Photo by Fotis Maras
I put on my slippers and my aviator glasses and off I went, butt naked, to watch Agalloch’s show. It is still August, the month I dislike for various reasons, but thankfully the last ten days have been cooler. I arrived at the venue early, picked up a nice cold coffee and looked around. There were people already waiting outside. I looked up in the sky, the narrow part between the tall buildings and an eagle flew above me. The signs were positive. I went in, expecting to see my friends and fellow nerds, sitting, probably exhausted since they were also at the show in Athens, and discussing beaches, tans, jobs and metal.

The guys from the two bands, CROWN and Agalloch, were scattered around the place, resting or working on their gear, preparing themselves for the show. Agalloch have a strong fan base in Greece and from what I learned, the show in Athens was really good with a lot of people attending. I knew that Agalloch would play a two hour set, with songs from “Pale Folklore” to their latest release “The Serpent And The Sphere”. CROWN on the other hand, I did not know. Just a couple of days before the show I streamed a song from their second album, “Natron”, that has just been released, and from what I’ve seen it is now available for full streaming via their page over at bandcamp. So, go on and listen to them.

The venue was starting to fill with people and after I grabbed my first beer, the first of many, I went to the center and waited for CROWN to begin. They were three at the front and the drums were programmed. Now, CROWN have a familiar sound, such as Neurosis and Cult Of Luna and a number of other bands that create this thick and heavy wall of sound. I’d say that CROWN are closer to the sound of COL, meaning that the aesthetics of their music is of a colder and desolated nature. Their sound was huge and deep and I was moving with the hypnotic rhythm. What I really enjoyed was that they succeeded in dominating the venue with their music. The images that were created in me were of a post-apocalyptic urban landscape. Deserted, slowly deteriorating, with no sign of human life. This is where I had my first thoughts about their performance. The lead singer needs to work on his clean vocals. The backing vocals were nicely put inside the music, making the narration part of the world they created. On the other hand the lead vocals were at the front, leading the music. I don’t think it is suitable for their kind of music. I would prefer it if they were part of the music, like the narrator being inside of a story and not leading it, thus maintaining the feeling of desperation. But I was moved by their music and loved their show. I will listen to their new album.

After their show we had a small break, ten to fifteen minutes, enough time for a second beer and a cig, to prepare ourselves for Agalloch. Now, I will say this beforehand, just to get it out of the way. I have never created any emotional connection with their music. It doesn’t move me. And that is fine by me and adds to the diversity of music. Not every emotion can be reflected and communicated on the same length between people. It is part of being different. The reason I clarified this is because my description will lack emotional reference.

The guys lit up some incense and a tom was sitting alone at the front of the stage, which made me think that we might listen to some of the folkier songs from them. We did, as they had a playlist that included songs from the entirety of their catalogue, “The Mantle” included. The sound was very close to that of the last album, only with a more rock feeling to it. Just more organic, making their songs sound energetic and less of an introspective walk, alone in the wilderness. That was a good choice since it is a live show and it is better to help the fans express themselves rather than sit silently with their eyes closed.

The attendees were excited at times and tried to communicate with the band, while other times where silent observers. No mosh pit, obviously, but they were emerged into it. The solos and the lead guitars were dominant. The voice was exactly like the albums, which makes me think that they record it this way. The feeling and the natural expression from the band allowed a connection to be created. The lead guitarist, for example, was really into it, swaying his guitar, singing along, living it rather than playing it.

The only, slightly negative aspect of their show was the sound of the drums. I would prefer the drums to be a little lower in the mix. And that is it. It was made clear to anyone why Agalloch have created such a strong reputation around their live shows and two hours later everyone was satisfied. I felt content and appreciative for what I experienced and I would recommend to anyone, given the opportunity, to watch both bands.

The show was followed by something that I did not really expect. We ended up at a bar for a couple of beers, listening to some metal and I returned home at seven in the morning. Think one small beer every thirty to forty five minutes and do the math. This was a good way to end a night. After a fulfilling show and a long night where we combined air guitaring to “Blinded By Fear” and chatting about the Greek economic crisis and our complete lack of future, going to sleep in the morning was a natural result.

May we live long and do that many times again.

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