Nekrogoblikon + Æther Realm + Cage Fight at The Asylum, Birmingham – 19th September 2023


It’s been a wild ride for Cage Fight (interviewed here) since they dropped their eponymously-titled debut album last year (reviewed here). At the forefront of the whole crossover revival, the band have won many fans via their incendiary live shows, and a busy summer has found them setting a few festivals aflame. Due to other commitments, tonight finds the band reconfigured but they’re no less powerful, and they hit the ground running with opening shot ‘Shine Don’t Fade’. Inhabiting that magical space between metal and hardcore, Cage Fight operate a take-no-prisoners, scorched earth policy, yet for all their ferocity they never lose sight of melody and they soon get the whole venue bobbing in unison. There’s no fluff or filler here, just eight songs that offer an abject lesson in brutality.

After the crossover vibe of Cage Fight, Æther Realm offer up a more traditional brand of metal, and their sweeping soundscapes soon fill every nook and cranny of The Asylum. Specialising in a twin guitar attack, the band throw all the right shapes and dish out a brand of metal that’s hard to ignore. There’s something very insidious about the music of Æther Realm; this is not an instant sugar rush, rather it is a sound that slowly ingratiates itself into your psyche, and becomes part of your very physiology, and this makes for a shared experience. It’s as if the band and audience become one, and they fill our vessels with the very best in vast, epic metal. A solid set, and one I hope will be repeated very soon.

Both support bands tonight have been pretty dope, yet nothing can prepare us for the musical maelstrom that is Nekrogoblikon. With the stage bathed in demonic green light and the incidental music fading into the ether, a huge cheer erupts as the band hit the stage and launch into opening shot ‘Right Now’. From this moment on, things get extremely heavy, and slightly whacky (but in the best possible way), and how could things not seem surreal when a green, hunchbacked goblin (named “John”) prowls the stage, comprising one half of a vocal duo? What makes things more striking is that the rest of the band don’t bat an eyelid, and carry on as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. In fact, the rest of Nekrogoblikon are a blur of energy, and while the whole goblin schtick could have worn thin a while ago and branded the band a novelty act, their discography is so strong that it has ensured a longevity that others could only dream about. By the time we reach fourth song ‘We’ve Had Enough’ the floor is a sea of ululating bodies as the energy the band give off is absorbed by the crowd, and you can almost feel it crackling the air. The band deliver a career-spanning, best of set, that encompasses their whole musical output and culminates in a ferocious rendering of ‘This Is It’. The crowd chant for “one more song”, and Nekrogoblikon are happy to oblige not with one, but two, the first of which finds John in a gold lame suit for ‘Goblins’, looking like a freshly exhumed Elvis, while ‘Powercore’ brings the curtain down in some style and ensures Nekrogoblikon won’t be forgotten in a hurry (not that there was ever much chance of that).

Nekrogoblikon Set List:

  1. Right Now

  2. Dressed As Goblins

  3. No One Survives

  4. We’ve Had Enough

  5. Darkness

  6. Going To Die

  7. Bones

  8. Many Faces Of Dr. Hubert Malbec

  9. Skin Thief

  10. We Need A Gimmick

  11. Prince Of The Land Of Stench

  12. This Is It

  13. Goblins

  14. Powercore

Cage Fight Set List:

  1. Shine Don’t Fade

  2. Killer

  3. Guillotine

  4. One Minute

  5. The Mirror Shattered

  6. Respect Ends

  7. Eating Me Alive

  8. Hope Castrated