Polish blackened death metal masters Behemoth launch a brutal attack on Detroit with support from At the Gates and Wolves in the Throne Room.

The night gets off to a rousing start from Wolves in the Throne Room from Olympia, WA.  The band led by Nathan Weaver on vocals and guitar puts a unique spin on black metal.  The epic songs are driven by guitars and rapid beats but weave in synthesizers to give it an atmospheric sound. Adding to that aura is the use of very dark lighting, smoke, and incense throughout their set. Their set only consists of 3 songs, “Angrboda”, “The Old Ones Are With Us”, and “Born From the Serpent’s Eye”, but all run close to 10 minutes.  All are from their 2017 album Thrice Woven. Their music is labelled as black metal, but it has an ambience to it that sets it apart from others in the genre.  The crowd loves it and responds with huge cheers.

Next up is the Swedish death metal band At the Gates. These guys have been around since 1991.  While they took a hiatus for a while, they reformed in 2007 and have since put out 2 great albums; At War with Reality in 2015 and To Drink from the Night Itself in 2018.  A good portion of their set tonight is drawn from those 2 albums including both title tracks, “Death and the Labyrinth”, “Heroes and Toms” and the blistering “A Stare Bound in Stone”.  However, to keep the long-time fans happy, they include 4 songs from the killer 1995 album Slaughter of the Soul including the title track and “Blinded by Fear”.

There is not much time to catch your breath with the intense pace of these songs.  It is a sonic assault with the guitars of Martin Larsson and Jonas Stalhammar, the rapid-fire drumming of Adrian Erlandsson, and guttural shrieks of Tomas Lindberg.  The male-dominated crowd has been whipped into a frenzy with a mosh pit taking up a sizable portion of the middle of the floor. And this is just a warm-up for the headliner.  Wow! From the reaction, it is obvious these fans love their metal and its only going to get crazier shortly.

The room darkens and the blackened death metal pioneers Behemoth from Poland take the stage to deafening cheers. The band members appear to be wearing partial skull masks painted black.  Led by Nergal on guitars and vocals, they waste no time keeping this rabid crowd fired up with “Wolves ov Siberia” off their latest release I Loved You at Your Darkest.  The sound is tight, and the low end reverberates throughout the venue sending vibrations through your body.  That feeling is accentuated during the blazing onslaught of “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”.   Nergal takes very little time to address the crowd, choosing to let the music do the talking as he introduces “God = Dog”.

Like At the Gates, they have been cranking out metal for going on 30 years, and they seem to be gaining fans with the last few releases and a huge tour with Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, and Testament this past summer.  This headlining tour is a great opportunity to introduce new fans to songs from across their history including all the way back to 1999 with “Decade of Therion” from Satanica and from across 5 other albums.  With aggressive sounds and typically dark-themed lyrics that are often anti-Christian, this is not music for the faint of heart.  You are not going to find any of this on mainstream radio, yet they have managed to build up a loyal fan base.

It is a non-stop attack on the senses with many of the songs coming like a tidal wave with brutal beats from Inferno, thunderous bass of Orion, ungodly fast shredding from Seth and Nergal, and harsh vocals.  Wearing dark clothing, face and body paint, the band members have a haunting look.  At one point in the show, Orion returns to the stage wearing a creepy, feathered headpiece.  Along with dark lighting and cool mic stands with what look like cobras, it makes for imagery out of a horror film.  They also make use of multiple CO2 cannons that propel smoke vertically as well as horizontally with such force it consumes the whole stage and for a few seconds hides the band. 

The crazed fans respond with cheers, horns and fist pumps after every song, with Nergal leading them in clapping before launching into “Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica”.  There is also a massive mosh pit going throughout their set, and even a few body surfers make their way to the front of the stage.  Nergal thanks the fans after “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and the band exits.

It does not take long for them to return with the crowd chanting “Behemoth” loudly.  They wind down with several older songs including “Lucifer” and “Slaves Shall Serve”, before closing with “We Are the Next 1000 Years” from their latest album. It is an intense set that has left these fans exhausted, but thoroughly delighted.

The complete set for Behemoth tonight is “Wolves ov Siberia”, “Daimonos”, “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”, “Bartzabel”, “Ov Fire and the Void”, “God = Dog” “Conquer All”, “Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica”, “Decade of Therion”, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, “Slaves Shall Serve”, “Chant for Eschaton 2000”, “Lucifer”, “We Are the Next 1000 Years”.

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At the Gates
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Wolves in the Throne Room
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Saint Andrew’s Hall
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