Tribulation – The Children of the Night

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Having started off like so many Swedish death metal bands by worshipping at the putrid altar of Entombed on debut album The Horror (Pulverised), Arvika upstarts Tribulation clearly weren’t content to merely rehash the work of the elders, as demonstrated by sophomore record The Formulas of Death (Invictus), a lengthy concept piece that won them many admirers despite not straying too far from established templates. All that has changed now with third effort The Children of the Night (Century Media), which save for snarled vocals and horror themed lyrics, is a classic heavy metal record, far more interested in melody and catchy songs than aggression and violence.

Aided by a lo-fi, vintage production which isn’t a million miles away from the kind of vibe Opeth have been cultivating on their past two albums, the music on The Children of the Night rarely gets above mid-paced; those who came here expecting blastbeats and tremolo picking will be sorely disappointed. Instead we get some fantastic guitar interplay between Adam Zaars and JonathanHulten that dart and weave amidst each other like a pair of bats dancing at twilight.

A lot of influence appears to have been taken from both Watain’s Lawless Darkness (Century Media), and last year’s final In Solitude record Sister (Metal Blade), especially on the vaguely groovy gothisms of ‘In the Dreams of the Dead’, while the sinister melodies and big stomping riffs of ‘Winds’ is like Iron Maiden if Steve Harris was forced to watch repeated showings of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.

There’s also a strong yet subtle Sisters of Mercy feel to the album, noticeably on the achingly hip ‘The Motherhood of God’ with its irresistibly danceable rhythms and morose, melodic verses. The songwriting throughout the record is full of surprises, from the catchy chugging riffs of opener ‘Strange Gateways Beckon’ to the mysterious doomy refrains of closing track ‘The Motherhood of God.’ One gripe is that the record is ten minutes too long and where instrumentals should be used to build atmosphere, the two tracks here go nowhere and should have been culled. That said, The Children of the Night is a brave record from an exceedingly talented set of musicians who are just that more subtle when it comes to what style of darkness works best.

8.0/10

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JAMES CONWAY

Grave Pleasures Hires Ex-In Solitude Drummer, Begin Recording New Album

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Grave Pleasures (ex-Beastmilk) have announced the addition of new drummer Uno Bruniusson (ex-In Solitude) and have inked a new recording deal with Sony Music. They will enter the studio in May to begin tracking their new album with producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Killing Joke), with a tentative September release date. Read the statement here.

We’re super happy to announce that we have been joined by Uno Bruniusson (In Solitude, Procession) on drums and we have…

Posted by Grave Pleasures on Friday, April 17, 2015

In Solitude Calls It Quits

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In Solitude has posted a statement in regards to their breakup:

“2002 – 2015
Dear friends. It is with great sadness that we inform you that we have chosen to end In Solitude here.
This is something that’s been taking shape for a long time and suddenly the day came when we had to evaluate our positions in life and find a solution.
The reasons for our departure are not hostile in any sense and our love for each other and the music is stronger than ever before. But it is with respect for that music and that love between us that we choose to end it at this point.
Changes in our personal lives demanded that we treated this as carefully as we could and with our deepest respect and reverence for all personal feelings, and for the aim of our journey.
This has been one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make and we’ve had to investigate every inch of our beings in order to make this right. In Solitude has been the center of our lives for 13 years and we’ve invested everything we have in this and to make this decision was to rip us up by ours roots and make us re-evaluate our entire lives and our future.
As the final words fell in our concluding agreement, we looked back and saw with new eyes the magnitude of our brotherhood and the things that were carried through because of it. Our trust, our love, our shared obligation. The truth of the hand and the truth of the word to disperse the bounds between us and to diverge the shore for us follow. How it gave us the width of the world and the means to share it and store it together. All that was in it and all that was taken from it. And all the things that now shall pass without our collective notice. We saw with new eyes how clarity entered in stagelight and moonlight and sunlight and darkness and landed us finally over and over in that inexplicable mystery of beauty that we’ll share as ours forever.
If there was ever an accomplishment in what we did, it was the merging of the five of us in unity and the things that came as everything grew because of it. Not a single second was spared in these 13 years, and we’ll never ask for any of them back. We spent everything in our world on this and got more than everything back.
We want to thank all our closest brothers and sisters for being there and standing by our side the whole way through. Your love, support and hard work will never be forgotten and your presence have realized this band and enriched our lives in ways you’ll never understand. You are all truly the geniuses who shall change the course of the world. You know who you are. And we’ll always admire you for that.
Last, but most importantly. We thank all of you for being there. In the crowds, in front of the stereos and in our hearts. Without you, this strange and wonderful dream would never have happened. The impact of your support can never be put in words and the outcome of our lives will always be in debt to you for what you gave us. As much as we were In Solitude, you were as well.
We know that this will come as a shocking surprise for many of you. And we hope you understand that we must follow our hearts in order to stay true to what In Solitude is and what that entails.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you forever.
/Pelle, Uno, Gotte, Nicke and Henke“

2002 – 2015Dear friends. It is with great sadness that we inform you that we have chosen to end In Solitude…

Posted by In Solitude on Friday, April 3, 2015

In Solitude Split Up

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Swedish rock artists In Solitude have confirmed they have split up.

The band, who released three critically acclaimed albums, and who spoke to Ghost Cult twice during the cycle for their Sister album (Metal Blade) have issued the following statement via their Facebook page:

Dear friends.

It is with great sadness that we inform you that we have chosen to end In Solitude here.

This is something that’s been taking shape for a long time and suddenly the day came when we had to evaluate our positions in life and find a solution.

The reasons for our departure are not hostile in any sense and our love for each other and the music is stronger than ever before. But it is with respect for that music and that love between us that we choose to end it at this point.

Changes in our personal lives demanded that we treated this as carefully as we could and with our deepest respect and reverence for all personal feelings, and for the aim of our journey.

This has been one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make and we’ve had to investigate every inch of our beings in order to make this right. In Solitude has been the center of our lives for 13 years and we’ve invested everything we have in this and to make this decision was to rip us up by ours roots and make us re-evaluate our entire lives and our future.

As the final words fell in our concluding agreement, we looked back and saw with new eyes the magnitude of our brotherhood and the things that were carried through because of it. Our trust, our love, our shared obligation. The truth of the hand and the truth of the word to disperse the bounds between us and to diverge the shore for us follow. How it gave us the width of the world and the means to share it and store it together. All that was in it and all that was taken from it. And all the things that now shall pass without our collective notice. We saw with new eyes how clarity entered in stagelight and moonlight and sunlight and darkness and landed us finally over and over in that inexplicable mystery of beauty that we’ll share as ours forever. If there was ever an accomplishment in what we did, it was the merging of the five of us in unity and the things that came as everything grew because of it. Not a single second was spared in these 13 years, and we’ll never ask for any of them back. We spent everything in our world on this and got more than everything back.

We want to thank all our closest brothers and sisters for being there and standing by our side the whole way through. Your love, support and hard work will never be forgotten and your presence have realized this band and enriched our lives in ways you’ll never understand. You are all truly the geniuses who shall change the course of the world. You know who you are. And we’ll always admire you for that.

Last, but most importantly. We thank all of you for being there. In the crowds, in front of the stereos and in our hearts. Without you, this strange and wonderful dream would never have happened. The impact of your support can never be put in words and the outcome of our lives will always be in debt to you for what you gave us. As much as we were In Solitude, you were as well.

We know that this will come as a shocking surprise for many of you. And we hope you understand that we must follow our hearts in order to stay true to what In Solitude is and what that entails.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you forever.

/Pelle, Uno, Gotte, Nicke and Henke

 

 

Esoteric Youth – Pelle Åhman of In Solitude

Ghost Cult last caught up with In Solitude at the start of the cycle for Sister (Metal Blade) when Gottfrid Åhman spoke about the musical developments and progressions that led to the critically acclaimed release. Closing up the circle, frontman Pelle Åhman opens up about introspection and the fundamental heart of the band…

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“We were surprised how people have really taken us seriously and tried to grasp what we do. You can call it maturing but it feels like coming home to our roots. It is a very primal thing.” The lanky figure of In Solitude front man Pelle Åhman is sitting next to me wearing a Darkthrone long sleeve. He looks very much like a typical early twenty-something heavy metal fan. Yet spend any time in his company and you will quickly become aware that this tall, softly spoken Swede is anything but ‘typical’. “I love Gospel and Blues music as it is very simple. People singing these repetitive lyrics and clapping their hands on songs like ‘Jesus Make My Dying Bed’. They remind me of certain mantras in eastern religions. That dark and brooding form of prayer is very inspirational. These primitive forms of music have the same appeal to me as acts like Darkthrone.”

As the scent of incense sticks and pungent aroma of hash fills the air of the venue’s backstage area, talk turns to the band’s third album Sister (Metal Blade), a record which has brought many to lavish attention on the quartet. Influenced by the blues, country and the occult rock masters, Sister is a very mature record for such a young band. Åhman mused thoughtfully on its conception: “My family have a cabin north of Uppsala where I go to relax and write. It is very isolated. You can’t get any phone signal up there. I go there for the same reason the swami sit in caves and my uncle goes to fish; for refuge from this world. People need to have those places where they have peace and forgiveness. You are truly able to start over because you cannot be bombarded with information the way you are when are in a big city. When I go up there it is like I get baptised.”

Seeking sanctuary in isolation may be nothing new but in an age where everyone is posting an update online regarding what they, eat, drink and think all in the public domain it is hard not to admire this young man’s steadfast resistance to the status quo. “You can be introspective and get a sense of how things are,” Pelle muses. “People have lost that now. Social media allows people to present a false sense of who they are. Look at the way people update their status on Facebook! They feel they need to be seen and heard all the time when they aren’t doing much at all. People have become frightened of introspection. They see it as a negative thing but we heartily embrace it. When I am at home I love to get away from all of this. You cannot check your email at our cabin. I enjoy meeting people and seeing different places when I am on tour but when it all stops I may not come back!”

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The stylistic shift Sister took from its more overtly metallic predecessor The World. The Flesh. The Devil. (Metal Blade) may have been surprising to some but for Pelle, this was a natural part of the band’s evolution. The World. The Flesh. The Devil. is a good album but not long after it we realised how we could define our sound. In retrospect I think we were looking for a certain atmosphere with that record which really came to life on Sister. How next album will take shape yet is unclear but we have begun piecing the fragments together”.

Despite their tender years, In Solitude have already been a unit in one form or another for over a decade. So many acts come together later in life that we forget there are still a few prodigious talents which were reared together. The Åhman brothers on vocals and guitar may be the main driving force behind the group’s creative process, but Pelle is insistent that it is the collective which makes In Solitude what they are. “We definitely have a gang mentality. We played together since we were eleven. Our drummer and I have been friends since we were very young. Our parents knew each other before we were born! I think we all found our identity in this group. We constantly spend time together walking in the woods but when we write we all disappear to our own corner and bring ideas back to the group. When I look at my life from afar it is strange to see how we have developed. It is a very natural and creative place for all of us. We replaced Mattias (Gustavsson, bass) the last time which worked because we did not understand each other to the degree we do now. I think if we were to lose a member of this band then it would cease to exist as we need each other for this to work.”

Speaking to Åhman, his unwavering conviction and commitment to this tight knit unit couldn’t be any more apparent. Conjuring up romantic notions of walking in the woods of Sweden side by side with his brothers in arms, Åhman does at no point sound trite or sentimental when it comes to discussion of In Solitude and their craft. Talk then turns to the inspiration for the opening track from Sister, ‘He Comes’. On the face of it this is another proclamation of Lucifer’s power but once again there is more to it than meets the eye. Gottfrid had written this song with just a tambourine and acoustic guitar. It was going to be a big electric rock song at some point but it had an energy about it all its own. The lyrics were a poem I had written. The song really concerns all of us (in the band) – we wrote the song with me playing one note on piano and the guys were playing percussion on their guitar cases. The Devil inspires me more than ever before! He is the one that stands upon the threshold of things. My vocabulary has evolved but his influence is more important than ever!”

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In Solitude on Facebook

ROSS BAKER

In Solitude – Beastmilk – Obnoxious Youth: Live at Sound Control Manchester, UK

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A wet and inhospitable Saturday sees occult Swedes In Solitude roll into town bringing with them the scent of incense and apocalyptic Gothic post punk act Beastmilk in tow. Kvost’s deep rich speaking voice gives way to a powerful howl. The “Superstition” wins over the few early arrivals which tear themselves away from the bar.

Before the vespertine delights of Scandinavia are opened to us we get a change of pace in the form of Daniel Bay. Stepping into the breach for punk Obnoxious Youth, Bay delivers heart felt gothic rock which has more appeal than just his Lost Boys chic torn jeans and frizzy hair.

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The charismatic Mat McNerney leads the newly expanded Beastmilk, including recent recruit Linnea Olsson (formerly of The Oath) through a masterful performance. The man known to many as ‘Kvohst’ is a leviathan master of ceremonies, introducing each song with a quick witted remark before unleashing his distinctive croon. Olsson oozes charisma with the extra fire power having added a new depth to the band’s sound. The raunchy ‘Void Mother’ and a stunning ‘Nuclear Winter’ inspire manic dancing at the front of the stage with many punters as keen to see the apocalyptic rockers as the headline act.

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Lilies adorn the stage and the smell of incense fills the air as In Solitude begin their energetic set. Pelle Ahman possesses the air Nick Cave back in his days in The Birthday Party. Throughout tonight’s ten song set the quartet combine a youthful vigour with impressive stagecraft and dynamite songs. ‘Death Knows Where’ and ‘Lavender’ are soaring paeans to ‘Lucifer’ funelled through classic rock and blues with a visceral punk aesthetic.

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Witnessing In Solitude perform, you can instantly recognise the chemistry the members have built from beginning life in their tender years. The maturity and atmosphere in songs like the all-consuming ‘He Comes’ has the audience in rapture. Still only in their early twenties, if the momentum they have built on latest album Sister (Metal Blade) is any indication, they will be a force for many years to come.

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In Solitude on Facebook

Beastmilk on Facebook

Obnoxious Youth on Facebook

WORDS ROSS BAKER

PHOTOS BY LUKE DENHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

Outlasting Trends – Gottfrid Åhman of In Solitude

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Rising Swedish true metal stars In Solitude hit London’s Kentish Town Forum in February with unlikely tour mates Behemoth and Cradle Of Filth, pushing their muscular, melodic brand of classic heavy metal to an audience mostly there to see face-painted men in leather skirts bellowing about Satan. Ghost Cult found bassist Gottfrid Åhmanat the back of their tour bus with a gin and tonic to talk about their new album Sister (Metal Blade), perceived trends and their place on an otherwise exclusively death and black metal bill.

Your earlier material very much took its cues from Mercyful Fate, but Sister seems to draw on a broader collection of influences – is that a deliberate choice, or a more natural development?

I think it’s very natural… when we did the first album we were 16 or 18, you know – we had just learned how to make a rock song. We grew up together playing Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath – those bands taught us how to play our instruments. It’s very natural that when you sit down to write a song, it will sound like them. I think moving on from that, as we have on Sister, is a natural thing, and a thing that comes… maybe not with age, but with knowing how to play your instruments, how to express your true self.”

When you and other like-minded bands started to emerge in the late 2000’s, you were perceived by journalists as being part of a retro heavy metal trend. How do you feel about this?

At the time we were very annoyed – I think all of the bands who were seen as part of that were. I’ve been talking about this with Enforcer and Portrait, and everyone hated it. I think everyone started to play that kind of music, maybe not consciously, but because there was a lack of bands playing the kind of music that we grew up with. It’s a natural thing, to sound like the bands that you grew up with and loved. It wasn’t a trend, it was just that people with similar influences were getting their albums out around the same time. I really feel like the trend is coming now – in 2007, there were only three four bands doing this in Sweden, you know, but now you have lots of demo bands trying to take part in what they’ve been told is a scene.”

It was the same way with black metal – in the early 90s every one talked about the black metal trend, but you didn’t get the trend until years later, when millions of shitty bands turned up.”

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As a genre, classic heavy metal is in its fourth decade, and yet continues to find fans and musicians amongst young people. Where do you think that lasting appeal comes from?

Because it’s just great music. People will always discover the great music, however old. I bought this Velvet Underground box set the other day – younger people have been picking up on Velvet Underground pretty much every ten years, purely because of the quality of the music – it’s the same with Mercyful Fate, they’re just one of the best bands ever, you know? It’s natural that people will keep trying to sound like them. Back in 97 and 98 we felt a real hunger for it – no-one was really sounding like that or talking about those groups. When we were 15 or 16 and picked up on it, we were really provoked by that – why aren’t people talking about these bands?”

Do you think the perception of being ‘underground’ has anything to do with that?

Definitely not. I think Mercyful Fate should stand alongside The Beatles. I never think in terms of underground or mainstream – I think it’s an unnecessary argument, it doesn’t say anything about what the music is about. Of course, I cared about that when I was younger… all underground movements are important when it comes to exposing young people to culture, making them part of something, but when it comes to writing music it’s completely foolish to think in those terms”

The general consensus among fans and reviewers seems to be that Sister is more Gothic than your earlier material. How do you feel about that?

Everyone uses that word! I think it’s funny, because I don’t really know what Gothic music is, to be honest. I know that people name-drop Sisters Of Mercy, who I’ve never heard… I fucking love Danzig, so that reference is not so surprising. But yes, this Gothic thing is hard to adjust to. I think something new happens and people always have to blame something… now they blame the Gothic music scene. I don’t really know what makes In Solitude more gothic than Black Sabbath or The Stooges.

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Not wanting to speak for others, but personally I found the material on Sister to have more of a romantic, even a seductive feel, compared the more straight-forward heavy metal feel of your earlier material.

It’s funny that you should say that… when we did this album we talked a lot about this. After it was finished, we thought it had a much harder attitude, you know, that it was a lot more in your face – the drum sound is a lot more natural and hard, and also the guitars. Most metal productions, to me, aren’t very extreme, or very hard. All those bands using lots of distortion – that only makes the guitars sound smooth. What makes a guitar sound really hard is playing it clean without lots of distortion, then you can really hear it smash. With Sister, we all listened to it after the production was finished, and our response was just… fuck! This is so hard-sounding!”

“It is a really hard soundscape, much harder than
The World, The Flesh, The Devil, for example – which I think is a much more romantic album in a way. The arrangements are more like classical, whereas with Sister I find it more morbid. I think also our previous albums haven’t been that personal, so it was easier to connect them with other metal bands. Now something different happens, and I think people have hooked onto this idea that we’re more Gothic now… probably one person said that and others picked up on it.”

A lot of people are name-dropping stuff that they think have been influences to us, and I have always really hated name-dropping, that you have to describe a band by reference to others. I do think that comparing bands to bands is just really pointless. In bad reviews of the album, people write “I don’t like that they’ve been influenced by this, they’re too into Sisters of Mercy” – it’s like, what the fuck? I’ve never even heard them! They’re just saying stuff that’s not true.”

Do you feel this may be attributed to many metal fans and journalists not really having a lot of experience of music beyond metal? That they may be bewildered by outside influences?

I don’t know if people maybe get provoked by it, or if they just don’t get it. I try not to read reviews, but of course you do… most of them seem to be saying that it’s good, so that’s great. You don’t want to complain… I hate complaining. I’m glad that people seem to be enjoying it, but I find the whole Gothic thing really strange.”

This is probably a question you’ve been asked before on this tour, but you don’t seem like the most natural choice for this bill. Do you see yourselves as the odd-ones-out on this package?

No, that’s a new question! It’s also true, and I totally agree. Of course you don’t want to sound like an asshole, you know, but it’s like… I can admire stuff that Behemoth or Inquisition are doing, but of course musically we don’t have a lot in common with them, and this tour is really not an obvious thing for us to do. To be honest it came a little out of desperation, we really wanted to do something while the album was fresh, Nergal asked us and I really respect and like him, so it was like, “okay, why not?”

The really good thing is that we have the opportunity to play to hundreds of people every night who’ve probably never heard of us. Of course it’s safe to go out and play to people who already know you, so this feels like risky business, but I think it’s really healthy to take that kind of risk, and at the moment I’m really enjoying it. Of course I’m really looking forward to going out headlining, playing for our die-hard fans, that’s always the most rewarding thing… but hopefully we’ll win some more fans this trip!”

 

In Solitude on Facebook

By Richie H-R

Live photo by Ian Cashman

Ghost Cult #16 is here!

Ghost Cult 16 front cover largeHuzzah! Ghost Cult Magazine Issue #16 is out now! Featuring our interview with Cynic discussing their new album, philosophy, the creative process, Chuck Schuldiner’s legacy and more! Plus other featured interviews with Skeletonwitch, Red Fang, Morbid Angel, Stolen Babies, In Solitude, Howl, Music Author Neil Daniels, Throne of Katarsis, ,Valkyrie, Sarke, concert promoter Willem Van Maele of TMR Promotions; Lamb of GodAs The Palaces Burn film, the NAMM Show recap, Sunn O)))) & Ulver EP, Stone Sour, Alcest, Amon Amarth, Long Distance Calling, Chimaira and tons more metal! Check it out! http://ow.ly/uQP2j

Behemoth – Cradle of Filth- In Solitude – Inquisition: Live at The Forum, London UK

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Kicking off a long evening with a double-shot of generic but competent black metal, Svarttjern and Inquisition inspire a healthy response from early attendees, despite support-band sound and a lack of engaging stage presence. The former bring more of a DM touch to their songs, while the latter’s uncanny Immortal impression and two members draw the most attention.

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In Solitude know they’re on the wrong bill, but they launch into their first track of atmospheric classic heavy metal with total enthusiasm. A muddy, over-loud sound robs them of some subtlety and grace, and this was never their audience, but their professionalism and energy wins them some new fans. Watch out for them headlining their own shows.

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Playing to a large audience of hard-core fans, one time British black metal royalty Cradle Of Filth take to the stage like headliners. For a brief time tonight it’s possible to overlook the last decade of over-long, unspectacular “come-back” albums and ironic mugging, as they thunder gloriously through a set-list of old classics and a few newer favourites as if everyone in the venue had come to see them. The pit is filled with people screaming every word and greeting old classics with the kind of howling you’d expect for a headliner, and the band remind us how good they truly were before hype and backlash got in the way. As surprise encore ‘Funeral In Carpathia’ crashes to a close they leave the stage to many fans still shouting for more, and my inner 18-year-old finally stops grinning. Thank you, Dani – those long years of goth clubs and Never Mind The Buzzcocks appearances were hard to bear, but we’ll always have Paris. Or Kentish Town.

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You know a band are big beyond usual metal terms when a literally-packed-to-bursting Forum explodes into excited cheers every time a roadie picks up a mic-stand. After a long and unusually well-received soundcheck, Behemoth take the stage to a level of theatrics and professionalism that make their peers look like pub bands. Trading in their leather man-skirts for a tribal-paint-and-leathers style that makes them look like a pack of Chaos Beastmen, the band dominate the elaborately decorated stage with movements so precise and commanding that you suspect they’ve rehearsed them.

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Musically they’re even more precise, a stunning sound supporting a mercilessly tight, martial delivery of songs from their new album The Satanist (Metal Blade) alongside older classics. Behemoth are a band that have never entirely worked for me on record, their albums polished but a little superficial, but live it makes sense. Nergal is a genuinely masterful front-man, leading the band and the audience with an absolutely commanding performance of pure Metal arrogance, but between songs displaying a more human side, talking about his joy to have survived his recent health scares. Shining through their stern stage-manner and martial theatrics is genuine enjoyment and pleasure, and they communicate this to the fans – the packed audience go crazy, welcoming every track like a classic, and if their material still lacks a certain depth, absolutely no-one here cares.

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Set List:

Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel

Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer

Conquer All

Decade of Therion

As Above So Below

Slaves Shall Serve

Christians to the Lions

Driven by the Five-Winged Star

The Satanist

Ov Fire and the Void

Alas, Lord Is Upon Me

Furor Divinus

At the Left Hand ov God

Chant for Eschaton 2000

Encore:

O Father O Satan O Sun

 

Behemoth on Facebook

Cradle of Filth on Facebook

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Inquisition on Facebook

Svarttjern on Facebook

Works: Richie H-R

Photos: Ian Cashman

Watain – In Solitude – Tribulation: Live At The Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA USA

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Outside the Underground Arts in Philadelphia, a line of people dressed to the nines in black garb waited for the doors to open. A collection of people sported vests and jackets with numerous patches on them, a testament to their devout following of the metal genre. In the middle of the line a twenty-something sold various patches, each one carefully placed on a slab of cardboard. The breezy, chilly night tore through the line. They all waited patiently for the doors to open.

 

 

 

 

 

When they finally did, after what seemed like an eternity, the patrons filed in one by one, handing the doorman their identification. They walked through two large gates, down a flight of stairs that curled round and descended again. At the foot of the second flight stood the entrance to the basement. On the right was the ticket merchant, selling entrance to the show for twenty-five dollars. Inside, the patrons made their way to the bar, loading up on alcohol before the nights festivities began. It was an eclectic selection of drinks — various tapped beers and second-tier liquors. Over on the back wall sat the merchandise table, peddling various t-shirts and gramophone records. After the patrons had alcohol in them, they wandered over to the table, dropping hard-earned dollars on band goodies.

 

The first act to grace the stage was Tribulation, and they played well. Heavy riffs washed over the set, coupled with the urgent speed and intensity. Johannes Andersson’s growls were raw and aggressive. Tribulation is primarily death metal, but there were tinges of black metal mixed in to create a whole sound. Buttressed by the speedy, all-out-attack guitarwork of Jonathan Hultén, the band carried on their half-hour set, full of smoke machines and bright red lighting. The crowd did not seem into it — they were amped up for what would come later on in the evening.

 

In Solitude came on next. Their new release on Metal Blade Records, Sister, hit quite a high mark in terms of reviews, but overall the band was extremely boring. Their vocalist, Pelle Åhman, looked drunk; he wobbled around on stage and sung inaudible lyrics. Musically, their style is straight “heavy metal” (whatever that means), with added influence from gothic rock acts of the 80s. The crowd was more into it, throwing up the metal sign of appreciation. Their set seemed to drag on endlessly. Their set list mixed some of the old with the new — about halfway through their set they played the title track of the new album, which sounded underwhelming. In Solitude was difficult to suffer through; they are not the great band everyone claims them to be. They might attract a lot of people with their sound, how different it is from the rest of pack, but all-in-all In Solitude is a lackluster band with mediocre musicianship and a sound that translates to dull.

 

After the Swedish quintet quit the stage, the crewmen began to set up the upside-down crosses on the stage. They took down the giant In Solitude banner that hung behind the drumkit, and moved the props into position. In front of the drumkit, nestled on the back of the stage, stood an altar with various cups and swords placed on top. As the clock drew closer to ten-thirty, the lights went out and over the various cheers in the crowd and the PA system blaring, Watain took the stage. Dressed in their usual attire of corpsepaint and blood, they started their decimation of the Underground Arts. The floor, packed with drunken metalheads, tore open; the pit engulfed stragglers who came there to just see the group perform. One large and very drunk gentleman began to tackle everyone within his reach, dragging them down onto the concrete floor. Some punches were thrown before the Watain crew stepped in to separate the aggressor from his victim. This continued to happen for some time; the pit grew larger in size and bodies crashed against each other, charging one-on-one like soldiers running into battle. Up on stage, Watain scurried through some of their back catalog before playing new tracks from The Wild Hunt. The overall sound was not up to snuff with the album quality, and with the lack of burning items and animal heads skewered on stakes, the whole ambience of the performance could best be described as lackluster. The mics were too low, the bass cranked up too high, and the guitars churned out black metal tremolos that just blended in with the cacophony. Watain is known for their use of props and elaborate stage presence, but here in the basement of the Underground Arts, they were met with flashing lights and the overused smoke machine, leaving very little room for their whole “Satanic” persona to breathe. The raucous crowd ate it up though, even if the set felt rushed and a trifle boring.

 

The show ended. The bands all packed their gear and props in their tour vans, the merchandise assorted into boxes and put in each van accordingly. The crowd thinned; a few stragglers were left at the bar, drinking away the rest of the evening. Eventually, the doors to the Underground Arts would close. The once inviting gates would be locked, and all that would be left were memories. The patrons would go off into that good night, yearning for another concert and venue, one that would certainly top this.

 

Watain/In Solitude/Tribulation

The Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA

October 9th, 2013

 

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Words: Bill Haff