By: Richard Maw
Having seen Winterfylleth once before (at the Black Heart in London whilst living down South), I had a fair idea of what to expect. My wife, having not been to any black metal show before had less of an idea, but as I said to her: “Well, black metal shows are just... different.” On getting to the venue (a basement club at the side of the horrific Merrion Centre in Leeds City Centre) I spotted two likely black metal candidates outside. I was just in time to hear this gem of knowledge from one bearded denizen of the black metal scene: “Black metal is NOT rock 'n' roll! Black metal IS BLACK METAL!” He was right, of course, but I cannot explain his statement any further than that.
Having arrived slightly late (huge apologies to the support acts Ninkharsag and Voices- we had been out of town all day and barely made it back to Leeds in time) we had managed to miss the first track or so, but on entry soon settled into a sweeping set of landscape and nature inspired black metal with slow moving melancholic melodies to go with the rolling blasts and more aggressive elements of the genre's sounds. Being as the tour is in support of the quartet's latest opus “The Divination of Antiquity” some of the album's diamond's were showcased- “Whisper of the Elements” being a stand out. The rest of the set matched old and new well with “The Swart Raven” making a welcome appearance. Things really peaked for me with the closing coupling of “Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain)” and “Defending The Realm” bringing shivers down my spine. Hugely evocative of the landscapes and people they eulogise, this was black metal at its live best. The band played tight and benefitted from a good live mix. Their “everyman” image belies the grandeur of their music. For me, the best black metal band in Britain.
Queuing up for a vinyl copy of the aforementioned “The Divination...” at the merch stand, it was only when I reached the front of the queue that I realised I did not have enough cash on me. Defeated, but exhilarated, I left the venue empty handed, but with my spirits lifted. Live music at its most distinct and best.