So it’s the final week before much-needed holiday from my work and Mosh offers me a gig right in the middle of it…how could I say “no”? Especially since it’s a band like Primordial, who I have seen before and I know that they’re good live – it’s a no brainer.
I was under the impression that the doors were open at 7 so I arrived a few minutes late thinking there won’t be any action for about another half an hour. I was certainly surprised. The venue was absolutely jam-packed, with fans almost spilling outside the venue! Obviously I missed the memo about the doors being open earlier and as such I missed almost all of the opening band, Malthusian, which is why they’re not featured in this review – sorry guys!
So it wasn’t long until Winterfylleth hit the stage. I had heard a lot about this band, especially since their latest effort The Divination of Antiquity had been receiving rave reviews in the metal press throughout 2014, and was hitting a lot of people’s top 10 lists.
I could see and hear why.
They opened their set with their latest album’s title track and blew me away. This is proper old-skool Norwegian-style black metal in the vein of classic Immortal and Emperor, yet with their own more melodic elements in places and haunting use of Gregorian chant-like clean vocals executed live sounding just like a record released in the early 90s. It was atmospheric and eerie yet epic but not over the top. The guitars had that classic cold high-end sound and the bass was subtly in the background, yet still audible. The vocals from both frontman/guitarist Chris Naughton and bassist Nick Wallwork provided scathing, high shrieks reminiscent of Ihsahn’s performance on Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse. Everything bathed in a lush combination of delay and reverb, really captured the sonic essence of the black metal sound – as if the band were performing live atop the highest points within the Peak District.
It’s hard to describe everything about Winterfylleth’s performance but all I can say is that I was captivated, almost entranced in their atmospheric glorious black metal sound. It was almost difficult to believe that the band are just like a bunch of average blokes you might see down the pub when they spoke between songs – with music like this one usually expects an air of mystery or danger like with the bands one usually thinks of when black metal comes to mind. However since the gig, I can’t think of Winterfylleth any other way – it’s black metal, epic but it’s honest and proud, and I think that’s one reason I really like it besides the music simply being great. Through songs like “The Swart Raven” (from 2012’s The Threnody of Triumph) and “Whisper of the Elements” (which they recently made a lyric video for), Winterfylleth have proved to me that there’s still plenty of quality new extreme metal coming from the UK (along with bands like Cnoc An Tursa) that I should be discovering as opposed to sticking with the legends of old all the time. They’ve definitely earned a new fan. I’ll be buying their records (including their debut The Ghost of Heritage and it’s follow-up The Mercian Sphere in addition to the two aforementioned releases) and maybe even reviewing them, and I’ll definitely try and catch them the next time they’re north of the border – hopefully we might be able to get an interview out of them here at Moshville too!
Go and check out Winterfylleth. Buy the albums and go to the gigs. I honestly think they’re one of the best new-ish extreme metal bands around right now, especially from the UK. If you like old-skool black metal, but drenched in atmosphere and with melodic twists here and there, you’ll love Winterfylleth.
Next up was headliners Primordial. The crowd were clearly in much anticipation for the band. Remember how I said about the venue literally being jam-packed with crowd members literally hanging outside the venue entrance? More audience members had turned up and you literally couldn’t move. I’ve never seen a venue more packed. Anticipation was high for Primordial, especially since they haven’t been to Scotland in more than 10 years.
The stage was enveloped in smoke and the band came on stage one by one before frontman AA Nemtheanga burst out into the title track from their latest album Where Greater Men Have Fallen. Unfortunately the set was marred problems with Nemtheanga’s wireless microphone but the crowd didn’t care, and it certainly wasn’t detrimental to the band’s performance in the slightest. Primordial’s set mostly showcased songs from their latest few albums including Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, To the Nameless Dead, and The Gathering Wilderness with songs such as “Babel’s Tower (which they recently made a video for) “Autumn’s Ablaze”, “As Rome Burns”, “Ghosts of the Charnel House” and “The Alchemist’s Head”. The atmospheric and haunting yet heavy songs were captured live perfectly, again with perfect sound like with Winterfylleth, and the crowded room were loving every minute of it. The entirety of the first few rows were headbanging hard in unison throughout some songs whereas others were singing along with raised fists in the air.
Nemtheanga proved to be a formidable frontman with complete command over the stage and a constant interaction with the audience, be it talking between songs or leering over the crowd with one foot firmly on the barrier while screaming into the microphone face to face with a front row rager, or staring with wide evil cat’s eyes over those at the back and sides of the room. In comparison with their brilliant set at Bloodstock last year, Primordial are definitely better suited to a more intimate venue where the crowd rocks hard to their unique sound, and the band rock harder under the leadership of Nemtheanga.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the end of Primordial’s performance as I had to contend with certain public transport arrangements to get home, however I stayed until about halfway through crowd favourite “The Coffin Ships” before departing. I think I can definitely say now after many listens to the material and two live performances that Primordial aren’t really my cup of tea. Their music is one of a kind in my opinion but it just isn’t quite my taste. However, let my opinions be of no negative reflection on the band. They are a force to be reckoned with in the live environment and really enjoyable to watch at a gig. Seriously, they rock live. They might not be my taste musically but given the opportunity, I’ll always go and see them live as their gigs are brilliant. If you’re not a Primordial fan, check them out and go to a gig. It’s definitely worth it.