It was a cold, rainy evening last Sunday in Motor City, but that didn’t damper the spirits of those attending the metal show happening at The Sanctuary. Residing in the humble hamlet of Hamtramck, next to Detroit, this music venue is the pulse of the heavy scene for the whole city. Many gathered in the quaint sized concert hall because the Doom Metal masters, Swallow the Sun were in town. This legendary act of doom ‘n gloom is on the road promoting their new album Moonflowers (Century Media Records). Plus, they brought along Abigail Williams and Wilderun as their supporting acts, making it a night filled with decadent heaviness.
The evening kicked off with the small, yet substantial crowd giving nods of approval to the local opening act, Mammon. Their cold, blackened sound of severity added an element of bleakness to the evening. The room began to fill and more clustered towards the front of the stage when the east coast act Wilderun started their set. These young bucks came hungry and ready to feed off their fans. The influences of Progressive, Folk, and Symphonic Metal distinctly rang out through their uncommon sound, making it hard to pin them into any one category. Their refreshingly unique voice was enticing and perked up everyone’s ears. The intricate skill of Daniel Müller on the bass and the articulated, yet frantic drum work of Daniel Teachey gave each number a satisfying fullness. Frontman Evan Berry’s soft eyes held the audience in a steady gaze as he projected a voice full of vibrato and sustenance. His range set the listeners on a guided path of passion with Berry confidently leading the way. At times he was a troubadour sharing stories and life lessons at a local pub. Or he was growling with a devilish depth that most Death Metallers would dream to capture. Their number, ‘The Tyranny of Imagination’ had hints of Opeth in it with the tempo changes, drum fills, and guitar melodies. Their epic scale of symphonic sound and technical abilities was paired with a thoughtful sensitivity. They had an earthy, heartening, and vibrant capability that gave off a buoyant disposition.
Named after a notable lass during the Salem witch trials, Abigail Williams was up next. The seasoned Black Metal band from various spots around the US, immediately immersed the attendees in a midnight of mournful misery. Shrouded in mist, the band carried morose-like mystery as the lights dimmed and the darkness enveloped each member. Frontman Ken Sorceron ruffled feathers with his scorching screeches that seared and seethed with a wistful, yet intense despair. Their stoic steadfastness contributed to their powerful proficiency. The atmospheric moments created a profound contemplativeness that allowed a mood of foreboding to seep through. Their aggressive, thick riffs resonated with their mesmerized crowd. Sorceron splashed the songs with yells and yips that gave a powerfully primitive potency. The savage moments gave way into tracks with sullen strings which created a hauntedly funeral-like feeling. The dueling guitars thrilled by piercing the senses with articulated dexterity and finesse. The ambient and eerie vibes from their songs like ‘Black Waves’ and ‘The Final Failure’ proved their relevance in the Modern Black Metal scene. They were a fitting choice to open for the Doom Metal legends, Swallow the Sun.
The headliners swept onto stage opening with their new delightfully doleful number, ‘Moonflowers Bloom in Misery’. There was a quiet frenzy settling down in the crowded room as the band precisely played numbers from the recent record. The room gurgled with excitement as the group serenaded with fan favorites like ‘Enemy’ and ‘This House Has No Home’. With the lights dim and extra fog pouring out of the machine, the audience became enraptured as the band’s despondency and despair blossomed. Founder and songwriter Juha Raivio led the Finnish outfit with an earnest fervor and strength, making his guitar sing with sincere melodies of sorrow. Since the band is promoting the release of their new record, they played a lot of newer material. Yet they dug into their discography and pulled out a couple tracks from their album New Moon (Spinefarm Records) including ‘Falling World’ and the title track. The heavy weight of heartache, depth, and torment was felt by each attendee as frontman Mikko Kotamaki sang about loss and life. His cleans penetrated with a tactful keenness and his growls rumbled like the beginning of a thunderstorm. The bittersweet tone in the guitars and the melancholy in the synths put a chill in the air as this band from the North shared their sound. The windmill headbanging of the group swung the listeners into a gothic dream. They set a tone of seductive sadness while offering a sort of glum grace and stout charm. The thirteen numbers they played didn’t feel like enough and left the crowd wanting more. As they left the stage and the fog began to clear, everyone seemed to begin to wake. Their shouts of adoration and claps of gratitude proved how heavy and moving the show was.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RAGIN ROSIE