NYC’s celebrated Gramercy Theatre was host to a plethora of true metal fans of various stripes, from denim jackets to hipsters to black t shirts to hairbags. The occasion was the inredible package tour of Witch Mountain, Ecstatic Vision plus headliners Yob and mighty black metal/prog legends from Norway, Enslaved. The tour is a celebration of much of what is good about metal right now, deep roots of Yggdrassil extending into the past, present and future.
I was really excited as I’d yet to see any of these great bands live. I’ve been an Enslaved fan since my artist pal Simon Ampel gave me a mix cd years ago with “Entrance Escape” on it along with Malevolent Creation (who turned out to be racists, unbeknownst to me and Jewish Simon at the time, so I never listen to them anymore).Enslaved, however, have left a long lasting impression on me and were pretty much my introduction to black metal. Their viking/Bathory influence interested me a lot more than groveling in the dark for Satan bands and since they have remained a tour de force for pushing metal into new territory. I love their new stuff as much as the old and it was so fucking cool to finally bask in their onslaught.
It was awesome to see the marquis saying “Enslaved Tonight”, like some crazy bondage party was about to go down. It was also cool to catch up with metal scribe Kim Kelly who was holding down the merch table for Yob.
Witch Mountain were up first and Kayla Dixon, the new vocalist, had the job of winning over the toughest crowd of snobs in the world (NYC music fans). Uta Plotkin was a tremendous talent but Kayla amply filled her shoes and people were talking about her all night! At first she seemed a touch nervous and admitted as much at the merch table later but she ended up killing it! I’d say Dixon has a more soulful voice than Plotkin, who is a bit eerier. Kayla kind of stalked the stage like Angela Bassett making grim, contorted faces in American Horror Story one minute and suddenly her face looking like a quite sweet and comely model the next. It was very theatrical. It will be awesome to hear what she brings to the next Witch Mountain record. Kayla really brought the massive sound the band was putting out down from the rafters and into her body, channeling it out in stark wails.
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“Getting to play NY was awesome! I guess you could say that NY holds a special place in my heart,” Kayla told me. “I’ve wanted to be on Broadway since I was like 5 years old. I never thought that my first time performing there would be in a metal band! Last night was an amazing experience and I was completely blown away by YOB and Enslaved last night! Really looking forward to the rest of this tour.”
Ecstatic Vision are pretty trippy and I believe someone said they have a connection to the much missed A Life Once Lost, though I could be wrong. I was catching up with friends during a lot of their set but it had a quirky, kind of acid rock retro feel.
Yob were a wall of spiritual feedback, just owning the room. “Marrow”, almost everyone I know’s favorite track from masterpiece Clearing The Path To Ascend, was straight up mesmerizing and a revelation of tempo, life pulse and waves of sonic power. “Atma” was another highlight of the lenghty (yet only 4 or 5 songs, haha) set. The title track of that album was beastly live and thundered in triumphantly as the crowd roared in recognition.
Enslaved made jokes that they never burned churches (the crowd gave a hearty boo at that, it is NYC!). The legends did a set that spanned their career with some of the highlights especially being new stuff from incredible 2015 record In Times. “Thurisaz Dreaming” is awesome to me in that it reminds me of older hyper fast black metal Enslaved ala Frost combined with their more proggy inclinations, while the marching riffs of “Building With Fire” heralded growth from detsruction. “Burning With Fire” is a metal anthem if ever there was one, just so strong. The keys and melodic vocals enhanced the charging tempo and many heads banged in agreement. It was new but still my favorite of the set. “Death In the Eyes of Dawn” from RIITIIR was another amazing live choice, stark and slow like the onset of a cold morning.
All in all it was an unforgettable show I’ll look back on years from now and proof metal is alive with wolf piss from hell coursing through it’s veins, never to be stopped by false losers. Hahaha! \m/
Thanks to my old chum Matty Rice for helping take some of the live pics.