Much like the magazine that spawned this annual trek of the best in metal, The Decibel Tour has officially become an institution for our scene. I look forward to the announcement every year, it’s a given the lineup will rule. This year was stacked as one of the best with Enslaved, Wolves In The Throne Room, Myrkur, and Khemmis.
Irving Plaza is getting a reputation as a tough place to cover a show. Sure the venue is a New York legend and a place I have seen over 1500 shows. However, I have noticed an overzealous attitude by security towards fans the last few years that is turning me off big time. I get that they have less rock and metal shows than they used to, but the staff seems woefully ignorant of heavy music fans and their typical behavior. We’re just having a good time and not hurting anyone folks. Give us the space to rock and chill out with the rent a cop thuggishness and holier than thou shit, security.
Back to the music, Khemmis hit the stage first and they were incredible. They lived up to all the hype and more with moving, mournful performance worthy of all the greats in doom. When their short set was at an end I felt sad that they were done and resolved to be front and center for every performance I can make it to in my power. If that wasn’t enough, they are looking awesome dudes. They brosefed down with fans, chatted with fans, and had some sweet limited edition vinyl I picked up.
The enigmatic and wonderful Myrkur was next and she had a lot of heads in the house tonight. I can’t recall an artist being challenged or loved at the same time by this fanbase, but that struggle makes her flawless performances even more compelling. For the third time seeing her and her band, she pulled out all the stops, played tracks from all of her releases, unearthing all the grief and soul razing emotion out of every note she sang or played. Whether it was her incredible voice, showing skills on non-traditional instruments, or simply when she strapped on a guitar, she exuded talent and grace in every moment.
One thing about NYC and a show like this; all the” trues” come out of the work. I don’t mean to sound elitist here, but even the headliner, a beloved legendary band by any measure is not a household name in a commercial sense. This is challenging, well-crafted music meant for real fans. I’m sure there are always jaded scenesters at every show if they were there, they were in the shadows on this night.
WITTR took the stage in typical blackness. They surprised many in attendance with a long set, leaning heavily on their classic material, with only a few newer tunes. The crowd seemed to swell to capacity as they took the stage, ready to kill. They were brutal through and through and had the best pits of the night. In typical fashion, they spoke very little to the crowd and went off with little fanfare but a lot of applause. I’m shocked to say some of the crowd even left after their jaw-dropping performance. I have never seen a band open for Enslaved and steal the show from them, but tonight it damn near happened.
Enslaved came on to close out the show and the fans left, about 80% of the earlier crowd was ready. They might have been a little spent on energy and plenty drunk, but they raged all the same. The band was in great form, as usual intense, jovial, fierce. Sure they take music seriously, but they have a lot of fun up there. It was great to once again hear all of the voices of the crowd in New York uplifted to Odin, singing along the entire night. Highlights for me included ‘Storm Son’, ‘Vetranott’, ‘Sacred Horse’, and the closer ‘Isa’. It was a phenomenal end to an exhausting night, and I wonder if Decibel can even top this bill next year, but I welcome them to try.
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HEATHER WILKERSON