Behemoth, At The Gates and Wolves In the Throne Room at The Aztec Theatre, San Antonio, TX 10/23/2018

I absolutely love packaged tours that don’t have any filler.  Give me a triple or quadruple stacked bill and I am just about as happy as I get.  This one was a great blend of European and American black metal with a chaser of Gothenburg death metal.

If you had approached me years ago and said that Behemoth would be a band that would start to gain a fairly substantial footprint in the mainstream metal world, I probably would have considered you a nutball.  Black metal is just extreme.  From its blasphemous subject matter to it’s scary visuals to the extremity of its abrasive sound, black metal isn’t something that is going to appeal to your average metal fan, let alone your mainstream consumer of music in general.  So, for Behemoth to ply their trade in black metal and not compromise in its presentation of such and to start to accumulate a very strong fan base within the metal community is still surprising to me.  Granted, Behemoth has enjoyed a healthy reputation in Europe, but I’m used to seeing them play small, dingy clubs.  The Aztec Theatre in San Antonio is one of these fancy old theaters that has been refurbished recently.  It’s a classy venue is what I’m trying to say.  I think the pull of this band and the reason for their upward ascent to becoming one of the first black metal bands to fully gain widespread fame/notoriety is due to the creativity and charismatic performances of their frontman Nergal.  He’s one of those guys who is hard to take your eyes off of.  He has crafted Behemoth in his image and has created this stage persona of Nergal into one of the more interesting stage characters in metal today.  Going beyond just corpse paint, Behemoth comes out in full costumes, masks and all sorts of headgear.  At one point, Nergal even channeled his inner Gene Simmons and coughed up blood during the beginning of one song.  Which.Was.Fucking.Awesome!  I couldn’t repress a goofy grin when this happened.  Its theatrics, dammit.  And the metal world is better for it.

Openers At The Gates and Wolves In The Throne Room both brought energetic sets prior to Behemoth taking the stage.  At The Gates is touring off of their second post-reunion album, To Drink From the Night Itself, and they hit the new album and their classic period albums in about equal force.  Seeing the energy these guys bring to the stage really makes me wonder why it took so long for them to get back together.  This was my first experience with Wolves In The Throne Room and was kind of surprised to see them come out as a five-piece rather than the trio that performs on their albums.  At any rate, they provided a wall of sound and really captured the sound of their albums in the live setting down to the ambient fires burning and dripping sounds of water interspersed between songs.  They definitely seem like the band who will be filling the void in the Northwestern U.S. black metal scene left by Agalloch.

Behemoth-Ov Fire and the Void

At The Gates-At War With Reality

Wolves In The Throne Room-Angrboda

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