Last night: Gojira at the Marquis

Gojira, Krallice and Wolves in the Throne Room
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Marquis Theater, Denver
Better Than:
A nationalist rather than socially conscious black metal show.

Krallice opened the show. A four-piece whose membership includes Mick Barr, one of Marnie Stern's primary influences, the outfit at first sounded like a progressive metal band, but went on to showcase guitar work that was a little too weird and outside the lines to fit strictly into designation. Instead, as Barr and bassist Nick McMaster shared vocal duties throughout the act's three-song set, a black metal sound emerged, infused with more conventional melodies, driven by grindcore blast beats and brutally textured rhythms.

Up next was Wolves In the Throne Room. As the group took the stage, the room darkened, with cool color lights and candles illuminating the stage as a foreboding, rumbling ambient piece played. Nathan Weaver's guitar had a bright blue light attached to the body that pierced the fog and the relative darkness of the room, as the band launched its set, which sounded like it was comprised of the entire

Black Cascade

album. "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" set the stage for the band's great sweeps/streams of roaring guitar drive, epic dynamics and masterfully-executed accents in the riffs, whether at hyper speed or at a more nuanced pace.

To that end, "Ahrimanic Trance" had rhythms so dense and forceful such that metaphors like "galloping" and "stampeding" seem inadequate to describe the effect of this song in the live setting. Normally the whole double-bass thing annoys me but during "Ex Cathedra," Wolves used it to create a textural backdrop that allowed the other sounds to create tension. The set ended with "Crystal Ammunition," which started off with an accelerating clangor. Somewhere in the middle, less hectic, section of the song the tune recalled a black metal version of "Hey You" by Pink Floyd. It all climaxed with the sound of pure devastation. If Wolves are a black metal band, then so is Isis, Neurosis, Jesu and Godflesh, because they're all coming from similarly intense, dense musical territories.

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Gojira came as a bit of a surprise. A good, technical metal/death metal band from France, the outfit had a social/spiritual agenda in its songwriting but that agenda never compromised the music, and beyond being incredibly gracious with the audience, Joe Duplantier and his bandmates delivered not only great jackhammer-percussion driven thrash, but also sonically experimental touches like a vocoder on Duplantier's voice during "A Sight to Behold." When the band wasn't pummeling us with its relentless usual sound, it had interesting atmospherics and truly creative and subtle effective dynamics. The set ended with "The Way of All Flesh," but the wildly enthusiastic crowd got Gorjira up for an encore.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I recently heard a Wolves in the Throne Room track on a compilation and loved it.
Random Detail: One of the stage staff at the Marquis had on a Cephalic Carnage hoodie.
By the Way: This show was more animated yet less violent than most metal and punk shows I've been to lately.

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