March 17, 2015 1349 invade NYC w/ Origin, Abysmal Dawn, & Wolvhammer 2-23-15
A reference to the year that the Black Death hit Norway, Olso’s own 1349 has stood strong, free of trends or what others are doing in the world of Black Metal, since their formation back in 1997. Having released six studio records, including their most recent Massive Cauldron of Chaos, the band returned to North American shores in February for a rampage. As a top Black Metal import, the trek, dubbed Chaos Raids USA Tour, began February 8th with support from Origin, Abysmal Dawn, and Wolvhammer. On the tail-end of the tour, the raid came to New York City on Monday February 23rd to sweep through Gramercy Theater.
Opening the show was Wolvhammer, a five-piece Heavy Metal band out of Minnesota with a hard driving, dirty, blackened, Metal style. Together since 2008, this band consists of Joe Noel on bass, Heath Rave on drums, Adam Clemens on vocals, and Jeff Wilson alongside Micah Leonetti on guitars. Starting the night with a strong set of songs from their third full length record released in 2014, entitled Clawing Into Black Sun, “Death Division” was first. Firing up catchy riffs with powerful vocals, thereafter, “Clawing Into Black Sun” married elements of Sludge and Black Metal. Showing their diversity, other tracks such as “Slaves to the Grime” and “The Desanctification” had a heavier Doom vibe which had heads banging right from the start. Tight and strong, Wolvhammer opened a great night at the Gramercy with a killer set of Metal.
Next up was Los Angeles, California’s Abysmal Dawn. Crafting Metal since 2003, the band was making their second visit to NYC in less than four months. The Gramercy Theatre show marked the final performance on the Chaos Raids USA Tour for them before they branched off and head to Austria, Poland, and Germany to join Death and Massacre. Abysmal Dawn’s brand of Death Metal has evolved to a new level with their fourth studio album, released in 2014, entitled Obsolescence, and it was time for fans to witness it live. Bathed in blue light, guitarist Andy Nelson, vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliot, drummer Scott Fuller, and bassist Eliseo Garcia began with a huge orchestral intro before exploding into “Perfecting Slavery” and “Perpetual Dormancy.” The latter, featuring Fuller firing rapid double bass throughout, provoked a massive response from the crowd. “My Own Savior” saw Nelson and Elliott combine for blazing guitar work. Thereafter,”Rapture Renowned” flowed into “By My Demons,” a classic Heavy Metal intro ebbed as Elliott called for a circle pit, and received it, just as the band blasted into the Meat of the track. Keeping hearts pumping, “The Inevitable Return to Darkness” came before the heavy groove of set closer “In Service of Time” where Elliott called for a wall of death, and the audience obeyed. Witnessing Abysmal Dawn live is evidence that this band is quickly becoming one of Death Metal’s top touring acts to see, so do not miss them.
The time had come for direct supporting band, Origin, out of Topeka, Kansas. Origin combines speed, technical prowess, and unique song structures to craft a brand of Death Metal that has propelled them to the forefront of the genre. Their latest album, Omnipresent, even found them reaching Number 10 on the US Billboard Top New Artist Albums in 2014, even though have been together since 1997.
An interesting jump-start to their set, the band began the show with the speech, “I don’t want to be Human” from the Battlestar Galactica episode No Exit. Vocalist Jason Keyser came out praising all the bands on the tour, bidding farewell to Abysmal Dawn and wishing them luck in Europe. Representing the Death Metal half of the tour, Origin blasted through selections from their newest album including “Thrall:Fulcrum:Apex” and “The Absurdity of What I Am,” as well as “Expulsion of Fury” and “Saligia.” Going full-speed ahead, “Banishing Illusion,” from 2011’s Entity, followed with “The Aftermath” and “Finite,” off of 2008’s Antithesis, had heads banging. As Keyser encouraged the crowd to let loose, a fan got up on stage and was summarily ousted, to which Keyser responded “…on second thought, I don’t recommend stage diving at all.” Drummer John Longstreth unleashed pummeling blasts while guitarist Paul Ryan blazed through the set handling all guitarwork with extreme precision. Bassist Mike Flores struck chords, sweeps, and arpeggios like a lead guitarist, adding tremendous thickness to the band. As Keyser cued the crowd, a swirling drain appeared in front of him on the floor of Gramercy Theatre as they continued on with “Unattainable Zero,” “Manifest Desolate,” and “All Things Dead.” Closing out their set with “Disease Called Man,” from 2000 debut self-titled album Origin, Keyser, like Elliot of Abysmal Dawn, called for a wall of death, pitting Death Metal fans and Black Metal fans against each other. Keyser watched with pride as the two divisions collided in the center of the floor and Origin successfully administered a thorough sonic beating with their amazing performance.
After a thorough dose of Death Metal, the audience was ready for the Black Metal titans, 1349. Marking their return to North America for the first time since Metal Alliance Tour 2014, when they visited with Behemoth and Goatwhore, this time the band has a new album in their arsenal to offer rabid fans. Given the opportunity to see a full-length from 1349, many in the audience were amped up and ready to go, despite having their skulls respectfully rattled by the supporting acts.
Bathed in blood red light, 1349 emerged onto the stage, covered in corpse paint and with a sense of demonic theatrics in the air. Cloaked in robes, bassist Tor Risdal “Seidemann” Stavenes and guitarist Idar “Archaon” Burheim began with 2005’s “Sculptor of Flesh” as vocalist Olav “Ravn” Bergene raised his microphone between gauntlet fists and growled “Hellfire,” signalling the start of “I Am Abomination.” As a grand opening to the conjuring of dark arts, newer song “Slaves” was met by a swirling circle pit with its catchy brutality. In fact, Ravn has been quoted that the track is the best representation of Massive Cauldron of Chaos, and that certainly was evident when seen live. Beginning like a storm of flame and blood, “When I Was Flesh” featured the almighty Frost pummeling the crowd with non-stop blasting, validating his status among the elite Black Metal drummers to ever appear on a stage.
Without a dull moment passing, next was another new track titled “Postmortem.” After a somewhat subdued opening, the band accelerated through the remaining of the song as a stage diving fan returned and accomplished his goal this time around. Bringing it back to 2003’s Liberation album, 1349 went into “Riders of the Apocalypse” before returning to present day with “Exorcism” where Archaon ripped jagged guitar leads throughout. Drawing raised fists and chants from the crowd, “Nekronatalenheten”was exhilarating before the more deliberate, grounded, and heavy groove of “Serpentine Sibilance.” Continuously dressed in red light from above, the eerie illumination streamed down on the robe of Stavenes and splash from the hair of Burheim as they thrashed their heads in unison during the songs final piece.
Introducing “Atomic Chapel” with a unholy growl, Bergene’s gauntlet shrapnel glistening red. Clearly still determined to dominate this crowd, the band tore through the song with aggression as it shifted and morphed from speed to slower groove before the crushing finale. Closing with two tracks from Massive Cauldron of Chaos, the band followed Burheim and Haraldstad into “Golem” and through to “Cauldron” in which Burheim provides a razor sharp intro before the rest of the band flooded in.
On this night, 1349 delivered a bludgeoning good time to all who witnessed this stacked bill. Although the Chaos Raids USA Tour was only a little over two weeks long, it was packed with aggression, brutality, and sonic superiority. Look out for any of these bands in the future when they plan more touring, it is an experience in Extreme Metal not to be missed.