Wolves In The Throne Room, Blackbraid, Gaerea @ The Brooklyn Monarch
Updated: Oct 15
With October Rust in full effect, nightfall and crisp gusts come earlier in Brooklyn with each passing day. In this most mystical of seasons, it is quite fitting then that the Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge tour would roll into Williamsburg, bringing with it some of the finest names in black metal.
Clad in leather jackets and long sleeved shirts to shield from chilly winds, fans packed the inside of the Brooklyn Monarch, eager to see Wolves In The Throne Room, as well as their special guests Blackbraid, Gaerea, and Hoaxed. What would follow would be a night of enchanting music performed to a spellbound audience - truly the essence of autumn.
Editor's note: The Metal Mayan regrets to have missed Hoaxed due to traffic getting to the venue. We wish you safe travels and hope to see you back in NYC again soon. Catch Hoaxed on tour with Baroness October 31 (Portland, OR) and November 03 (Seattle, WA).
With their first North American tour completed earlier this year as support for Rotting Christ (check out our original coverage here), Gaerea's return to New York was by far one of the most anticipated events of the year. In the months since their premier in the Big Apple, fans had plenty of time to prepare for the blackened sermon ahead.
Starting off the set with "Mantle", the raw, haunting sounds that is quickly propelling the band to legendary status filled the venue. Vocally akin to Behemoth and musically influenced by bands such as Dark Fortress and Uada, the latter of which was also part of the Rotting Christ tour, Gaerea's masked appearance is still only second in uncanniness to their vocalist's onstage twists, ticks, and rattles.
Continuing into the the Batushka-esque "Salve", the dissonant "Deluge", and the churning riffs of "Urge", Gaerea's vocalist, whose identity is still not officially confirmed, easily commanded fans to give everything they had. Though certainly worthy of a stage the size of the Gramercy Theater, which was their first stage in New York, Gaerea seemed right at home in a smaller, more intimate setting, especially when paired with ample fog and moody lighting.
Rounding out the set with the title track from 2022's Mirage and "Laude", the performance seemed to fly by with many fans demanding more.
Though remaining faceless and borderline anonymous, Gaerea took many opportunities to express their gratitude to the audience. From the many thanks said during the set and the final bow at the end, to the time taken to meet fans at the merch table, take pictures, and sign records, there was sincerity behind every "thank you for coming to see us" said.
Boasting two successful North American runs to their name, New York fans now anxiously wait for the next time Gaerea's golden symbols - which appear on their stage props and merchandise - will fly over the city.
Following a breakout performance with Hulder in February (original coverage here) and a subsequent North American tour with Dark Funeral and Cattle Decapitation, New York's own Blackbraid continues to be the trailblazer otherwise referred to as black metal's next great sensation.
Beginning the ritual gathering with "The Spirit Returns", few if any heads could resist banging in time with the icy guitars and pummeling drums. Invoking the might of the land and the sky, vocalist Jon "Sgah'gahsowáh" Krieger's (pronounced SKA-Gah-SoW-Ah) roar reigned supreme in league with the rest of the band.
Having perfected their blend of Dissection and Immortal influenced riffs with the Native American lore and heritage that has brought the band critical acclaim, "The Wolf That Guides the Hunters Hand" made its New York City debut. Bringing to mind deep forests and snow covered trails, this song was by far one of the most appropriate for the first cold nights of autumn.
Despite its thirteen and a half minute long run time, "Moss Covered Bones on the Alter of the Moon" has received ample airplay on Sirius XM Liquid Metal, and has made DJ Jose "Metal Ambassador" Mangin's 'Devil's Dozen' list on several occasions. As the only song in the set to include the band's iconic tribal flute, roars of approval came from the audience as Krieger stepped up the mic with it in hand.
With a majority of the set taken from Blackbraid II, released in July, the band concluded the set with the song that started it all: "Barefoot Ghost Dance on Blood Soaked Soil". Though running into some technical issues at this point, Blackbraid nonetheless finished the set with full force.
As a young band with two stellar releases to date, there is still much to look forward to as Blackbraid's following continues to grow and their message is shared with audiences around the world.
As one of the champions of the Pacific Northwest black metal scene, Wolves In The Throne Room rounded out the night with majesty and elegance. Originally scheduled to hit New York in early 2022 alongside Uada and Full of Hell, the tour was cancelled less than a month before the tour began, making this the first show in the city since the band's 2018 run with Enslaved.
To make up for lost time, the set began with "Mountain Magick" and "Spirit Lightning", both off fan favorite Primordial Arcana released in 2021. Doused in heavy fog, the barks and screams of vocalist/guitarist Nathan Weaver seemed more like that of an ancient forest deity than anything human.
Having graced the set back in 2018, fans who missed the last show were at last able to hear "Angrboda", off 2017's Thrice Woven played live. Moving into the staples of the set, "Prayer of Transformation" was the sole representative from Celestial Lineage while the band's sophomore opus, Two Hunters, still sees two tracks performed.
At twelve and eighteen minutes respectively, "Vastness and Sorrow" and "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots" stand as two of the three longest songs performed in a night, with the aforementioned Blackbraid song taking second place at 13.5 minutes. Yet, this is arguably the heart of atmospheric black metal: a spiritual journey through nature and time where minutes no longer matter.
It is this experience that fans have waiting five long years for Wolves In The Throne Room to bring them and, if the excited conversations among the crowd after the show reflect anything, this was accomplished to the highest degree. A masterpiece of metal performance captured on the perfect sized stage.
Ticket and photo pass courtesy of Suspiria PR