Text and Photos: Teddie Taylor
Louisiana doom sludge. Michigan grindcore. Washington ambient black metal. There’s a bit of everything for everyone.
“Play some better songs!” someone joked when Bryan Funck asked why the crowd wasn’t as intense as the one present for Thou’s 500th show two nights before. (It had been an insane, sweaty, anything but boring crowd.) A song later, everyone hummed “Happy Birthday” to bassist Mitch Wells’ sister – no singing was allowed to spare embarrassment. Thou possess the wonderful trait that is a sense of humor. On the other hand, their music is a one-way ticket to the gallows. You are engulfed in currents of apocalyptic noise. The words to describe seeing Thou in person seem insulting: vile, crushing, grimey, etc. Occasional eardrum shattering highs and ribcage rattling lows are attached to pestilent vocals. That’s not to say they don’t punctuate these moments with melody and glimpses of hope before reverting back to a solidly bleak crawl. Accept your frail, short life, float down the Mississippi and catch them in LA if you haven’t before.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with Cloud Rat. Self-described as “pro-vegan, anti-jerk,” (ironically, someone was eating a pepperoni pizza during their set) they care strongly about issues and, even more strongly, let their views bleed into each song. Roaming from classic, relentless punk grindcore to more doom-influenced sounds, every synonym of “exciting” applies to everything the trio does. Vocalist Madison Marshall sounds tortured, in the highest complimentary form of the word. Read her lyrics on their Bandcamp page after a show – they are vivid in their imagery and harsh in their honesty. As far as sheer output goes, their merch table resembled a miniature store stocked with what appeared to be their entire, massive seven year discography. Cloud Rat profess the ideals they stand behind in a way you cannot pretend to ignore.
Wolves In The Throne Room
The sheer decibel force of Wolves In The Throne Room was enough to cancel out any brain function. The core Weaver brothers have expanded to a five-piece for this tour, a decision that, based on these past four days of ringing ears, has made their already celestial-to-deafening tones more impressive. Contrary to most black metal outfits, Wolves forgo the popular incorporation of theatrics in exchange for total attention to their music. Without distractions, it was easy to become enthralled in the blue guitar lights and completely block out the surrounding environment. The six tracks they played seemed to hold everyone captive in an inescapable trance of auditory enchantment. The set could have been four hours long but, standing with eyes closed, time was inconsequential.