Behemoth, At The Gates, Wolves In The Throne Room (live review)

Annexet, Stockholm, January 26th 2019

Although it was somewhat more underground, our review of Agrypnie at The Viper Room in Vienna might have started an addiction of sorts. Only a few months later, it seemed impossible not to cover this monster! A triple bill of some terrifyingly great names in current metal, the show was set to take place in a medium-large Swedish arena. Up to this point, we’d only seen two of these bands at Bloodstock and Wacken, so I wasn’t sure how an indoor rendition would compare. In truth, it was shockingly clean, compared to what we’re used to, but the music was just as filthy as expected.

Taking to the stage first, and despite a bit of drum overload in the mix, Wolves In The Throne Room laid down a solid set.  Their folky, atmospheric take on black metal translated well, helped along by middling theatrics; the ceremonial burning of white sage, raising draughts to the crowd, and a very nice choice of lighting and props. Personally, I was champing at the bit for what was to follow, and this didn’t really hit my vibe for the evening. Maybe it would be different at another show. (B)

 

The changeovers are rapid, though. Unfortunately, the turnaround on liquid refreshment is not. After a bizarrely long wait at the bar (I think we misunderstood the “queuing” system), we manage to get  dug into At The Gates a bit more up close and personal. Not too far from home, they hammer onto the stage with awesome power, and an easy swagger. Since the interactions are in Swedish, we don’t really understand most of that (“Do you love death metal” pretty much sounds the same in any tongue), but their homeland support is clearly incredibly strong. While not the most physically lively, they have an enviable presence. You’d be hard pressed to come across a better live “melo” death set at present. (A)

 

Continues below…

Image result for bloodstock festival

At last, we come to the behemoth known as… well… Behemoth. Replacing much (but not all) of their open air pyrotechnics with lazers and screens, the night is well and truly owned by the headliners. They have become masters, over the last few years, of developing their own visual idioms, and tonights display – like a technological, lovecraftian bad trip – is no exception. Far from seeing it as a watering down of past experiences, I feel more like I was spoiled only previously witnessing them in festival environments. This was yet another stellar performance from the Poles, with a superb spread of tracks, old and new. If you were one of the people watching most of this show through your mobile, you lost out in any language. (A+)

All in, this was an excellent night, tamed by the indoor environment or not. Turns out, though, much like a certain ice cream dessert, when it comes to bands like this, one slice is never enough. We’re off to see them tonight at one of our regular Scottish venues, Glasgow’s QMU. It will be interesting to see how it turns out at an even smaller venue. We’ll keep you posted on this (as well as any stalking based restraining orders). At least this time we’ll know which end to line up for a brew!


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