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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Wolves In The Throne Room (Review By Paul H)

Wolves In The Throne Room, The Globe, Cardiff

This was something special. A sweltering night, an appreciative and knowledgeable crowd and two stunning bands made The Globe the place to be. WITTR hadn’t played more than one UK date (2017’s DesertFest) since 2012, and this was their debut in Wales (source: Setlist FM). Both bands released superb albums in 2017, Wode’s Servants Of The Counter Cosmos and WITTR’s Thrice Woven both receiving high ratings on the blog. The only question to ask was why wasn’t the venue bursting at the seams? As it was, with the heat wave stoking the temperatures way above the 30° mark in the old cinema, fewer people at least made the experience a bit more comfortable.

Mancunians Wode (9) formed in 2010 and have released two albums, their self-titled debut in 2016 and the sophomore release last year. Both albums are crafted epics, full of layered atmospheric black metal with themes of occultism, death and the cosmos. The band took the stage close to 8pm and proceeded to deliver 35 minutes of magnificent music. It’s sometimes hard to describe the attraction of black metal, with its roaring vocals often unintelligible to the listener, but Wode’s musicianship provided clear evidence of the appeal. Gloriously technical, guitarist Dan Shaw double picking and tremolo riffing in a frenzied kaleidoscope of ferocity. Meanwhile, how drummer Tim Horrocks, resplendent in his Manilla Road shirt, maintained such intensity in the heat was remarkable.

The 35 minutes was absorbing, with the silence between songs not in any way a reflection on the band but merely the stunned silence as Wode pummelled us into complete submission. Bassist Ed Troup played it as cool as he could, his leather waistcoat making him look more suited to a routine rock band but his thunderous bass lines anything but routine as the ear drums were crushed. Meanwhile frontman, vocalist and guitarist Mike Czerwoniuk snarled and growled his way through the set, his gargantuan riffs adding even more meat to an already intense mix. A quite fantastic set which could have lasted all night and we wouldn’t have cared.

You know you are in for something special when the headline act drape huge cloth banners across not only the rear of the stage but the front speaker stacks as well. A hushed audience watched as WITTR (10) took to the stage, atmospheric synths hauntingly clinging to every sinew as the fires were lit, clearly in total contempt of the house management who looked on with some alarm as the incense billowed. Brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver are now accompanied by long time live guitarist (and now permanent member) Kody Keyworth, whilst Brittany McConnell provide keys and percussion and Peregrine Sommerville added even more depth with a third guitar. The ritual began, Thuja Magus Imperium from Celestial Lineage sounding monstrous with the three guitars and Weaver’s incredible drumming. The sound was just astonishing, and a wall of sonic devastation just flowed for the next 90 minutes,

There is little communication with the audience; WITTR just get on with it and they did this astonishingly well. Each track proving to be epic in composition and duration, Sommerville and Keyworth thrashing their guitars, headbanging whilst never missing a beat as the music drew gasps from the crowd. It was that powerful. Huge tracks from Thrice Woven, Born From A Serpent’s Eye and the epic Angrboda followed, enhanced by the simple red lighting and intoxicating mix of incense and man sweat which was by now permeating around the venue. As the intensity reached even greater heights, I found myself totally absorbed by the sound that was swirling around the venue, caressing the audience like a serpent’s coils.

By the time the closing track arrived, I was spent; my energy sucked out of my body by the emotional experience that this epic black metal outfit generate. If you happened to get to this show, you will feel honoured and stimulated by the experience. If you missed out, well, what can I say? An evening of majestic and imperious quality. It was an honour to be in the audience for one of the most incredible shows The Globe has ever seen.

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