Behemoth + At The Gates + Wolves In The Throne Room
@ QMU, Glasgow
Another sell-out show in Glasgow and the last night of the tour no less. The venue of choice was the Queen Margaret’s Union (QMU) and it has been over four years since I had last been here. Couldn’t even remember where it was but I did remember one thing…the bloody queuing. Why oh why must they parade us in the middle of winter for so long needlessly?. There’s no other place like it. Once you’re in the doors though it’s a fine place to be and tonight we had something special waiting for us.
Behemoth were back in town a few years after their last Glasgow gig which was at the ABC, a venue that has since been gutted by fire and condemned to demolition. There was going to be a completely different kind of demolition tonight at the QMU. They were bringing with them a band that I have been wanting to see for a long time in At The Gates and a band that I had already seen and rather enjoyed in Wolves In The Throne Room. An interesting mix of bands that had been laying waste to North America and Europe and we were the last stop on the road.
I could hear accents from all over whilst I was still waiting to get in. Annoyingly, I could also hear the first band Wolves In The Throne Room starting their set whilst I was still firmly at the arse end of a slow moving queue. Once I was in there was no chance of getting anywhere near a good position so it was a segregation to the side lands for me as the band were smashing on. They only got half an hour and a third of that had me and many others queuing to get in. The music was rather smashing though as the five piece were hammering lined up on the stage bathed in green light.
There was a stink of incense in the air as the ritual was in full swing; going into hyper drive. The standout feature was the tremendous blasts from the drummer Aaron Weaver. They were playing the first three songs of ‘Thrice Woven’ in reverse and it seemed to feel right on the night. Each one nears the ten minute mark and goes through many shift both in style and tempo but in a very finely tuned manner. It was Nathan Weaver sharing the lion share of the vocals but guitarist Kody Keyworth would also fill in matching Nathan’s wild rasp.
They ended the set with ‘Born From The Serpent’s Eye’ -the opener to their latest release- and the dark melody crept forth as the band were covered in red lighting. The keyboards heightened the pitch and galvanised the atmospheric melodies which would break and shift with ever growing force. There was a mighty riff that broke out as the song and the set was coming to a close. The crowd were well and truly primed as the band finished up and walked off. It was time for a change of tact on the night and a legendary Swedish death metal band were ready to take charge.
At The Gates hadn’t been to Scotland for a few years and they were going to waste no time in making up for it; neither would the crowd. They kicked off with the title track of their latest album ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’ and instantly we had a pit. I got right in the middle during the break so was right in front of the mad fiends going at each other. The first of many crowd surfers was hoisted above and pushed to the front for security to deal with and their night had just begun. ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ came next with many members of the crowd combining with vocalist Tomas Lindberg shouting “go” before the chaos erupted and the bodies in the crowd collided.
It was a spectacle from so many angles and by the time that ‘A Stare Bound In Stone’ started, the groove was too much to ignore and I had to join in with the pitters. The sound was pretty top notch which was serving the band well until it all cut off about 30 seconds into the next track ‘Cold’. The pit had resumed and the lights were going but the sound then died and confusion swept through the building, the band included with band members looking at each other and shrugging their shoulders before walking off stage. Was this the end so soon? Nah, about fifteen minutes later things were sorted and they went back to ‘Cold’ and played it from the beginning.
Normal service had resumed in terms of pits and crowd surfers but the style shifted musically as we were getting more of that Gothenberg melodic style but done right with a heavy OSDM influence. It was darker and still heavy as hell with the crowd separating for a wall of death during ‘Death And The Labyrinth’ but they couldn’t wait for the moment and it just dissolved into some disordered melee. They got it right on the next track though as the small space of separation afforded was caved in upon from all sides as At The Gates continued to slay away.
Tomas talked about this being the end of the road and thanked all of the crew members from all of the bands for their efforts after so many miles playing to so many people. There was still more to come from the band as they were going to mix some of the more recent stuff with a couple of tracks off ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’. It all flowed well and by the last track ‘The Night Eternal’ we were beyond primed for the main event; some of the crowd must have been beyond exhausted. Despite the unwelcome intermission, At The Gates were able to do their full set and walked off triumphantly. That was a set to remember. Hopefully they’ll be back again soon and without the technical difficulties.
The curtain was drawn as the stage was getting set for the might Behemoth [4.5/5] to come on. The place had been full from the start but people seemed to be crowding in as close as they could get. It was a conjoined mess of metalheads that congregated in the hall now. The child choir rang out “Living God! I shall not forgive! Jesus Christ! I forgive Thee not!” for an extended period as the excitement built. We reached fever pitch as an image of the UK with an inverted cross within it was projected onto the curtain and then the curtain dropped…
Pyrotechnics flared as the music blasted as ‘Solve’ brought some of their latest stuff for a trial by fire in Glasgow. The band were wearing the black skull masks and looking as beastly and intimidating as ever. They dropped the masks for the second track – and staying within “I Loved You At Your Darkest”- as the ‘Wolves Ov Siberia’ blared through and the pit was becoming bigger and bigger as many people were felled only to be picked back upband thrown back into the mix.
Nergal left the stage and came back on wearing his devilish mitre and I think we all knew we were going to visit ‘The Satanist’ for this one. One of my picks of the show too in ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’. Just so heavy when it kicks in. There was an abundance of never ending crowd surfers and I spotted the look of exasperation on the faces pf the security as they took another one over the barrier. It seemed that everyone involved were inspired this evening as Nergal thanked us for the sell-out show. Whilst they resumed playing, Nergal passed his guitar off to one of the hands off stage and went into the crowd at the front. People’s hands were reaching out to him, trying to feel the flesh of their hero in a truly poignant moment.
The songs kept coming and there was a mix of some older tracks with some of their newer armaments. It was pretty much all killer and no filler as Inferno blasted away, Orion wind milled all over the stage and Seth put out some well measured lead as did Nergal at points. The band were so tight and proficient and the production all round was phenomenal. As the riff came in for ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ it felt like it had become its own dark ritual. The pit tried to open again but we lacked discipline and the wall of death was not to be.
The band walked off after ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ for the encore that wasn’t to be. They came back on and fired into the supremely heavy ‘Lucifer’ and Orion had gotten all dressed up especially for this occasion only for the sound to cut out, once again, mid-song and groans from the audience were made from all corners of the venue. It looked like they tried to get things back up and running but, alas, Behemoth bowed out and that was it. A sour note to end the tour on but Nergal promised to be back so we’ll hold him to it. Overall it was still an exceptional night which will go down in the ages but we could still feel a bit aggrieved about the sound failing not once but twice on the night. Sour note indeed but next time let’s hope there’s less queues, a bigger venue and some more seismic metal.