Watain Darken Gramercy Theatre, NYC 3-31-18 w/ Deströyer 666 & T.O.M.B.

Amid a national panic in the Metal underground due to the activities of Antifa, there was some doubt that the Pandemoniac Wolf March U.S. Tour would even make it to its New York City date of Saturday, March 31st, 2018. Nevertheless, despite the best efforts of the free-speech crushing hate group elsewhere, Gramercy Theatre was set to host, without fear of reprisal, Swedish Black Metal titans Watain, with support from Aussie Black-Thrash masters Deströyer 666. Support for the main acts came from Black Industrial noise merchants T.O.M.B.

An anticipated tour in and around the Metal community, beginning on February 23rd in Montreal, Quebec at Le National, the stop in New York marked the end of the ultimately triumphant string of shows. If one thing can be said of the way the U.S. Extreme Metal scene is being accosted by politically-correct vultures, it is the return of a bit of notoriety to the prospect of this true Black Metal evening, smack in the middle of posh lower Manhattan. The marquee above Gramercy Theatre displayed the unity of the New York City Metal underground, declaring in those iconic red letters that the show tonight was indeed sold out.

Starting things off in front of the already growing crowd were a three-piece from Pennsylvania, known as T.O.M.B., or Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy. A bit of a different animal than your average Black Metal band, the menacing Frontman, B. Zimimay, stood masked and imposing, pounding a single drum as he spat his malicious diatribes over an industrial backdrop of sound.

Guitars, provided by the lithe demoness Samantha Viola, were straight-ahead chords, creating an atmosphere of dystopian dread that caught up the crowd in its vortex. The third member, No-one, handled keys and the sampled bottom end. Kind of like a marriage of Beherit and Godflesh, T.O.M.B. presented a vision of grime, filth, and a future dressed in shades of death. Plying the admiring audience with some cuts from 2016’s Fury Nocturnus, including hammering opener “Spiritual Domination”  and the harrowing “Darkness,” they are a unit worth your time. Check them out when they come your way.

Deströyer 666, for a band embroiled in the crosshairs of so much irresponsible pseudo-journalism, came onto the stage exuding every bit of the bullet-belt-n-leather confidence they have always shown. And yet, their frontman KK Warslut could not have been more humble as their assault on our senses began. The band set to, playing their brand of reckless yet controlled Blackened Thrash to the diverse (that is right, diverse) audience, who embraced them to the fullest.

Supporting their new EP, Call of the Wild, the Australian veterans began with the title-track off their 2016 album Wildfire, a kinetic ball of gang vocal chaos that sent energy levels in the hall to the ceiling. For true pit-churning, no nonsense Speed Metal, a sizzling rendition of “Satan’s Hammer” brought delight to all. To spice it up, the band decided to serenade the gathered metalheads with a solid cover of “Iron Fist,” the Motörhead classic, with Pelle Forsberg of Watain stepping out to join them on guitar.

The anthemic “Hounds At Ya Back” highlighted a tight, explosive set along with the powerful “I Am The Wargod,” alongside the slower, more epic “Trialed By Fire.” Closing their set with “Lone Wolf Winter,” it was clear that Deströyer 666 was here tonight to push only one agenda – the agenda of heavy, unadulterated Metal. KK Warslut’s imposing chain microphone stand was particularly bad-ass, its simplistic form embodying the no nonsense approach these guys take to writing their triumphant anthems to Satanic self-reliance. They left amid a hail of cheers and calls for more songs, befitting their peerless performance.

Now, the entire pit area was backpatch to backpatch, tightly packed and ready for blood. Literally! Out in support of their most recently album, 2018’s Trident Wolf Eclipse, Watain is known for spilling buckets of it on crowds, and this tour appeared to be no different. Sadly, the stringent New York City public health code meant there would be no impaled pig’s heads on the stage (sorry, kids), but that did not stop a healthy spattering of pig blood across the brow of those down front, to opener “Devil’s Blood.”

Watain was at it with a damn fury, their deeply spiritual Black Metal-honed blade sharp amid the fall of red light and their usual grim stage set. New tracks like “Nuclear Alchemy” marched hand-in-hand with older gems like “Angelrape” and “Legions of the Black Light.” Erik Danielsson sounded amazing on the mic, a massive voice emanating from the slight, soft-spoken Swede.

The crowd could not have possibly ate it up more, as the exceptional “Outlaw” followed “Furor Diabolicus” mid set. By the time the band ended with stalwart anthem “Sworn to the Dark” and “On Horns Impaled,” the Gramercy Theatre faithful were sweaty, bloody, and satisfied.

In enough words, Watain and Deströyer 666 are two bands at the height of their powers, from vastly different nations but all beating inside the same blackened heart. No matter the controversy around them – or perhaps because of it – the bands exuded such energy that not one person inside the concert hall could possibly have left unscathed. Additionally, openers T.O.M.B. deserved the exposure tonight brought, their Industrial malignancy an unusual treat that got things started off right. With any luck these bands will be bleeding across the metropolitan area once again sooner than later.

Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography

Purchase Trident Wolf Eclipse:

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Purchase Call of the Wild:

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Purchase Fury Nocturnus:

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