Wolves In The Throne Room – May 22nd – Europa, Brooklyn

I showed up to Europa just as Thrones was finishing. I didn't have any particular interest in the openers this night. I was there strictly for the grim Cascadian black metal horde.
A Storm of Light put on a decent performance of droning doom with an excellent visual display throughout. The best moments of their set, for me at least, were when they were joined on stage by female vocalist Nerissa Campbell. Clearly she was no amateur and offered a powerful presence to the tracks. It was my secret hope that she'd join Wolves In The Throne Room later on to help out (this was not the case).
So, Europa. The place is certainly interesting. The venue is basically a dance club. The stage is very small and the sound system isn't particularly geared towards acoustic excellence. As would be expected, the speakers were aimed very much towards the low end of the audio spectrum.
It's been a long while since I saw a headliner setting up their own equipment. The stage was so small that WITTR couldn't set up their gear before-hand. Right off the bat, this humanized the band. Actually, things were already demystified for me when Nathan Weaver sold me a tour t-shirt.
WITTR finished setting up and lit a ton of candles, placing them around the tiny low stage. After some tense discussion, the band convinced the venue to turn off all of the strange dance club mood lighting. The desired effect was finally achieved. Things felt tense. Nathan Weaver seemed like a ball of energy about to explode and none too impressed with the venue. Finally, WITTR started to play.
If I recall correctly, “Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog” started off a set heavy on new material. The band absolutely raged, but the sound was awful and impossibly loud. Most nuance to the guitar was wiped out by the bass heavy mix. You could actually barely hear the drums at all. When's the last metal concert where you couldn't hear the drums? Earplugs helped out a lot – I could distinguish much more of the guitar sound and hear Aaron Weaver's drums. I feel that the dynamics of a lot of their new material is really driven by the drumming, which made the situation that much worse. I don't actually know who the bass player was, but the bass was very high in the mix ended up being distracting for the vast majority of songs.
The venue was packed and the crowd was moving more than I thought it would. Speaking of the crowd, this show drew a diverse cast of characters, including a fair share of painfully cool hipsters. I would complain more, but seriously, I'd rather a show be packed with hipsters than empty. To each his own.
Nathan Weaver is a wild beast on stage. His picking hand is moving at absurd speeds at all times. Will Lindsay also provided an excellent stage presence and did a great job sharing the vocals on the newer tracks. Aaron Weaver really is amazing. I just wish his drumming performance had been easier to appreciate.

I was happy to hear some of my favorite riffage from Two Hunters during the set. I suppose some of the songs must have been shortened in some manner for the show, but the tracks from Black Cascade really sounded fantastic live. Overall, the performance was engrossing and induced headbanging throughout. The best treat for me was when they closed with “Queen of the Borrowed Light” off of Diadem of 12 Stars. It suffered ever so slightly from lack of female vocals, but it's one of my favorite WITTR songs and had the most moshable riffs of any track that night. It was a wise decision. Overall, I had a great time at the show. It's a shame that shoddy sound diminished the evening, but WITTR still reigned triumphant. I can't wait to see this band again in the future. Their rapid rise in popularity should ensure a better venue on their next visit to NYC.

Here's a video of the band performing "Ahrimanic Trance" from the show:


In fact, you can watch a video of what appears to be almost the entire show here:

3 comments:

God F'ing Dethroned

I've really been in the mood for death metal lately. Nothing flashy or technical - just bread and butter death with some melodic sauce.
I've been totally stoked about the latest God Dethroned album, Passiondale. After seeing news that they'd be touring North America this fall, I figured it was high time to check out their back catalog. On Passiondale, God Dethroned are reunited with drummer Roel Sanders. I've read a couple of interviews with main-man Henri Sattler where he talks about how the band has renewed the fire they had on their early albums. In particular, he mentions The Grand Grimoire (1998) and Bloody Blasphemy (1999) - albums Roel Sanders originally played drums on. I thought that would be a good place to start.
Both albums are fantastic. The Grand Grimoire probably bears the most resemblance to Passiondale. The album has a satisfying death metal sound, with tinges of blackness and some nice melodies that don't emit a single whiff of cheese. I really like Henri Sattler's vocals here. Memorable choruses and sensible song structures are a good sign. A lot of times I get a Once Sent From The Golden Hall vibe, which is extraordinary. At other times the tunes tremolo out and make me think of Dissection. Can't go wrong there.
Bloody Blasphemy shows some signs of progress, but the sound is still excellent. There are few sections of clean vocals that add flavor. The rhythms are a little bit quicker and blacker, but still exhibit excellent riffing and memorable melodies. I'm impressed.
So why didn't I ever get into God Dethroned in this era? I have no idea, to be honest. I definitely saw the band live at some point, but it just didn't register. Naturally, the lyrics are of a blasphemous nature, but they don't seem to take the shtick too seriously (as is evidenced by their latest output.)
I never seem to stop finding bands I like. It's one of my favorite things about metal. No matter how big my CD collection gets, there is always something new to discover. I'm sure my wife would disagree with this sentiment.
Needless to say, I'll be checking out God Dethroned on tour this fall.

0 comments:

Mastodon, Kylesa and Intronaut – May 9th - Irving Plaza, NYC

This concert had an air of danger to it. I had doubts as to how Crack the Skye would sound live. I'd seen some rough reviews of the live shows and even disconcerting accusations that Mastodon were lip-syncing on this tour. Mastodon would triumphantly trample those doubts into dust, and put on an epic performance for the ages.
Elizabeth and I met up with Dave and Jackie and got to Irving at an early hour. Intronaut put on a decent show. I'm not much into their Neurosified post-metal shtick, but I was surprised that their recorded material sounded much better than their live show. Jeanne Fury and my brother Rich showed up, and we formed the posse of power in time for Kylesa.
I was looking forward to Kylesa, and they put on a good performance. The dueling drummers were certainly entertaining. For the most part, though, the novelty of their acoustics was lost in the live setting. The sound was decent. Laura Pleasants' vocals were great, but overall I thought the band lacked some of the intensity of their recorded sound.
In short order, Mastodon came out. Irving was sold out and bursting at the seams. It had been a balmy day, and the weather inside had a sopping wet July feel to it – the kind of weather that demands cold alcoholic beverages.
From the first notes of “Oblivion,” I think everyone knew this shit was going to rule. The crowd didn't waste a moment in becoming Brann Dailor's puppets. The place was moving.
The quality of the vocal performance became evident right off the bat. Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders had to strain to hit these notes. But hit the notes they did. The effort they put into their performance was evident, and lent the vocals a more intense and energetic feel then was recorded on the album. I was not expecting the vocals to actually sound BETTER in a live setting. Unbelievable. The imperfections of the performance proved that there was no slight of hand going on here. Troy Sanders has really come into his own as a vocalist. Brent Hinds is an alien.
Crack the Skye raged from start to finish. If you've seen the band before you know there was no doubt they would slay instrumentally. Mastodon were joined by Rich Morris on keyboards (who recorded on the album) for the show, which really added to the progged out atmosphere. Brent Hinds of course shredded the shit out of his guitar. As I kind of expected, Brann Dailor's drums were more intense live. It's impossible to even describe his percussive mayhem.
Crack the Skye is almost tailor made for a live show. It has thrashing moments of moshing madness. It has chill parts where you can regain strength and acquire drinks. It even has some droning passages that are perfect for a pee break.
I think it was a pretty intense experience. I was impressed at the volatility and energy of the crowd throughout. As the final notes of “The Last Baron” faded out, I couldn't believe there would be a second set of older songs. Bands just don't do stuff like this anymore. Perhaps the attention span of metal folks has waned. Maybe metal fans are just getting old. I can't recall a marathon metal experience like this since Chuck Shuldiner pummeled Coney Island High for 3 hours on a night of complete Death in 1998. On to round two.
I think Mastodon over-toured for Blood Mountain, and I definitely attended one too many of their shows for it. The last time I saw them, their mailed-in performance was blown off the stage by co-headliners, Against Me!. Despite that fact, the pile of songs they played off Blood Mountain sounded fresh and energetic on this night. Maybe that's because they played each song at warp speed.
The set list played out in reverse chronological order. Unbelievably, the crowd got rowdier with each progressively older track. At one point I was so hot and thrashing so hard that I almost ripped off my shirt. That NEVER happens. “Iron Tusk” and “March of the Fire Ants” put an end to the evening in fine fashion. I don't know how the band did it, I don't know how the crowd did it, and I'm surprised to still be alive. Definitely one of the best shows I've ever seen.
I have to give shout outs to Dave and Jackie for hitting up this show on their trip out from SF. Unbelievably, they rocked the Brooklyn show on the following night as well. Fucking troopers.

Set list:
Oblivion
Divinations
Quintessence
The Czar
Ghost Of Kareila
Crack The Skye
The Last Baron

Bladecatcher
Colony Of Birchmen
The Wolf Is Loose
Crystal Skull
Caperlian Crest
Megalodon
Seabeast
Iron Tusk
March Of The Fire Ants

2 comments:

Gojira - May 6th - The Blender Theater, NYC

Holy. Fucking. Shit. That happened. Gojira surely put on one of the best performances I have ever seen. The intensity and perfection of this show ranks up there - the first time I saw Pantera; At The Gates back in the day; early Mastodon; Carcass. Flying fucking whales.
Rich, Chrissy, and I showed up early at the venue. If nothing else, The Blender Theater is a great place to hang out. We headed straight for the downstairs lounge, where the guys from Gojira were doing an interview of some sort. We love the Duplantier brothers. I'm talking serious bromance. The dudes at Metal Sucks know what I mean.
The Blender Theater has video of the upstairs show piped down into the lounge, and the sound down there is excellent. We couldn't think of any reason to go upstairs to sacrifice our ears for Carbomb or The Chariot. Not my style.
Frank joined us just in time for Gojira to come out. The floor was pretty packed. I have no idea what happened with that Napalm Death show, but there was an excellent turnout for Gojira.
"Oroborous" started things off slow. The crowd was winding up tighter with every moment of synchronized finger tapping. Shit exploded with "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe." The crowd was excellent. Before we knew it, my brother Rich had lost his shirt in a raging circle pit.
The band tossed around ridiculous feats of musicianship with ease. Joe Duplantier's singing was awesome. The man seems to stand 13 feet tall on stage. The band really do have superhuman stage presence. And the drumming. THE DRUMMING.
Mario Duplantier raged with uncontrollable perfection. His drum solo is easily the best I have ever seen. In a few terse moments he basically composed an original percussive song. Unreal.
Gojira makes you move. I saw some of my favorite NYC metal show regulars rocking out. I always love the dude who grooves like it's a f'ing dance off. Total metal. I feel like a show is a failure if I'm not headbanging and doing all of the ridiculous dances that burst out when I'm alone at home. This show elicited nothing less than a rapturous religious experience. I definitely knocked over a few people with my awesome leprechaun jigs.
It was an excellent night.

Setlist:
Oroborous
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
Backbone
Love
From the Sky
A Sight to Behold
Art of Dying
Drum solo
Clone
Flying Whales
Toxic Garbage Island
The Way of All Flesh
--------------------
Vacuity

1 comments:

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