Wolves In The Throne Room

support Wolvserpent
author MST date 12/11/11 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

Wolves In The Throne Room is a band that I'd been looking forward to seeing ever since reading EW's review of 2009's "Black Cascade" two and a half years ago. On this November night finally getting to see one of my absolute favourite bands coincided with us (Marika 'MH' Hyldmar and the undersigned) meeting up with AP and TL from the Rockfreaks.net staff for the first time. Fun was had all around. But back to the point of this review. Approximately 3 weeks earlier EW attended the tour's stop at Xoyo, London. The location for the Danish gig was BETA, Copenhagen, a venue that albeit very small is a great setting for an evening such as this one. A few beers were had with AP before the opening act started at 10 pm. Let's see how that went.

Wolvserpent

Before the Wolves ascended the stage to bestow their enchanting ritual upon us it was up to a different breed of wolves to prepare the participants for what was to come. Though Wolvserpent's drone doom don't exactly sound like the black metal that Wolves In The Throne Room play, the atmosphere generated and indeed required to fully appreciate the music is very similar. At the very front of the stage guitarist/vocalist Blake Green stood next to a microphone stand directed at the left wall instead of the audience, so that when uttering his growls and shrieks he was never facing the crowd directly. In between vocal lines he played both slow, droning riffs as well as entrancing tremolo picking. On his left side Green had a keyboard set to playing even more entrancing ambient noise most of the set, but during what appeared to be a single long song divided into two parts, the keyboard was the only instrument he played while Brittany McConnell played the violin. The violin was only played in that one song though, because McConnell sat behind the drum kit during the rest of the set pounding drumskins at extremely low velocities. Judging a show like this is never easy, but for a first-timer like myself my thoughts are as follows: during the regular songs (or song, you never know) the duo did more or less what they could, and if the audience had known the music beforehand, there would probably have been more of a reaction, but I can't see how the violin track could ever have been a good choice to play at a show like this. Thus a compromise between the approved and unacceptable parts of the show concludes with:

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Wolves In The Throne Room

A beer and a few sound adjustments later, the wait was over. Leaving the middle of the stage open, the two guitarists had positioned themselves at the two front corners of the stage. Each of the guitarists had a blue light attached to his guitar that sent a dimmed cone of blue colour towards the walls and ceiling. Behind them were images of animals bathed in light of the same blue colour that surrounded the band. As anticipated, the set started with "Thuja Magus Imperium", the first song off WITTR's new album "Celestial Lineage", though in a shortened version with less intro because of the absence of Jessika Kenney's majestic clean vocals. I was in a state of pure joy, and not even drunken idiots moshing their way through the crowd to get to the front row managed to steal my attention from the fantastic music that the Weaver brothers and second guitarist Will Lindsay so naturally compose. But it wasn't until "Ahrimanic Trance" kicked in as the second song that I felt the full effect of the entrancing riffs and hypnotizing ambience. The song's name fits the music well, as the repetitiveness of the riffs, drums and ambience has a trance-inducing effect on the spectators who allow themselves to be fully engulfed by the waves of sonic emotion being emitted by the three Americans. Another altered track follows in "Cleansing" and once again the culprit is the absence of Jessika Kenney's clean chanting that leaves only half of the song untouched, but what a fantastic second half. It would've been absolutely epic had the first part of the song also been there, but a band must do what they can in a live environment, and they did nothing wrong in choosing the second half of "Cleansing" as the third song of the set. But all attention still went to the song that followed, namely "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots", the band's ultimate classic.

The "Celestial Lineage" tour had a purpose like all promotional tours, so it was given that the set would be ended with "Prayer of Transformation", the final song off the band's new opus. The slow, almost droning track deviates from the rest only in velocity, never in feeling, as the entrancing riffs and noisy feedback continue to keep listeners in a state of immobilization. As the last strokes of guitar riffs and the resulting feedback hinted at the approaching end, I found myself back in the state of pure joy of the previous hour, this time with an added sense of complete satisfaction. And so it came to pass that my WITTR-virginity was taken from me on a November night. And what a November night it was.

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Note: the image at the top of the review is of Wolvserpent. Because of the very limited lighting it was hard to get any kind of proper photos.

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