Wolves In The Throne Room + Wode
@ The Garage
23rd June 2018
Review By: Beandog
Photography by: Thomas James Henry Saunders
I’ve always enjoyed gigs at the Garage.
It’s a good “Academy” sized venue that has so far avoided the lure of corporate sponsorship and seems to have refreshingly maintained its independence.
If memory serves, my first gig here was the Galactic Cowboys (remember them?.. or am I showing my age here?) somewhere around the mid-nineties. I’ve been coming back fairly regularly ever since and among other bands, I’ve seen shows by Deftones, Repulsion, Crowbar, Danzig and Church of Misery here.
I’ve always associated the place with having a good time; which is a great headspace to be in as I make the brief trip across the road from Highbury and Islington Station to the venue.
Due to a 22:00 curfew, tonight is a strict 19:30 kick off. I cross the threshold bang on time and as I make my way past the box office to get patted down by security I can already hear the dense rattle of support band, Wode shaking the walls from behind the last set of doors.
I was pleased to discover Wode had been listed as support tonight. On a recommendation earlier in the year, their Servants Of The Countercosmos album had been taking up a lot of my headphone time a few months ago and I have been anticipating the chance to hear their blackened filth in a live environment.
Originating from Manchester, they are a disparate looking bunch who completely deliver on the promise offered by their two brutal and barbarous albums. No time is wasted in their set. They seem completely focused on delivering a sonic maelstrom of black metal, flavoured with the blunt ends of sludge and a light peppering of NWOBHM.
At this point in the evening, the Garage is still quite sparsely populated, but it is filling up quickly and Wode are obviously capturing the attention of a steady stream of metalheads filing into the venue. Some head to the bar, others to the front of the stage, but all heads turn towards what is proving to be a mercilessly intense performance from a band who seem very much on form. It’s a hearty recommendation from me should you ever get the opportunity to check them out.
By the time the stage has been prepared for Wolves In The Throne Room, the Garage looks close to being full to capacity. Also, the headliners have made a strong effort to ensure their set looks as good as we anticipate it sounding. The stage is draped with Norse imagery and given the look of an ancient forest. There are tree branches set into the back line and further nods to heathen culture are made via shields and pieces of iron/metal work front and centre.
The metal tunes playing out over the P.A are replaced by a repeating sample of atmospheric, dreamlike sound effects. Then, as a final touch before the band takes to the stage, some incense is burned with its aroma left to drift across the crowd.
It’s a credit to the band that they obviously intend their show to be a completely immersive experience. It’s certainly an effort above one most bands would make in this sized venue. The crowd’s appreciation for this is obvious as they let out a blazing roar to welcome the band and usher in opening tune, Thuja Magus Imperium.
With three guitarists up front, Wolves Of The Throne Room’s sound is an impressive layering of thick riffs and dark melodies. The effect is a wash of black metal psychedelia that forms the foundations of each song in this set.
Tracks like Born From The Serpent’s Eye and Angrboda are built on intense, relentless passages in which the musicians create something consistently majestic underneath the savage vocals of Nathan Weaver . The sonic turmoil is persistent but offset by Brittany McConnell’s ethereal keyboard parts and an occasional break into slower, doom-like tempos.
Fires Roar In The Palace Of The Moon is a good example of this, and as such, the crowd are completely enthralled by its brooding mid-section before it explodes back into a hammering blast beat.
There are very few breaks in the intensity. Between songs there are some brief, atmospheric interludes, but mostly, this is an unabating black metal muster, delivered with passion and a high level of musicianship. Special credit should go to drummer Aaron Weaver, who maintains an inhuman level of ferocity throughout the evening.
Wolves In The Throne Room have not disappointed tonight. It’s been a set full of highlights, but without a doubt, the biggest cheer of all comes with the opening refrain of I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots. It’s one final rampage through the Wolves’ glorious cacophony and it seals this reviewer’s opinion that Wolves In The Throne Room can effortlessly hold their own against some of the best heavy metal out there.
It’s a thought I carry with me as I exit the venue into the still shining sunlight of the summer’s evening outside. An odd juxtaposition, given the bleak intensity of the performance I’ve just seen; but it does nothing to diminish the memory of what has been an excellent gig.
Wolves In The Throne Room Setlist:
Thuja Magus Imperium
Born From The Serpent’s Eye
Fires Roar In The Palace Of The Moon
Prayer Of Transformation
I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots