Review by Jason Guest; photos by Sam Knight
Openers Coltsblood’s “Unfathomable Doom from the North” is slow – really slow – and crushing – really crushing. With the combined down-tuned devastation colliding with the heft of the colossal drums and crashing cymbals and agonized vocals, Coltsblood’s set is monstrous, massive, wall-shatteringly bowel breaking and does more than well to kick the evening off in its already hellish direction. A band worth checking out, you can check them on Bandcamp here.
With the gateway to the underworld ajar, Funeral Throne tear it wide open. Vicious from start to finish, their uncompromising black/death metal is as forceful and unforgiving as their performance. Calling them to order with fist-pumping brutality, Funeral Throne summoned the crowd from their doom-induced trance with unremitting blackened blasphemy wrapped in barbed riffs, bludgeoning drums, and venomous three-man vocals. It takes a track or two but a few songs in, the band hit their stride and the slowly-growing crowd are dragged into the hellish maelstrom coming from the stage. And judging by the response at the close of their set, Funeral Throne have won a few more fans.
It’s been said that William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist was the best advertisement for Catholicism. After watching the film, countless bleating sheep high-tailed it to their nearest church and signed on the dotted line, devoting their lives and bequeathing their eternal souls to the great imaginary bearded one in the sky, some bashing on heaven’s door before Regan got a chance to clean her clammy crucifix. With a legion of Hanson fans queuing outside the venue earlier this evening patently afraid of the hordes lined up alongside them (one lady – a grown lady! – weeping over a ticketing mix up), it’s pretty fair to say that Watain are doing their bit for the church too. Indeed, their musical rituals are not for the faint of heart.
With a backdrop decorated in dead flesh and a foreboding light show, the only thing that’s missing is the stench. Last time they played here, upstairs in the Temple, the air was thick with a nostril-clogging, vomit-inducing bouquet of death. Whether or not it’s because Hanson and their timorous fans are in the building that the venue insisted they tone their stage set down, what follows is no less malevolent than what we’ve come to expect from this devilish horde. Opening with the first two tracks from The Wild Hunt (Ed: reviewed here), the Library becomes the Temple of Watain and we, their disciples, are willingly dragged into the pit of hell. The band’s grim hymns are swallowed whole by the devoted crowd.
On stage, Watain are a force of evil, their uncompromising approach to music is made flesh as they deliver track after track of malignant might, the new material – which makes up about half of the set – sitting perfectly alongside the older material. And when combined with their musicianship and the conviction that bleeds into their performance and its theatricality, a Saturday night in Birmingham is transmuted into a cathartic ceremony. Closing with the epic ‘Waters of Ain’ and Erik ceremoniously quenching the candles on the centre-stage altar, the band leave us somewhere beyond “good” and “evil”, somewhere that the Hanson fans upon whom this crowd are about to descend have no idea about.
The Wild Hunt
All That May Bleed
Sworn To The Dark
Waters Of Ain
And you can see more of Sam’s shots from the show below or by clicking here: