Hulder, Blackbraid @ Le Poisson Rouge
Updated: Jun 4
The year is 1524 and fleet of canoes maneuver softly across the bay towards a mighty ship off the coast of an island called Manahatta. On this day, Giovanni da Verrazzano of modern day Italy meets the Lenape people and claims the title of the first European to do so.
Barely a century later, the descendants of those who met da Verrazzano would find their world changed forever when, in 1626, the tribe was said to have 'sold' their land to Dutch settlers in what is now argued as a crooked bargain. Herein begins the history of the City of New York and the exodus of the Native Americans that lived there.
Yet, nearly five hundred years since de Verrazzano's voyage, the sound of a tribal flute was heard on the island, ringing out loudly in the night. Just a short walk north of where the Lenape once called home, Hulder and Blackbraid came together for one night at Le Poisson Rogue to inject the power of the natural world into the concrete veins of New York.
While Manhattanites of 2023 often consider 'upstate New York' as anything north of the Bronx, those in the know understand how vast and wild the state can truly be. Among them is the one known as Sgah'gahsowáh (pronounced SKA-Gah-SoW-Ah). Otherwise known as Jon Krieger, he is the creative mind behind Blackbraid, and is already on track to becoming heavy metal's next great sensation.
Combining Native American lore and heritage with atmospheric black metal, Blackbraid channeled the essence of the Adirondacks with performances of "The River of Time Flows Through Me" and "Barefoot Ghost Dance on Blood Soaked Soil". Bringing two new songs to the stage, "The Spirit Returns" and "Moss Covered Bones on the Alter of the Moon" gave a taste of the follow up to Blackbraid I, released last year.
While each song was followed by deafening cheers from the crowd, the entire venue went silent for the performance of "As the Creek Flows Softly By". Heads bowed, eyes watered, and a feeling of both isolation and togetherness filled the room as the guitars played mournfully beneath a solemn flute, delivered by Sgah'gahsowáh himself.
Heartbroken to see the set finish, fans in the crowd began to compare how far they had traveled to be in New York for the show. Tampa, Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, Berlin, Prague, it seemed like everyone had a story to tell of the journey to the evening's performance. With this dedicated of a fanbase after only one album, there is no stopping Blackbraid and its creator's mission to bring indigenous history to stages worldwide.
Author's Note: as an individual of indigenous ancestry, albeit Central American Native, it was an honor to experience Native American influenced metal in a place that was, and still technically is (there is no actual bill of sale for the purchase of Manahatta, only a letter written to the West India Company reporting on the matter) Lenape land. May the spirits be on your side in all your journeys. ~ The Metal Mayan
With powerful energy still in the air, another forest dweller took the stage to wield the force of the Pacific Northwest. Born in Belgium but currently based in Washington state, the lamenting notes of "Curse from Beyond" followed by the gnashing black metal fury of "Burden of Flesh and Bone" signaled that she who is known as Hulder had arrived.
Giving some reprieve with the first movement of "A Forlorn Peasant's Hymn", the remainder of the song brought back the aggression that so easily wins over fans of bands such as Satyricon and Horna.
Though perhaps a coincidence, if the chill of the outside world was not enough, the air conditioning pumping into the room was certainly appropriate for the performance of "Upon Frigid Winds".
Set to tour the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada in April and May with Wolves In the Throne Room, even those who caught Hulder on their 2022 stop in New York with Exhumed heading home already anxious for the next show.
Press and photo pass courtesy of Season of Mist