The soothing sounds of nature flourished within the fog shrouding the stage at Crowbar (29 November) in Brisbane.
Alongside the fog machine’s hiss, crickets chirped, fire crackled, and leaves rustled. However, the auditory forest’s calm was short-lived. Threats lurked in the form of an ominous synth drone and the scrapes of a blade being sharpened.
The silhouettes of Wolves In The Throne Room slowly solidified in the fog, submerging the venue in nightmarish shrieks of guitar. Whether ambient music or black metal, Wolves In The Throne Room have used their music to highlight the menace lurking within nature, particularly their home town of Olympia, Washington.
Across six albums, founding members and brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver have captivated fans, but Australian fans have hungered for a return since their only appearance on these shores in 2010. After an aborted 2018 attempt, the band engulfed the country in terror once again.
Gold Coast post-metal band Empress opened with their amplifiers humming. As the noise swelled, frontwoman Chloe Cox glided on stage, blankly staring at the crowd as she howled. The beat quickens from calm to tense, and Chloe leapt into the crowd. She screamed in the faces circled around her, ending her captivating performance crumpled on the ground like the microphone cord next to her.
Fury and beauty intertwined as locals Hope Drone engulfed the venue in black metal. Crooked guitars moaned through layers of reverb, growing to a lush roar. Sitting patiently, drummer Francis Keil leant forward and attacked, throwing in a blast of beats.
The band forcefully swung their bodies forward with every cymbal crash; vocalist Chris Rowden aimed himself at his mic, stopping his swing just before hitting it and screaming from his gaping mouth and into the chaos.
A jackhammer kick drum overwhelmed the speakers during Melbourne band KING’s set. Resembling Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Game Of Thrones’ King Robert Baratheon, frontman Tony Forde punched the air and growled rousing war cries.
As guitarist David Hill swung his hair around like a windmill, Tony climbed atop the stage barrier, balancing on the beam as he punched both fists in the air and wailed: “From the blackest of sky!” Before him, fists rose from the crowd – a sea of horns expressing their approval.
An acoustic guitar lick morphed into a brutal guitar chug when Wolves In The Throne Room began. Aaron Weaver’s hi-hat clinked like dragging chains, over which new guitarist Kody Keyworth rasped. As Kody threw his head back from his mic, Nathan Weaver stepped forward from the fog, hissing into the mic until it grew into a shriek.
The band’s black metal grew in speed, but any movement in the room was at a trudging pace. As Kody and Nathan’s fingers sped across the necks of their guitars, each slowly whipped their heads forward, their hair melting from their faces as they leant back. The audience stood still, but any sign of boredom was dispelled by the lack of blinking, heavily focused upon the noise assaulting them.
A thundering drum roll broke the spell of the pretty clean chords of ‘I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots’. The flashing lights revealed little of the mayhem occurring within the heavy blanket of fog, with blurred silhouettes hinting at hair thrashing.
While vision was low, fans continued staring at the clouded mass before them, the whites of their eyes growing as their eyelids widened, searing the spectacular scene of Wolves In The Throne Room before they disappear from our shores again.