I had waited a long time to see the Casdia-based legends Wolves In The Throne Room in person. Yet somehow this show fell off my radar over the course of the summer. Had my thirst for this show been quenched, say, three years ago, I may have been a little more amped up for it. No matter, disregarding the curiosity that was Celestite and instead focusing on the recent re-release of Diadem of 12 Stars, I made the trip to Portland with plenty of excitement. It had been awhile since I last attended a black metal show, and what better way to break the slump than with the Weaver brothers? The evening certainly didn’t disappoint.
From Portsmouth, Portland is about an hour’s travel north. Not much more than Boston, but a far easier journey to be sure. For that reason, I took my time at the end of the work day and managed to arrive just before the opening act… I applaud my own planning skills sometimes. Much like the Krigsgrav show several months back, this show was held at the SPACE Gallery, a neat little venue downtown. The primary difference between this experience and my last at this venue was the fact that this show was (unexpectedly) sold out. And let me tell you; this quaint venue felt incredibly snug at capacity. But what can you say? It was great seeing everyone out for this weeknight black metal show. Warmed my fucking heart.
The opening act was local black metal/hardcore hybrid act Northern Curse. Based in New Hampshire — (hell yes) — Northern Curse impressed immensely with their blistering tremolo picking and aggressive vocals layered over a mesmerizing light backdrop. Represented by only two guitarists and a drummer, they created a sound significantly more immense than I could have anticipated. As I mentioned… I was definitely impressed by this opening set.
From there, we had Feral. Maine’s own black metal group definitely picked things up significantly from there, especially in terms of crowd. A far more complex sound (and some amusing corpse paint as part of the imagery) definitely fed into the crowd’s growing energy level. I didn’t particularly take to their sound as much as I had for Northern Curse, but they were certainly solid and on all fronts… if not a little over the top. Or a lot over the top. There were bones involved… kinda made me chuckle. But It was a cool set to experience… from the bar… pounding back IPAs.
And then we had Wolves. Oh, Wolves. How I love thee. One of my favorite black metal bands of all time was exactly what I expected them to be live. Candles covering the floor… fog cascading over the audience… it was awesome. The setlist was diverse, featuring a number of my favorite tracks including “Astral Blood” and “Vastness and Sorrow”. Between the lighting, the passion from the musicians themselves, and the energy of the group, it was insane hour of music. Full credit to WIITR for living up the hype.
My only knock? Fucking… mosh pits. I normally have no opposition to them. I get it. Metal brings the energy and aggression and for kids that don’t exercise regularly, it can be a fun time. But holy shit guys, this is Wolves In The Throne Room. They quite literally don’t want you to mosh. They want you to connect emotionally with the music — they want you to get sad with them! So can we please be a little more aware of the message behind the notes and not just look for an excuse to rub your sweaty ass body up on someone else? Thanks. Maybe I’m just an overly sensitive old fogie these days. Who knows. But it was brutally frustrating.
But hey! Everything else about this show was amazing. I’m thrilled Wolves set up this tour and allowed it to come east for the first time in what feels like (maybe is?) forever. It was absolutely worth the wait and I — as I always enjoy doing — added a couple awesome local bands to my periphery. Another solid experience at SPACE Gallery.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”