(Music journalist Konstantin, who in past years has written for Serbia’s Nocturne Music Magazine, and who brought us a 2-part interview earlier this week, now provides these impressions of the recent performance by Wolves In the Throne Room and Wiegedood in Bologna, Italy, as part of the bands’ Beltrane 2017 European Tour.)
It was more than six years since the last Wolves in the Throne Room concert in Italy when the band announced their long-awaited European tour. The last couple of years saw brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver focusing on things outside their music and releasing only one instrumental/ambient album, so the return to Europe was highly anticipated.
The tour quickly gained attention, resulting in several dates being sold out, as was the case with the gig in Bologna on the 4th of May. After an outstanding performance at Roadburn Festival, dates around Europe followed, so the concert in Bologna was one of the last on this tour. As was the case with previous concerts, support came from Wiegedood, a Belgian band who share members with Oathbreaker and AmenRa.
The Belgians have released two albums so far and it was my first time seeing them live. Their sound is more direct than the sound of the members’ major bands – black metal with no modern additives, less experimentation, two guitars, and no bass.
I have been familiar with both releases but wasn’t sure what to expect when they hit the stage. Luckily, it was nothing but a positive surprise. The band sounded great, technically almost without any mistakes and delivering a powerful and straight-forward performance in more than 45 minutes. The list was a mix of both releases, therefore providing a solid overview of their discography, since they are still unknown to most of the public. They have existed for only three years and haven’t yet signed with any major label, so keep your eye on them in the future.
I have been waiting to see Wolves in the Throne Room for a long time and was quite happy to hear that the concert was sold out more than three weeks before the date. On this tour Aaron was replaced by Lycus’ drummer Trevor Deschryver, while the rest of the line-up consisted of Kody Keyworth from Aldebaran and two more people whose names are not familiar to me. Three guitars and keyboards, with no bass on stage.
Their arrival on stage was followed by a shamanic ritual in which the band members set fire to aromatic woods so that first couples of rows were quickly covered in smoke. An ambient background quickly accompanied the ritual, introducing “Dea artio” and “Queen of the borrowed light” as the first songs of the set.
Instrumental ambient music from the keyboards filled all the breaks during the set, so the music was not interrupted throughout the whole performance. This first big tour after a long break affected Nathan’s voice as well, so as a consequence, one of the live guitarists was filling in for him during a couple of the songs.
The set continued with the legendary “Vastness and sorrow”. The band sounded and looked really good on stage, being quite active and energetic throughout the whole set. They easily managed to connect with people in the club, creating through that a nice atmosphere where everyone could feel as part of a ritual and performance.
A new song called “The old ones are with us” followed, and according to that we can finally expect a new WITTR record in the vein of their memorable black metal albums prior to the release of Celestite. After “Prayer of transformation” came the iconic “I will lay down my bones among the rocks and roots”, a beautiful ending to the gig with their most famous piece up to now.
I am sad that in the end they did not perform “Astral blood”, which is one my favorite songs they have released, but an hour and twenty minutes of performance was enough to be satisfied with. Although the band had several problems with sound during the concert, it didn’t affect their overall image — they did a great job. The live guitarists seemed to fit well in the image of WITTR and could be a solution for some longer period.
The concert confirmed that the band is definitely one of the best representatives of the USBM scene of the first decade of XXI c. and much closer to such acts as Agalloch or Woods of Ypres than to Krallice or Deafheaven, with whom they are compared more often. I hope that this tour showed Nathan that there is strong fan base in Europe and that we won’t wait too long for another tour or album.