LIVE REVIEW : CARACH ANGREN + MORS PRINCIPIUM EST + WOLFHEART
CARACH ANGREN + MORS PRINCIPIUM EST + WOLFHEART + EMPYREAN THRONE + BLOOD AND THUNDER Club SUR | Seattle, WA October 9, 2018
Twice a year. It’s the average frequency at which I have been seeing Carach Angren since they first set foot in America. This is how I found myself at their show again, less than a year after seeing them with Children of Bodom. Although this time it was different; this was Carach Angren’s first ever headlining tour on US soil. My body was ready.
Supported by two Finnish bands that no longer need introductions — Wolfheart and Mors Principium Est — the Dutch band made its way to Seattle to play a relatively new venue for metal shows, Club SUR, which seems to be taking over for their now defunct neighbors Studio Seven. Other than the 3 main acts, 2 openers were billed for that night. Stacked.
Seattle locals Blood and Thunder were just getting ready to start when we got in. When it comes to live performance, I am always very impressed by a drummer/vocalists combo — they are rare for a reason. Blood And Thunder has one at their helm, and to him I say “Impressive… very impressive”. There were a lot of locals who seemed familiar with this melodeath outfit and it got slightly rowdy. They played a good set - it was short but got the crowd in the mood as the venue slowly filled.
The following band started preparing for their performance and the first thing that went up on stage was a small altar with a ram skull, red candles and a chalice. More props were being loaded onto the small club stage, and out of the corner of my eye I could see the members getting ready. They reminded me of the German band Varg, aesthetically-speaking —clad in full custom leather and metal outfits, and black and red war paint… Is this Empyrean Throne? This was going to be either amazing, or terrible.
The lights dimmed, the candles were lit, and this 5-piece from California previously unknown to me got on stage and ripped my fucking face off. Figuratively. I really liked what I heard, although I found out later that on record they have a lot more arrangements than what could be heard then — which made me love them even more. It would have made my first exposure to them even better had it been audible live, because it gives them an edge à la Turisas still unique to themselves, and that is something most death/black metals do not have. And I just gotta love a band that introduces a song about the Crusades by lighting pillars on fire, and leads the crowd into chanting DEUS VULT! over and over. The singer proceeded to commune with the chalice I mentioned earlier, and swung it over the crowd but actually dumped all of it on me. This is fine. What is that, cordial? I feel like a born-again sinner, thank you. As the fire ran dimmer on the pillars up front, the band played their final song. I was sold, and I was going to listen to more of them in the morning — that, I had decided. The cohesive unit looked and played like real professionals, and I can’t wait to see them grow their popularity because they deserve some serious recognition.
Wolfheart were up next. I didn’t get to see them on 70,000 Tons of Metal this year, but many of my friends did and had become big fans. So I was all eyes and ears for their show, but unfortunately for me I was still somewhat blinded by the previous act. Wolfheart is a cold, hard death metal band. The fans in attendance went wild, but the strangely-divided venue has a chain link fence running through the floor which prevents any real rowdiness from happening. Forget circle pits, but even forget a regular pit. It made the set a bit lackluster, because this should have been music to get thrown around to. So while the crowd seemed a bit sluggish, Wolfheart themselves played a solid set. They are currently on tour in Europe supporting Nothgard, so go see them for yourself! Mors Principium Est; another 70K survivor band I did not get to see previously, although they are returning this year and hopefully I find a hot minute to make an appearance at their show. They have a real serious following in the melodeath crowd, with reason. Again, it may have been because the crowd wasn’t quite able to be themselves, but other than the front row, the room seemed immobile during most of their set. They played an intense 45 minutes and included my favourite, “Apprentice of Death”, so I was pleased as punch.
And so we were left with Carach Angren, the main course of this varied and very filling metal banquet. Behind the cemetery gates of his drum kit, Namtar (Ivo Wijers) appeared while the seemingly endless intro played. The haunted keyboard made its apparition, and Carach Angren came rushing through full-speed ahead, and opened with “Charlie”. The ever-so-theatrical Seregor (Dennis Droomers) stomped and gesticulated over the crowd, and showed us some really neat knife tricks he learned! This was his beloved Jane Doe’s first North American voyage, and the crowd cheered as Seregor lovingly hacked the fuck out of her throat and drank her blood after the band played “Blood Queen”. Have you ever seen a guy in PVC pants eat bloody mannequin pussy? I have. Carach Angren will show you things you never thought you wanted to witness.
The band also brought back two songs that despite the number of times I had seen Carach Angren live I had never had the honor to see: “General Nightmare”, and to my great pleasure, “The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist”. Seeing Ardek (Clemens Wijers) play the beautiful piano piece from this song in real life was delightful, and I am so grateful they decided to put this song back on the set for this tour.
Carach Angren played what seemed like a tragically short set for a headliner, until I realized they had been at it for over an hour. Time sure flies when you’re being seduced by the Lammendam.