Watain @ The Knitting Factory (10/8/2008)

Logo - Watain

Artist: Watain
Venue: Knitting Factory (New York, NY)
Opener: Withered, Book Of Black Earth, Krallice
Date: 10/8/2008
Label: Candlelight Records

Even though we had just made our way past the first week of October, I had to admit that the night air was not as cool as it could have been for this time of the year but when I walked into the Knitting Factory venue, the cold grasp of the abyss could be felt based on the incredibly dark power of the touring package that was being hosted tonight. Tonight was the night that the Black Metal band Watain was returning to the states and joining them on this tour was Book Of Black Earth, Withered and Krallice. The band had performed at B.B. King Blues Club the last time around but a prior commitment kept me from attending and in one sense I was thankful about that because the band went on at something like 2am based on some scheduling issue between the band and the folks who had set the gig up. While I am clearly someone who enjoys a fair amount of what is considered the “popular” Black Metal, I had only heard stories about what I would find happening on the stage tonight and part of those tales had me really walking into the place on edge. I knew more about openers Withered and Book Of Black Earth as I had lightly touched upon their most recent CD releases and since Krallice was also going to be a surprise for me I was ready for tonight to be a show unlike many of the others I had seen before.

Krallice: As mentioned, I had never heard of these guys before tonight but the levels of Atmospheric Black Metal that they put forth from the moment that they hit the stage made them something that I was very interested in hering more about going forward. There are four guys in Krallice and they hail from New York which was a pleasant find for me since the Big Apple is not particularly known for its Black Metal bands and this gives us a chance to show the world what we are made of. The crowd was unfortunately thin for the bands set and it seemed as though many who were interested solely in Watain were not even in the venue yet. Oh well, their loss and our gain because everyone who arrived from the doors opening got their money’s worth without question. They have a self-titled CD available which I made sure to get a copy of and the band is comprised of Mick Barr, Colin Marston, Lev Weinstein and Nick McMaster. Someone commented to me as the band finished how a number of the people enjoying them appeared to be “Hipster” and while they viewed this as a detriment, I felt that it would make that type of persona a lot easier to deal with. It’s good to see Metal fans expanding across a number of “expected” demographic types. Book Of Black Earth was next.

Book Of Black Earth: A Prosthetic Records artist whose CD I “Horoskopus” I had pretty much just received was another great surprise in the live sense. There was a lot of Black Sabbath Doom style riffing going on but while there was a super Sludge Groove for much of their set there was also some great thrashing every now and again which made their set rather interesting. My guess was that a lot of what was being played was from this most recent album and it was definitely setting up the mood for the room tonight. I like when an opener shows that they are going over well, and while I still felt that the crowd could have been better for this bands set as well there seemed to be more filtering in as they progressed through skull crushing number after number. I have to spend a little more time on their CD when I next get the chance because I really liked everything that I heard them doing tonight. Withered was coming up next.

Withered: Another Prothetic Records band that is blending the crushing waves of Doom Metal with Thrashing Black Metal for a mixture in sound that had them going over like gangbusters for the now fully packed Knitting Factory. Yes there were some musical similarities to the guys in Book Of Black Earth who just preceded them but the upside of this was that the billing was keeping an even balance to the bands and all of them made sense together. You didn’t find a Metalcore band coming on before a Dark Metal act or an Emo thing and while some could have found any consistency on the boring side I had to admit this was keeping me rooted to my spot near the side bar. The bands latest release is entitled “Folie Circulaire” and its their second full length release, but the first on Prosthetic Records. It really sounded great live and was another album that I vowed to spend a little more time with once the shows had passed me by. Now it was time for Watain to take the stage in the Big Apple once again and you couldn’t move comfortably no matter where you were standing. It was so crowded and tightly packed that I had wondered why a larger space had not been secured, but that didn’t matter now as the lights went down one more time and true evil appeared before our very eyes.

Watain: Yes I am aware that my lead to this part of the narrative has a bit of a dramatic flair but for those Black Metal fans who have awareness about the band it makes perfect sense and for those who don’t, well it is information that should wisely be learned from. The band Watain is well known for being one of the more over the top visually in terms of their live presentation and depending on what they can get away with is what you will find out about on your arrival to the show. Clearly this is not for everyone and there had been reports about shows that involved skulls, real blood and fetid meat scattered around the stage which gives the stench of death to the very room. Scary stuff that is complimented by the band’s horrific visage and the other dramatic accoutrements like candles and chains and just utter despair at every corner. The set was taking quite a bit of time to get set up and this was getting the very hot room a little agitated. The preceding three openers had come and went on the quick but the set change time between Withered and Watain was hitting well past the thirty minute mark if my watch was correct.

When the band finally did hit the stage it was an aural and visual assault that made me now fear for my life based on where I was standing. The fans down up in front were the more ravenous kind and in the total command of the words coming out of singer Erik Danielson’s mouth. I had mentioned my being very new to the band but I was aware that this night’s grim proceedings were the continuation of the “Fuck The World” tour which was supporting their latest release “Sworn To The Dark”. This was an insane dose of the pure Black Metal evil that you always read about and I had to say that the people near me were almost as intense as the band. There was only a limited amount of crowd banter that I was paying mind to and the band seemed intent on delivering its very sinister message to its followers this evening and that did not require much in the talking side as much as it required that they crush our skulls with Black Metal might. The combination of the heat in the room from all the participants and the rabid level of play being done on the stage made this a show that no one in attendance would soon forget. There was no blood or any rotting meat tonight it would seem, and I was actually thankful for that since I had to take pictures from various close quarters and at times feared for my life in the mix of the stuff that was going on.

In the end I had to say that the whole show was an incredible experience and that more people should have made their way in earlier to enjoy the whole thing. Every band starts somewhere and it’s really cool to remember seeing someone when they were new to the mix. I sense bigger things for all three of the openers to be brutally honest. Watain delivered a show unlike any I had ever seen before for this genre of Metal and they would have it no other way I am sure. There are many bands that are a clear “act” when they do their thing but something was convincing me that the guys in Watain were a lot more serious about what they do than these types of groups. If you feel that you can handle it, I recommend this live show to any of you who are not afraid of some of the referenced probabilities because you cannot say that we didn’t warn you.

Watain Setlist:
1. Legions Of The Black Light
2. Devil’s Blood
3. Satan’s Hunger
4. Sworn To The Dark
5. I Am The Earth
6. Stellarvore
7. Serpent’s Chalice
8. On Horns Impaled

Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/watainofficial
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/bookofblackearth
Official Website: http://www.withered.net
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/krallice

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