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Saturday, 26 May 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Wiegedood (Live Review By Both Paul's)

Wiegedood & Dawn Ray’d, Louisiana, Bristol (Review By Paul Scoble)

The Louisiana is quite an odd venue (that’s not a criticism). Downstairs is a normal, comfortable pub. The gigs happen upstairs, in a room that looks like someone's living-room. Albeit, a living room with a stage, P.A. and mixing desk. However, the slight oddness of the venue just added to how special this gig was. Wiegedood and Dawn Ray’d are 2 of the best black metal acts currently active. Wiegedood’s De Doden Habben Het Goed II and Dawn Ray’d’s The Unlawful Assembly were both in my top ten albums from last year, and De Doden Habben Het Goed III will probably be in my top ten for this year. So, saying I was a little excited about this gig is a massive understatement. I got the feeling that quite a few of the (quite large, considering it was a Sunday) audience felt the same way.

Dawn Ray’d (9) have a very distinctive sound. The 3 piece ( F. Devlin - guitar, S. Barr - vocals and violin, M. Broadley - drums) stand out in a scene that is stuffed with bands, by using violin to bring melody to a pretty brutal black metal sound. Although, they don’t sound that ‘folky’, the violin plays the part that a second, melody guitar would usually play. This gives their music an individual sound, that is their own. When they blast, they don’t mess about, clearly drawing influences from second wave black metal. At times, I’ve found their more extreme moments to be a little reminiscent of Panzerfaust era Dark Throne (which is the best era Dark Throne).

All the material they played at the Louisiana came off the The Unlawful Assembly album and live it has even more power than it has on the album. The band played with total conviction, the face shredding blasts were perfect. The slower, quieter moments played with delicacy and poise. The violin really gives them an interesting sound, adding melody and tunefulness, even when the guitar and drums were a their most viscous. They gave us a really great set, which the audience obviously enjoyed, and I got the feeling the band enjoyed playing just as much.

Wiegedood (9) have been pretty much the best thing in black metal for the last 2 years. The 3 albums De Doden Habben Het Goed I, II and III have had quite an effect on the Black Metal scene. The 3 piece (2 guitars and drums, doesn’t anyone play bass anymore?), play a style that is structurally atmospheric black metal, but has a sound that is as extreme and viscous as any second wave band. So, probably best to think of them as the most extreme atmospheric black metal band you are likely to hear. There was a air of excitement and anticipation in the crowd in the moments before the the band took to the stage.

Once on stage the band went strait into Oner Gaan from Part I, and totally blew the roof off the venue. Rhythmically, Wiegedood are very distinctive, and live this gives them a savagery very few bands can match. All the vocals are full on screaming, the closest they get to clean vocals, are a few passages where they have a low chanting style, that is quite close to throat singing. This was particularly effective on the song Doodskalm from the new album. When Wiegedood aren’t at full speed and intensity, they slow down for passages that manage to be hypnotic and menacing at the same time. The slow parts on Cataract were particularly effective, every head in the venue was nodding in time. This combination of savage intensity, and meditative menace, make the experience of seeing Wiegedood intensely cathartic. The end of each song was greeted by a huge amount of noise from the audience, it was a set that I, and the rest of the audience didn’t want to end.

I loved this gig, one of the best I’ve been to in a while. I liked the fact that this wasn’t a bill that was put together by simply putting whichever bands are hot at the moment, together. The 2 bands on the bill really complimented each other; musically and also, as far as ethos is concerned. The ticket price was only £10, and the merchandise was really cheap (I bought 2 T-shirts!). Both these bands give a shit about their music and their fans, and it showed in the performances, and the audiences reaction to them. Hugely enjoyable gig, if you get the opportunity to see either of these bands, then go, you won’t regret it!

Wiegedood, Shrines, Jotnarr, The Black Heart, Camden, London (Review By Paul H)

This was a first visit to The Black Heart in Camden Town for me as I was in London for work. For those who haven’t been, the venue sits above the pub and is cloaked in darkness. After the heat of the day in the City, getting out of the suit and into shorts and obligatory black tee was quite a relief. A full house was expected and by halfway through the opening band it was already pretty full.

Opening the evening was Colchester trio Jotnarr (6). The band play a vicious and schizophrenic brand of black metal interspersed with sludgy doom mid-sections which vary the pace and style sufficiently to keep the interest piqued throughout their short set. Painfully heavy, the band were a little disjointed but did enough to warm the incredibly cool room. Elements of death and thrash also surfaced and elicited a warm reception for from the audience. Not really a band I would spend much time exploring but brutally perfect for the first band.

Main support came from London based Shrines (6), a band that featured live member of Akercocke and Voices Sam Loynes. Enough to whet the appetite. However, within minutes of the band beginning their set the room had thinned considerably. Large gaps appeared as big swathes of the crowd decided a pint downstairs was the better option. This may have been because of the clean, mournful but somewhat tuneless vocals. Once Shrines got into their stride the ferocity ratcheted up a few levels. A muddy sound didn’t help, with guitars lost in the bass dominated mix and it was a rather uninspiring set, albeit one that improved as it progressed.

Having seen Belgians Wiegedood (9) at Damnation last year, I was very much looking forward to their set. Their latest release, De Doden Hebben Het Goed III is a total masterpiece with the atmospheric black metal really striking deep. The room filled to almost capacity as the band’s simple red lighting cast the perfect setting for an hour of majestic black metal. With their passages of intensity calmed with delicate almost acoustic sections, it was possible to immerse oneself in the moment.

With sight lines limited from my position towards the back, allowing the band's creative tendrils to envelope me, eyes closed, was an almost religious experience. Well, it would have been but for the bane of gigs at present, the incessant talkers who were so irritating that at one point even the band asked for quiet. I am at a loss as to why people do this at gigs, but it is becoming a blight which needs to be addressed. Despite this irritation, Wiegedood were absolutely stunning and their intensity and pure quality as one of the most important black metal outfits for some time ensured that this was a gig which would be remembered for some time.

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