Gig Review: Wolves In The Throne Room @ The Corner Hotel, Melbourne - 30/11/19

Headliner: Wolves In The Throne Room

Support: Suldusk + Sundr + King

Venue: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Date: Saturday, November 30th 2019

Review by Timothy 'Mothlord' Richmond

Photos taken by Hayley Scott

It has been around a year since Wolves in the Throne Room were initially due to tour Australia. However, due to controversy with the now defunct Life Is Noise touring company, in solidarity they opted to cancel their plans rather than support the company. Though understanding, fans were dismayed since it had been ten years prior they were last here (2008). Thankfully as well all know, it was not long till they announced that they would be returning sooner than expected.

Opening up the night is Suldusk, who play soulful blend of swooning and etheric blackened folk metal. I first saw Suldusk several years ago when they were a stripped back acoustic unit and thoroughly enjoyed their beautifully crafted pieces that transplant the listener to magical realms. Not too recently they fleshed out the lineup to become a full 6-piece band. And in doing so their music has grown in width and volume and tonight they prove they are even more adept at captivating the audience with their mystical and endearing compositions.

Next is Sundr, whose gloomy and droning post-metal is a perfect transition from Suldusks glistening heights down to drudging yet hopeful melancholia. I have seen Sundr perform many times and they have grown to become masters of control and dynamics. Luring listeners with subtle and tender timbres, to then floor the audience with emotive and crushing doom riffage. And on this night they proved that mastery, showing the audience how restraint and delayed gratification in heavy music can be used to dramatic effect.

King, are a band whose repute has quickly risen in the Australian scene. Known for having members from Blood Duster, Ruins and Psycroptic I had high expectations for them. This is especially given that they have just released their debut album, “Coldest of Cold” to great reception. Much to my satisfaction, King beat out furious and biting black metal that rides strong with venomous groove but is also confident with melody that strides into epic realms. Indicating they are well deserving of the praise they have been receiving. It is also a pleasure to see frontman Tony, previously bombastic and beer fueled grindcore band Blood Duster take on a new, commanding and icy persona with King.

With much applause after what feels like an age spent waiting, from within plumes of looming smoke, atomspheric "cascadian" black metal legends Wolves in the Throne Room finally take to the shrouded stage. Their performance feels like a descent into dew soaked and timeless woodlands that dwell within misty mountains. Between songs are interludes that further express the earthy and spiritual ethos of WITTR. Grinding stone in pestle and mortars, the crackle of a golden fire, chimes glistening in the wind and the trickling of a nearby waterfall. Even the stage lighting for the band was carefully curated as colours change to match the tone of the music, flickering just as a fire would. Ebbing and flowing carefully painting a picture and setting the mood. To my perception and recollection the band played mostly a set of songs from their recent album Thrice Woven with perhaps two songs from their earlier records. My only upset was as a long time fan I did not recognise anything from Celestial Lineage or Black Cascade my favourite albums. But, with a set totaling over an hour and when most of their songs are nearing or exceeding 10 minutes in length there is little room to fully represent their long standing discography. Black metal, especially atmospheric black metal is long known for trying to convey mysticism and celebrate nature through their music. And I believe WITTR are likely the undisputed masters of this art. Their performance is a journey, ushered with utter conviction and sincerity. Every member of the band performs to perfection and manages to convey an experience even more authentic, endearing and sonically powerful than their recorded efforts. Something that is truly remarkable in a time when we are so far removed from our primal and natural origins. It was an honor to finally be able to experience seeing the band live. I hope that the band consider returning in the very near future.

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