It goes without saying that the anticipation for Krigsgrav‘s first tour had been steadily building over the last few months. Waves of Degradation, the well-received latest album from the black metallers from Texas had only just dropped on April 1st, and the timing of that was no accident of course. But Krigsgrav have been experimenting with and developing their own black metal sound for the better part of a decade, and having them announce a run of shows in the northeast, where this sound is very much at home, was reason for excitement. Joined by Giant of the Mountain, a death metal trio also from Texas, the stage was set for one hell of debut tour. And based on my experiences on April 8th in Portland, Maine, it was well worth the wait. Disclosure: Falls of Rauros headlined this evening’s show, but I had prior commitments that required an early exit.
Believe it or not, this was only my second excursion to Portland for a concert. The first of which was Slayer just last year. And that’s a shame, because Portland is an amazing city with an awesome music scene and even better night life. So I made a night out of this one. For reference, Portland is about an hour north of Portsmouth (about the same distance as Boston) up in Maine. So, wasting no time after work, north I headed, trusty Nikon in tow. After some food and a few rounds at Sebago Brewing, I made for the SPACE Gallery in the heart of the city. The concert was a first for me on a number of levels. For one, it was my first time at this particular venue. This isn’t much of a surprise because it’s one of the smallest venues I’ve ever been to, but it’s another spot crossed off the list in New England. More than that, though, this was my first show that I documented with my camera. My real camera. And that was a major player in the overall enjoyment of the evening.
The show began at about 8:50, right on time relative to the scheduled 8:30 start, and an experimental band called Ada took the stage. I’m reflecting on this show now and still have no idea who these guys are. Apparently they are a group formally known as Butcher Boy. Their sound was not metal. It was this weird ambient noise jam rock stuff that just continued on and on and on. It was incredibly spacey and thought-provoking, just a very curious energy level given the bands that would follow them up. Regardless, they sounded alright, and after half an hour or so gave way to Giant of the Mountain.
Giant of the Mountain, to put it bluntly, was not the band I was here to see. Sure, I checked out 2014’s Moon Worship once or twice for the sake of familiarity, but never invested much more time than that. So I didn’t really have any expectations or level of excitement in the minutes leading up to their set. But god damn did they kick ass. After Ada soothed us all into a coma, Giant of the Mountain unleashed a wave of ferocious death metal that opened everyone’s eyes very quickly. Most of the tracks they played were newer, which was fine, but it was the energy and quality of sound that resonated. The sound was crisp, the leads flawless, and the sound just massive overall. My roommate, Adam, who is not an extreme metal fan in the slightest (it took some convincing for him to get dragged along this evening) immediately took to them and promptly bought every album they had at their merch table. A very powerful trio, indeed, Giant of the Mountain brought the energy in the SPACE Gallery way up, lining up Krigsgrav’s set nicely. And after all, this was the set I was really excited to see. Camera ready, Krigsgrav took the stage around 10:30.
Krigsgrav’s set only ended up being about four songs. That may sound minimal, but when you factor in the duration of their songs, the atmosphere they create, and how complex and diverse their music can be, four songs ended up working better than I would have anticipated. While the acoustics of the SPACE Gallery had been good-not-great all evening, they seemed to project the music from this set better than either of the two preceding acts. Krigsgrav themselves sounded amazing. Only a few tracks, but still a mix of past and present, the energy they created was a mix of ambient folk metal and blistering tremolo picking and blast beats of more familiar black metal. The sound meandered from one minute to another, leaving all in attendance completely captivated by the instrumentals and Cody Daniel’s vocals (Giant of the Mountain), who did a tremendous job of standing in for Justin on this particular tour.
There were no points in the set that lost anyone’s interest in attendance. The swaying from lighter, ambient metal to the fiercer passages was done seamlessly (which can be a challenge in live performances), keeping the whole set — even with the longer tracks — interesting start to finish. Even though I wasn’t able/didn’t stay through the headlining act of the evening, this was an awesome set to close the night on and I can say with confidence that Krigsgrav’s first tour will prove a successful one if all their performances going forward are as impressively executed as this one.
In all, my second concert of 2016 (yes, only my second) was a complete success… minus missing Falls of Rauros of course. The setting was perfect for the music, and the music itself was impressive — albeit diverse — and being able to document the whole thing with a bit more quality (there are A LOT more pictures) made the night that much more enjoyable. Side note before I wrap up: my apologizes to any attendees who I may have obstructed in my attempt to show off my amateur photography skills… I sure you hope you understand. But yes, I was that guy.
Anyway, in closing, if you have yet to check out either Krigsgrav or Giant of the Mountain live, I encourage you get a ticket for one of these shows on this current run. It’s well worth it. The current tour runs through the rest of this week or so, with a few stops along the east coast still upcoming. And if you haven’t seen a show in Portland, either? Yeah, it also wouldn’t kill you to add that trip to your to-do list.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”