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Thursday 27 September 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Winterfylleth (Live Review By Paul H)

Winterfylleth, Meus, Wolcensmen, The Canal Bar, Nottingham

Following the release of one of 2018’s best albums, The Hallowing Of Heirdom, Mancunian atmospheric black metallers Winterfylleth decided to take the acoustic album out on the road. Selecting a few choice venues which suited the neo-folk style of the album, the band took in Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and London before heading to Belgium and Holland. The Dublin date fell to the weather, proving once again that the glamour of a touring band is non-existent. Travelling to Ireland and back by ferry when you have gigs book-ending the trip is challenging at any time.

Heading to Nottingham for the Sunday night gig on the tour, on first impressions the Canal Bar seemed to be an ideal venue. The function room about the main pub which stocks about a billion ales from all over the world was decked out with low lighting, many tealight candles and a couple of magnificent candle sticks which added to the ambiance and slow burning atmosphere. A seated gig, with a capacity of around 100, this was about as intimate an evening as you could get. Disappointingly, as the evening progressed, the behaviour of a few members of the audience soured what was a magical event; their constant chatter during key elements of the three sets was both infuriating and disrespectful to their fellow fans. Seeing these arseholes giving Winterfylleth a standing ovation was mighty irritating, given that they had talked loudly through most of the set.

Last year guitarist Dan Capp released a long-time piece of work, the debut album by his neofolk side project Wolcensmen (8). Songs From The Fyregen, described as epic heathen English folk, was amongst my top albums of the year. With Capp having provided most of the work on the album, he called upon his brothers in Winterfylleth to help live and the band and additional touring musicians were happy to oblige. A 30-minute set allowed Capp to showcase tracks from the album such as The Bekens Are Aliht, Hoofes Upon The Shymmeringe Path and The Fyre-Bough to an enchanted audience. Humble and unassuming, Capp led the band superbly through this acoustic set and whilst it was challenging to see the stage due to the layout of the room, the music was perfect. Transported away to a different time and place, it was easy to close one’s eyes and just relax. Maybe a bit too easy!

Next up was Meus (7), an English instrumental black metal folk band which consists of Tom Snelgrove and supporting musician. Meus played relaxing acoustic numbers which really encouraged you to sit back, close the eyes and allow the music to drift over and around. Despite the idiot quota rapidly increasing, the 40 minutes were enjoyable and perfectly in keeping with the atmosphere of the event. A solid choice of support.

The Hallowing Of Heirdom offered reprieve from the usual onslaught of black metal that Winterfylleth produce so well. Intimate and warm, melancholic and gentle, this is an album that you can get lost in for hours. The challenge was to deliver this perfect piece of music in the live setting. Well, I can assure you that this challenge was accepted and successfully met. The five members of the Winterfylleth (10), Dan Capp, Chris Naughton, Nick Wallwork, Simon Lucas and Mark Deeks joined by the beautiful strings of Ele Leckie on Cello and Bianca Blezard on violin produced one of the most fabulous evenings of music I’ve ever attended. Opening with The Shepherd, most of the audience was spellbound from the opening chords. Naughton, Capp and Deeks harmonised singing was fantastic, whilst there was rarely a note out of tune, some challenge in an acoustic show.

Chris Naughton’s explanations of the meanings behind songs such as Acerbot and Elder Mother were enlightening, whilst the enchantment of The Nymph and Latch To A Grave performed flawlessly. Mark Deeks’ sympathetic synths added layered warmth with Simon Lucas’ simple and delicate percussion complimenting the three guitars of Capp, Naughton and Wallwork. It wasn’t just The Hallowing Of Heirdom though, with the beautiful and delicate Children Of The Stones from The Mercian Sphere and The World Ahead from The Divination Of Antiquity fitting into the set with ease.

Moving position for the last couple of songs also afforded a better view of the band on the small stage and allowed me to experience the title track without the constant chatter from those at the bar. It was worth the move as the band concluded this special evening with the hairs on my neck standing up. Atmospheric, haunting, inspirational and exceptional. This was an evening to remember and for most of those present, one that will live long in the memory.

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