take to the stage and play not only the best set I have ever seen them perform, but indeed quite possibly the most brutal, convincing set I have seen all year. "Scapegoat", "Enraptured by Evil", "Praise the Name of Satan", "Son of the North" -- every song sounds more intense and more determined than the next, and as if knowing that the onus is on them to make the best out of a rather fucked-up situation, they pore absolutely every last ounce of energy they have into their performance.

It's over all too quickly, and as if to underline their contempt for the very patrons that pay their wages, the Mean Fiddler security visibly rush to hit the lights, and begin urging the road crew to dismantle the backline and the rest of the equipment. This leaves Akercocke with no opportunity to provide us with an encore, even though they could most probably have played for a good hour more and still keep everyone captivated. Nevertheless their show provides a confident testimony that, provided they can create a worthy successor to their last _Choronzon_ opus, the world will soon be mentioning them in the same breath as the very elite of extreme music. I will freely admit to not being a fan of theirs since the very beginning, but based on the ample evidence provided by their last record and by the subsequent live shows I have had the pleasure of seeing, I stand happily corrected.

(article submitted 29/7/2004)

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