Larger name extreme metal billings don't often find their ways across the Celtic border, particularly on the black metal front. Prior to Nargaroth visiting earlier this year and the Eradication Festival Sunday events, one of the last notable showings was Gorgoroth playing with Vital Remains in the Globe some years ago. So when Old Empire and Eradication Booking Agency succeed in securing Winterfylleth's 10th anniversary tour to the capital, it's a boon for the local scene and it's right that people come in numbers and make the journeys that clearly happened last night to generate a better turnout. Following on from European shows in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, the only band on the tour billing who we were unfortunate not to see were the mighty Fen, but the good news is they're coming next year to Eradication 2018.
Necronautical (8) opened the evening with their own brand of Grim Euphoric Black metal. This is the 3rd time they've graced the city this year following on my first encounter with them on a show I was fortunate to also be playing supporting Scordatura back in February, and their return 2 months later playing the Eradication Festival Sunday. Led by Russell "Naut" Dobson (also of UK black metal titans Ethereal), the four-piece blitz through just shy of 30 minutes worth of synth-backed hook driven malevolence.
Trading overtones of the better parts of Dimmu with an undercurrent of the ferocity of Zyklon, Necronautical clearly had no difficulty winning over a quickly growing audience unfamiliar with their brand, and an invitation to a good ol' fashioned black metal sing-along was met well (spoiler: it's mostly just a shrill shriek accompanied by holding invisible grapefruit). As tight as you could expect of a band that's shared the stage with Dark Funeral and Hecate Enthroned, and no doubt one to keep your ears primed for when they next do the rounds. Be sure to check out their excellent 2016 album The Endurance At Night.
I did Wiegedood (9) a disservice by not investigating them prior to setting off to the gig, although I definitely should've heeded Old Empire's event post hours prior where they made no over-embellishment of their performance in London the night before. Hailing from Belgium, a country that not exactly known for its exploits in the genre outside of Saille, Oathbreaker (of whom they share some members) and Enthroned, I'm pretty sure that the bulk of the venue didn't really know what they were in for. Their name translates to "death in the cradle" - and they were about as loud and angry as a three-piece devoid of bassist could be - I'll iterate that it didn't matter too much given the guitars were also being driven through additional bass cabs to supplement the massive sonic presence they were generating.
They were also certainly not the most talkative band of the evening preferring to rely on noise-presence alone to any form of interaction, which is just as well given Levy Synaeve (vocals & guitars) had the dishevelled appearance of someone who'd recently emerged from a cave.
Wiegedood play an intense brand of atmospheric black metal and switches seamlessly between bleak low-gain melancholic passages and full throttle blast-beat powered malignance, letting the instrumentation do the leg work and with vocals as well-worked in punctuation. They never felt stale and switched up the tempo between songs, using ambience to connect the calm with the chaos. Definitely one of those bands that take you to a different place, 45 minutes passed far too quickly, and the whole affair was more akin to an experience rather than a gig.
I could entirely see why they were picked as a compliment to Winterfylleth as there's a fair share of similarities between the two, with Wiegedood being perhaps a more visceral counterpart to their more refined tour companions. If anything that served only to ensure that the UK lads would be on top of their game when they follow on as they knocked a crowd that was probably already struggling with heat exhaustion for six. I DEFINITELY had to buy a CD (although charging more than the headliners is a tad cheeky fellas! I hope that didn't put others off.)
This was headliner Winterfylleth's (8) first foray to Cardiff, and my only hope is that it won't be their last after Fuel quite possibly might have evaporated them. For the uninitiated, Winterfylleth play Folk/English history orientated Black metal with clear melodic influences, with memorable songs that can conjure just about every emotion simultaneously, and have enjoyed a good degree of success domestically and internationally as both a recorded and live unit.
A decades worth of experience and material was trimmed into just about an hours worth of uncompromising setlist that didn't disappoint in the slightest. Clearly the band the majority of the attendees were there for, opening track The Wayfarer Pt 1 is met with hypnotic nods of approval that barely stop throughout the set. The sound is a little muddied to begin with but once their travelling engineer gets to grips with the system they sound as good as the other bands.
Winterfylleth make every effort to cover as much of their busy back catalogue as they can despite their lengthy average song duration, picking out favourites such as A Valley Thick With Oaks from The Mercian Sphere, and songs from The Divination Of Antiquity and Threnody Of Triumph but not really drawing too much from more recent material, I didn't get the impression they could've done much wrong in the eyes of the crowd regardless.
Importantly, despite playing a mainstage slot at Bloodstock this year to a significantly bigger crowd, Cardiff was still treated to just as solid a set, and plenty joined in during iconic dual vocal choruses such as in The Swart Raven. Closing with a huge rendition of Defending The Realm the crowd was entirely agreed that enough wasn't enough and a chant of "one more song" unfortunately fell on deaf ears due to curfew
Overall, a quality evening of high calibre metal, not necessarily one for the pitters and someone looking for the showmanship and high-octane theatrics of their Norwegian counterparts, but a top tier lesson in how to be awed in a heavy way.