Wolves In The Throne Room

support Sunken
author RUB date 26/11/17 venue Atlas, Århus, DEN

Christmas is quickly approaching, and having just kick-started this year’s luncheons, I have a pretty hard time getting out of the door to go to yet another metal show tonight. But then I remember that one of the bands in question is the brilliant Wolves in the Throne Room, whom I’ve been dying to see since I last watched them live at Roskilde Festival in 2009, and I rush to the venue as fast as possible. With that in mind, as well as the weather being windy, dark and gloomy as is normal for this season, what better way to spend it than by listening to one of the best atmospheric/post-black metal bands out there? With the local black metal band Sunken tapped as support also, I have a very eerie Sunday ahead.

All photos courtesy of Kim Song Sternkopf / HeartMatter Artworks

Sunken

As I enter the venue, the smoke reaches all the way out to the entrance, which should warn outsiders about what’s about to unfold inside. The support band is very fitting, to say the least. Playing pretty much the same style of atmospheric black metal, the local five-piece has taken quite a lot of inspiration from tonight’s headliners. The crowd is noticeably scattered but all in all it’s a fair amount of people who have decided to turned up this Sunday. The band doesn’t seem to notice them, however, since they are 100% focused on delivering their music — and to be fair, you can’t really see from one end to another anyway since the smoke is so thick. I understand that it is part of the atmosphere, but it looks as if the smoke guy just turned it on and then forgot all about it.

The lighting is a constant dark blue, which is fitting to the bleak and gloomy nature of Sunken’s music. The song structure is per definition very progressive and long, and as such the 30 minutes that they play fly by quickly. The progressive nature of the songs is further underlined by the fact that they only manage to get through three songs. This isn’t really noticeable though, since the songs are so well-crafted and -connected that you don’t always realize when one song ends and another one begins. If one must put a finger on something negative about the concert though, it would have to be the sound, which, at times, sounds a bit flat. It seems like it lacks punch in both the vocals and drums (especially the snare drum, which is borderline inaudible at times — at least from where I am standing). This is a shame since lead singer Martin Skyum’s haunting shrieks fit the music so well. Overall though, the band performs well!

7

Wolves in the Throne Room

With an intro lasting some five minutes, the room turns dark. A few beams of bright, yellow light are cast onto the two side banners, which have some Norse mythology -style symbols written on them. Also, there is a constant white light on the metal-crafted symbol positioned dead centre on the stage. This is clearly a mood setter and people are already being drawn towards the stage, even though the rest of the stage remains completely dark. After the long build-up, the classic guitar intro of the first track, “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” from their new album “Thrice Woven”, is aired. The stage is now lit in cold yellow and blue lights and it really helps get into WITTR’s heads as their music revolves around nature, the cosmos and mythology. And as the quiet passage of the aforementioned song is reached, the entire room is smeared in darkness. Only a single beam of light hits the sigil at the front of the stage, and the breathtaking atmosphere, beautifully accompanied by the clean, female singing, really comes to its own. One quickly notices that the band doesn’t seem to have a bassist this time around, so apart from the two brothers, Aaron and Nathan Weaver, the line-up consists of Kody Keyworth & Trevor Deschryver, Peregrine Sommervile and Brittany McConnell on guitars, drums and keyboard, respectively. But despite this, the sound has improved from the opening act; the punch in both the vocals and drums is noticeably stronger now.

The audience stares at the stage in silence and awaits what’s about to unfold next. The song structure varies from blasting tremolo accompanied by haunting shrieks to quieter passages with droning synths and instrumental backdrops from Sommervile’s keyboard, and in between the songs, ocean-like sounds are played to tie the entire concert neatly together into what is essentially a single, magnificent song. Again though, the crowd is quite scattered and I’m not even sure the venue is half full. This is a bit unfortunate, as it takes something away from their performance. Perhaps it would have been more fitting to have this band playing a smaller stage, such as this venue’s own Atlas? To be sure, this doesn’t take anything away from the band, as they play with both vigour and flare, and the haunting songs are executed to perfection. Just as was the case with Sunken, interaction with the audience is kept to a minimum, but this is fine because it is done to keep the suspended atmosphere intact. The band is in a world of its own, and most likely the musicians don’t even notice the crowd in the smoke and incense -filled room.

Overall, the band manages to keep the crowd in a state of suspense by virtue of the progressive parts before the climax in each song is reached, and then blasts away in a vortex of tremolo and menacing screeches. Maybe I just had my expectations set too high — but the mood of the entire concert is not as intense as one could’ve hoped for, even though the band does everything right. It still misses that last elusive ’it’ to really make it a truly memorable and remarkable concert, but I would still go see them if I ever get the chance again! Alas, the wolves thus leave the stage without much fanfare and still without uttering a single word.

Setlist:

  • 01. Born from the Serpent’s Eye
  • 02. Dea Artio
  • 03. Vastness and Sorrow
  • 04. The Old Ones Are with Us
  • 05. Prayer of Transformation
  • 06. I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots

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