Richmond, VA – Touring in support of their EP, Crypt Of Ancestral Knowledge, released September 29th, Olympia, Washington’s Wolves In The Throne Room (WITTR) bring Adirondack Mountains, New York’s Native American black metal band Blackbraid, Portugal’s black metal outfit Gaerea and Portland, Oregon’s dark rock band Hoaxed in support.
One of the most polarizing genres of music is black metal, where fans pass judgement on how “tr00” and “kvlt” a particular band is and have little room for anything that does not fit in their definition of black metal. I do not adhere to any specific template as to what constitutes a black, thrash, death or any other metal band. Whether I like a band or not is determined by what they play and how they play it. I found a couple of articles that express the opinion that some of the efforts by Wolves In The Throne Room are not black metal. I’m not going down that rabbit hole and not let some really scathing reviews I saw on Encyclopedia Metallum and other places color my judgement. I like what I like and there was a lot to like about this show and the bands that played.
Starting the night off ten minutes early, Hoaxed played a short set of songs from their October 2022 album Two Shadows and their self-titled EP released February 2021. The crowd liked what they heard, as they headbanged to the music.
I don’t think anyone expected Gaerea to come out and dominate the night, but that is exactly what they did. I have been to a lot of shows this year and this in my opinion was the best performance of 2023 I have witnessed. A combination of light, sound and theatrics with band members all dressed the same. In one way you could look at Gaerea as having no individual personality, I see it differently. The “lack of personality” makes them stronger, as they concentrate on being part of the band and each member truly contributes to the music as a whole. There was a lot of pit activity, which I did not expect from a black metal crowd, but the band loved it. A number of people I talked to after Gaerea‘s set told me they were blown away by their performance.
Not to be outdone, Blackbraid came out and played their asses off. For some, Blackbraid may not be their cup of tea, but I found them to be refreshing break from most of what is considered black metal. Touring in support of their second album, Blackbraid II, released July 7th, 2023, they played three songs from that album including, “The Spirit Returns”. They ended their set with two band members jumping off the stage and threw down with the crowd.
The Spirit Returns
The Wolf That Guides the Hunters Hand
Moss Covered Bones on the Altar of the Moon
A Song of Death on Winds of Dawn
Barefoot Ghost Dance on Blood Soaked Soil
Unlike Gaerea and Blackbraid, Wolves In The Throne Room (WITTR) created an atmosphere of darkness and foggy places, playing songs primarily from their August 2021 album Primordial Arcana and reached back to 2007’s Two Hunters for “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots”. What I found odd is that they did not play anything off of their EP Crypt Of Ancestral Knowledge released September 29th. Listening to them reminded me a lot of seeing Agalloch years ago at Maryland Death Fest. This is my first time seeing them live and for me there was a lot to like about WITTR. There was a lot of pit activity which I found interesting for this kind of music but everyone was having a great time.
Wolves In The Throne Room SETLIST
Spirit of Lightning
Prayer of Transformation
Vastness and Sorrow
I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots
This is a tour package that has something for everyone and I can’t recommend it enough. This is in the top 5 of the best shows I have seen this year and if you get the chance to see it, don’t miss out.
The Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge Tour runs through October 24th with the last stop in Denver, Colorado at The Oriental Theater.
Show Date: 10.12.2023