To improve the understanding of unsteady flow in modern advanced axial compressor, unsteady simulations on full-annulus multi-stage axial compressor are carried out with the harmonic balance method. Since the internal flow in turbomachinery is naturally periodic, the harmonic balance method can be used to reduce the computational cost. In order to verify the accuracy of the harmonic balance method, the numerical results are first compared with the experimental results. The results show that the internal flow field and the operating characteristics of the multi-stage axial compressor obtained by the harmonic balance method coincide with the experimental results with the relative error in the range of 3%. Through the analysis of the internal flow field of the axial compressor, it can be found that the airflow in the clearance of adjacent blade rows gradually changes from axisymmetric to non-axisymmetric and then returns to almost completely axisymmetric distribution before the downstream blade inlet, with only a slight non-axisymmetric distribution, which can be ignored. Moreover, the slight non-axisymmetric distribution will continue to accumulate with the development of the flow and, finally, form a distinct circumferential non-uniform flow field in latter stages, which may be the reason why the traditional single-passage numerical method will cause certain errors in multi-stage axial compressor simulations.