Saturday night, Wolves in the Throne Room made their long awaited return to Chicago to headline their biggest show in the city yet at the Metro. They were joined by three other bands for a great night of metal. They all pretty much played in the dark, which made the photography more than challenging, and often a losing battle, but the show as a whole was quite enjoyable.
First up was Hoaxed. This is an all female three-piece from Portland. They played mid-tempo, dark metal laced rock. They were way more melodic and accessible than you’d have expected for a show like this and were the odd-duck standout, but some of their songs were good, but sadly they were probably lost on the more closed minded segment of the audience who just wanted loud, fast, aggressive music. They only played for about 20 minutes, so it was a short set.
Gaerea played next. Hailing from Portugal, these guys all wore masks and similar outfits. It was hard to make out the details of the masks in such low light but they all seemed to have symbols on them as the faces. They played a more traditional style of black metal with all the accoutrements. Some interesting tempo changes kept things interesting, but overall they were super speedy, had great growling vocals, and lightning fast drumming. You could go either way on the masks being cool and adding to their mystique, or them being a little comical and over the top, but the band was pretty excellent and worth your time to check out. They played a solid 45 minutes.
Blackbraid soon followed. These New York fellows came decked out in spikes and face paint and proceeded to shred and pound on their instruments at the speed of light. Super fast and super aggressive black metal. They never dialed back the intensity for their entire 45 minute set, and the tempo rarely changed either. From what you could make out of the shadowy shapes, they looked ominous in their outfits, which matched the intimidating nature of their music. Good stuff!
Wolves in the Throne Room had a pretty sweet looking stage setup with skulls on the microphone stands, and all kinds of cool banners and LED candle clusters around the stage. They had an ample amount of fog filling the stage too for an extra spooky ambience. They played under very low backlights, so much so that each guitar player had a little LED light on their guitar necks so they could see what they are doing.
The band has evolved a bit in recent times and now all three guitar players share vocal duties, and they somehow all have very similar sounding vocals so the switching of singers during various parts of the songs was quite seamless and felt natural. They opened with “Mountain Magick”, which was the lead track on their most recent album, Primordial Arcana. The band has always stood out from the crop of black metal bands in the way they are more organic and atmoshperic. The band was in top form and delivered one great, and incredibly long and complex, song after another.
The band spent no time talking between songs, they just silently and deliberately fired off one great song after the next, and it was easy to get lost in the whole production of the visuals and amazing music. They focused most of the set on material from the most recent album, but they ended the set with an amazing rendition of “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots” which was an incredible way to end the show.