Mesmerized, shocked, and awed – this is how I felt leaving the MTelus after the experience I had at the Behemoth show. I’m just going to say this off the bat: every musician was tight, the sound quality was stellar, and there were literally no negatives, so I’ll be focusing on the actual experience rather than technique.
I decided to enter the venue five minutes before the show began. Before the event commenced, I noticed Wolves In the Throne Room’s gear. Nathan Weaver (guitarist/singer) and Kody Keyworth (guitarist) were using classic Marshall tube amps, which is perfect for their raw style of music. The mic stand was also adorned with a bronze occult symbol that added to their black metal vibe.
The show started with an atmospheric intro with a female middle eastern chant in the background as each member of Wolves in the Throne Room entered the stage one by one. WITTR is a trio and I recognized the other member, Aaron Weaver (drummer), but I didn’t recognize the bassist or the keyboardist who were session musicians. WITTR seem pretty secretive. All they said was “Thank you” in between songs, with no song titles mentioned. However, the stage lights were changing to different colors for each song to match the mood, so I’ll refer to the songs by color. They started with “red,” a blasting post-black-metal song that made me feel like I was running through a frostbitten forest. Next was “green,” a depressing song with a clean intro followed by blazing tremolo picking guitars that gave me a feeling of transcendence. The vocals shrieked in utter despair. Then came “gold,” with a stormy introduction that turned into an aggressive, grinding song where the “gold” started mixing with “red” as the vocalist produced his most vicious articulations of the set. Lastly, “deep blue” was performed, which was a lot more atmospheric with trance-like states, ringing chords, a lot of bending notes, and certain members of the band blowing incense ritualistically. It was a fantastic way to pave the road for what was to come.
Next up were legends, pioneers, and titans of the Gothenburg melo-death scene, At The Gates, and guitar-wise everything switched to digital. They used to be my favourite band growing up, so I was critical because of their new line up. To my surprise, this is the best version of ATG I have seen yet. My jaw dropped. Tomas Lindberg (vocalist) is one of the most animated front men on the planet. He was running around interacting with both fans and the band itself. He was an enchanter; when he commanded the crowd, there was 100 percent participation. At times, he would run out of breath at the end of certain verses, but his animation made up for it. What struck me the hardest was the song “Cold.” This is the standard I use to see ATG’s level of professionalism. The solo in “Cold” was written by Andy LaRocque and it’s very difficult. Anders Björler (former guitarist/founding member) had a hard time playing the solo, however the new guitarist (Jonas Stålhammar) nailed it! They focused on their newer era such a “Death and the Labyrinth” and “To Drink From The Night Itself.” They nailed “Suicide Nation” with Tomas giving the crowd every second “Suicide!” lyric to sing. They ended with their biggest hit, “Blinded By Fear.” It was the best performance I have seen from Tomas, Jonas, Adrian Erlandsson (drummer), Martin Larsson (guitarist), and Jonas Björler (bassist) so far!
Last came the biggest band in the extreme metal scene, Behemoth. With anticipation rising, the stage turned black, and you could hear the isolated track of the children’s choir singing the verse from “God = Dog”, however the lights came on, the band appeared, and they started playing “Wolves Ov Siberia.” They were all hooded like executioners for this song. With their beautiful bronze “Satanist” insignia on every mic stand, two inverted neon red tri-crosses with Inferno (drummer) all the way at the top of a giant platform looking mountainesque, this was a sight to behold. They followed with “Daimonos” and “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,” with everyone un-hooded except Nergal (singer/guitarist). They followed by playing “Bartzabel” where Nergal donned the headgear from the music video. Orion (bassist/backing vocals) had a lot more presence vocally than ever before, providing all the gutterals and cleans along with Seth (their live guitarist) while Nergal did the mids and crowd interaction. The “Bartzabel” headgear off, they chose a perfect setlist to fit the tour. Some highlights that followed where“Ov Fire And The Void” which featured the biggest fog cannons I have ever witnessed. Nergal then asked the crowd, “Can a god live in a dog?!” which was followed by a complete frenzy during the song “God= Dog.” They played classics like “Decade Ov Therion” and “Slaves Shall Serve,” ending with their signature “Chant For Eschaton 2000” where Nergal started saying farewell and that they’d be back. The huge fog machines blasted, and when the fog cleared, the band had disappeared.
They encored with “Lucifer” before the stage went pitch black again with an instrumental playing in the darkness. Was the band playing in the dark? NO! They all suddenly appeared center-front stage with war drums, playing what they call “We Are The Next 1000 Years.” Behemoth didn’t pull off a set. They pulled off a black mass using eastern orthodox imagery and made it their own, where they were the gods and the fans were worshiping their idols.
It was one of the best shows of my life. Period.
Written by Peter Lountzis
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson