Old, new, black, and doom. This was the wedding list of the Decibel Tour that rolled through our beloved Montreal last Sunday the 18th of February at the Corona Theatre. If there is one thing a black metal crowd is always good for, it’s filling up a room, buying their weight in merchandise, and drinking a venue dry (even with a typically lackluster crowd; figure that shit out). All of this went down and more, but keeping things on topic, here’s how the music sounded.
Cracking open the night was something doom from Denver, Colorado (surprise surprise) known as Khemmis. Typically speaking, a doom band simply crushes a room with drone and ambiance. Though Khemmis packs these things, they bring so much more to the table than your typical doom-stoner act. Groove, melody, and vibrancy are all ingredients of the same concoction for this act, all of which were served in a tall glass with not nearly enough time to drink in at this performance. The room was more than complimentary in terms of sound quality, and the song choice definitely added some inches. The introduction of their new track “Isolation” from their upcoming record (coming out on June 22nd, 2018), as well “The Bereaved” as a closer, made this set one to remember.
Following up with something new is Myrkur, the fruit of a one-woman writing spree by a lass named Amalie Bruun from Copenhagen, Denmark. Eclectic doesn’t remotely begin to describe the performance we witnessed here. It was definitely a little black while swimming with a whole lot of folk, and was definitely the product of a very interesting mind. What can be taken away is that if you want to creep yourself out in a dark room, watch Amalie twitch around a stage whilst expelling sounds you didn’t really think came from a mammal, much less from a human. If you want to see some impressive musicianship, spare an eye for the band she’s wrapped herself in, very namely her touring drummer. That and ditch the ear plugs; this is an act that takes her sound rather seriously.
Something black came chiming in from Olympia, WA in the form of Wolves in the Throne Room. Black metal in its essence is consistent, ambient, unwavering, and totally not my cup of tea. Some black metal crowds will never cease to confuse me, as the most enthusiasm that could be found is the almost compliant nod with the consistent beat during what could have been mistaken for a cult ritual. There’s no disputing that an incredible amount of physical capability goes into making tunes as break neck fast as what WTTR dishes out, but what I heard out of this set is the epitome of the difficulty that I’ve always had with the genre- a lack of something to look forward to. Consistency is one thing, but a moment of testicular clamping in the form of one out-of-place moment could be traded in for an entire song in my humble and useless opinion. That said, if you want your face melted nice and slow a la Deafheaven, then Wolves in the Throne Room are most definitely for you.
This last act might be something old, but is definitely something that hasn’t lost its edge. Norway has been the home of some of the heaviest of weights in the black metal culture for as long anybody can remember, including that of Enslaved. Many impressive feats occurred during their set, but my personal favourite was the group not only enlivening a standstill crowd into a frenzy, but also summarizing a fourteen-album career with nine songs. How one goes about picking such a set is beyond me, but from the pretty-sounding swell of “Storm Son” to the raised hands of “Isa,” not a complaint could be heard. Consistent with the rest of the evening, the band’s live sound was impeccable, their performance was flawless, and their presence was that of a set of dudes who have maybe done this a few times. Much like how Khemmis brought a fresh sound to an old style, Enslaved brought a unique sound to a style they’ve been a part of for an impressive amount of time. Where black metal meets exciting and enthralling turns within a ten-minute banger is where I start to question my musical choices. I’m by no means a fan of black metal, but I can tell you that with this one performance, I’d be reluctant to miss an Enslaved set again.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson