June 19, 2014 Watain bring rare ritualistic performance to New York 6-15-14
After the rituals and ceremonies that occurred on Sunday June 15th, 2014, Brooklyn Night Bazaar in New York City will never be the same. Less than a month ago Sweden’s Watain announced the venue would be hosting their only US appearance of the summer. NYC’s black metal militia surged forth in full force to battle through blood, sweat, fire and stench for a chance to glimpse deeper into the abyss. Promising “the works”with a completely uncompromising performance of their infamous stage act for this rare appearance, the Brooklyn-based club was jammed packed with fans lusting for a taste of the otherworldly source from which Watain is derived. They would receive it, and much more than they could have imagined. Even New York’s Bravest, the FDNY, was in attendance to oversee the safety of pyrotechnic use. Sharing the stage with them on this eternal night was NYC’s own blackened doom quartet Kosmodemonic as well as the illusive black noise project T.O.M.B. The foundation of a bridge to the blackness beyond the borders of this degradable world had been formed. Three bands, each with their own form of artistic expression and perspectives on performance art, yet all with the same mission, were gathered here. All summoning inspiration from the same source….beyond.
The anticipation reached a breaking point once the show finally began. First up was Kosmodemonic, fresh to the stage having formed in late 2012. The band consists of David Bozzler (vocals/guitar) and David Wirchansky (drums). Their first live performance was back in mid-April, and it featured newer members Alec A. Head (guitar) and Dean Rispler (bass). With the intensity of a flamethrower burst, Kosmodemonic cast an infernal veil over the venue. “Heaved up from the sewers of Brooklyn” and screaming like a banshee, Kosmodemonic immediately began to pummel the room with a languid and heavy doom injection in the form of songs “Chapel Perilous” and “Hagridden” off their first EP Chapel Perilous which was inspired by great black metal philosophers such as Deathspell Omega and Ved Buens Ende. The combination of acidic and mucus infested vocals with heavy unpredictable time signatures made for a fat, gruesome and gnarly sound. The atmosphere hovering in the venue turned malevolent as Kosmodemonic descended to a doom crawl during “Terror of the Situation.” The fans were feeding off the wicked energy these musicians were bludgeoning them with. The barriers separating the stage from the crowd were already being tested as Kosmodemonic finished off their set with the menacing “Kali,” a preview into their first full length album.
The next abomination to possess the stage was Pennsylvania’s mysterious spellbinders T.O.M.B. (Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy). Considered a black noise project, T.O.M.B. far exceeds the parameters of a typical band and is more of a ready-made dark performing art. Working with field recordings from cemeteries, abandoned insane asylums, crematories, morgues and other rotting places of a hollow and torturous past, T.O.M.B. brings something unique and terrifying to the stage. Fans watched in fascination as the autonomous and gloomy harvesters of sound began to mesmerize them with non-conventional metal instruments, conducting a series of spells and rituals such as “Jaw Bones”, “Birth”, “Ram Horn” and “Summoning.”
T.O.M.B. continued entrancing and terrifying the audience, with the smoke from incense rising up through a pile of various skulls surrounded by a wall of disorienting rabid sounds. The bloodletting rituals had begun. Incinerating their set, T.O.M.B. cast the last spell “Ram Skull Sacrifice.” Many unconventional items were used to create sound during the show such as the amplifying scraping of horns, jawbones, and a handheld scythe across a tombstone to create disorienting and haunting sounds. This unique approach to metallurgy is an unusual and rare subgenre of black metal and made for a very interesting experience, to say the least.
The last misanthropic beast to defile the stage was one of the biggest names in all of black metal, tyrants Watain. They had traveled all the way from Scandinavia to play one unbridled show in Brooklyn on a mission to liberate the untamed fire that exists within us all. Formed in 1998 Watain was the spearhead of the second scourge of black metal and sought to purify the genre back to the essence of its purist form. Conjured by front man and visionary Erik Danielsson (vocals/session bass), Håkan Jonsson (drums) and Pelle Forsberg (guitar), Watain has persisted as a dominant demonic force in black metal over the last decade plus. They have released five blistering full-length albums, the most recent being The Wild Hunt (2013), which reached the number one spot on the Swedish billboards. After completing The Wild Hunt North American tour in the fall of 2013, Watain saw fit to treat their followers across the sea to this unprecedented performance.
The unforgettable appearance began with the igniting of multiple crux tridents as fans roared with fury and excitement. After a short intro and torch-based ritualistic offerings, Watain began the night with the track “De Profundis.” The collective weight of die-hard fans clawing and howling towards the stage caused the barriers to give way. Over a dozen security guards and venue employees had to reinforce them with their own bodies to prevent a disaster. The entire venue was going insane singing every word at the top of their lungs.
While six of the ten songs in the set were from their new album, three songs were from Lawless Darkness (2010), arguably one of black metals most prized possessions of the last decade. While performing “Outlaw,” Danielsson left the stage and later emerged, holding a human skull with goat horns attached filled with pigs blood high above his head chanting and kneeling before an altar comprised of various bones, wolf skulls, and a full human skeleton attached to a goat’s head. He then proceeded to the front of the stage and emptied its contents amongst hissing fans. The energy within the venue at that point was almost unbearable, ferociously primordial and potent. Vile incense was flushed through fog machines to the point of literally zero visibility, adding to the chaos of this wondrous affair. If fans had thought by now the blood rituals were through they were in for a rancid surprise. It was during the execution of “All That May Bleed” that the blood flowed like a scene from The Shining (1980). Throughout the entirety of this song Watain ordered employees of the band to unleash vast amounts of putrid pigs blood, soaking scores of ravenous fans. The entire venue was slick with blood and sweating profusely as Watain annihilated the crowd during the final two songs of their set. “Stellarvore” and “Holocaust Dawn” put an end to the ceremony, but fans still wanted more clapping and cheering as the band exited the stage during an ominous outro.
This rare and exclusive black metal event was one for the ages. Many prominent metal musicians were in attendance to bear witness to this beautiful monstrosity. The feeling invoked by the end of the show can be summed up by the words of lead singer Eric Danielsson, featured in the opening scene of Watain’s only DVD release Opus Diaboli (2012). “There is a great abyss between this world and that place, an abyss which very few are ever able to cross, but by means of magic and communication with the divine, there are ways to penetrate to that vast darkness, to that which lies beyond.”
Catch Watain on tour in Europe on the following dates:
Jun 20 SITE DU HELLFEST Clisson, France
Jun 27 Grasspop Metal Meeting Dessel, Belgium
Jul 26 Carpathian Alliance Metal Festival Volosyanka, Ukraine
Aug 01 Resurrection Fest Viveiro, Spain
Aug 07 Party San Open Air Schlotheim, Germany
Aug 08 Getaway Rock Festival Gavle, Sweden
Aug 16 SUMMERBREEZE OPEN AIR De Dinkelsbuhl, Germany
Sep 05 Meh Suff! Metal-Festival Hüttikerberg, Switzerland
Sep 06 Fall of Summer Festival Torcy, France
Cannot get enough Watain? Read an in-depth interview with Erik Danielsson here.