Wolves In the Throne Room (Supersonic Festival), The Custard Factory, Birmingham; October 22nd, 2011

For what may be the last round of live shows ever in a band’s career, picking a multi-genre festival is not usually a first choice for many within the extreme metal field across a country like the British Isles. Yet for Washington’s black metal-influenced Wolves In The Throne Room, the Birmingham-based Supersonic 2011 Festival was right there in the band’s string of final UK dates.

Just an hour was given for WITTR’s set, which took place against a backdrop with pop art leaves and frolicking daschunds (courtesy of the Custard Factory’s own initiatives). Though a rather silly setting for a band that commends itself on seriousness and a shamanistic celebration of Mother Nature, such issues became irrelevant once the burning white sage, candles and fog laid the scene for WITTR’s brand of dissonant yet meditative black-infused metal.

Those familiar with the group’s material already know that Wolves In The Throne Room tend to play less than five tracks with a limited time slot. While that number is more testament to each song’s running length, it stands that they gain much more substance when played in concert. ‘Thuja Magus Imperium‘ as an opening track from new album ‘Celestial Lineage‘ is a somewhat mediocre track on CD, though when performed where frontman Nathan Weaver’s static guitar playing can be seen and his hoarse shrieks given an extra, raw dimension from a live setting; it becomes a near-mesmerizing, transfixed experience. Even fan-favourite ‘I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots‘, which runs about eighteen minutes long, is able to simply slide by without losing any ounce of its hauntingly contemplative appeal.

At the same time, this penchant for a static atmosphere – moreso here than for a number of other black metal or even post-black metal bands – leads one to wonder how much of this is due to subgenre etiquette as it is to the mixed crowd present at Supersonic. One part metalheads, another part hipsters, and another in-between, the overall audience meant that the typical ratio of fifty per cent headbanging and fifty per cent standing still was shifted more towards the latter. Not even the slightest bit of headbobbing could be seen from some of these people, despite the fact that this did little to mar the hypnotic performance from WITTR.



Photo by Robert Knowles,  © eFestivals.co.uk 2011

1 Comment

  1. Fantastic review, Ann! It seems that you enjoyed the gig. :) I was so hypnotized both times watching WITTR, I wasn’t aware there was any movement in the crowd at all until being bumped into by a crowd sway from a mosh pit. Never noticed it’s presence until that moment, otherwise, I was standing still, nodding my head in a trance. I rarely listen to them on album anymore. Their music is beautiful but, unless my room is filled with candles and sage, it pales in comparison to the atmosphere of their live performances.

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