Live Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Gaerea and Mortiferum at EartH, Dalston, London (31/05/24)

EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney), a multi-arts space, isn’t the first venue that comes to mind when thinking of a night of blackened metal. Yet, darkness has fallen over Dalston in London as the mighty Wolves in the Throne Room have arrived, with support coming from the vibrant Gaerea and the moody Mortiferum.

The latter is up first and shroud the mind in blackness with their brand of doom and death. The sound in EartH is a little iffy, nice and loud, but lacking the nuances to make Mortiferum expand. The doomier aspects of what they do, in particular, when they really slow it down, sounds good, but the faster and more chaotic death side gets a bit muddy.

What starts off interesting, ends up becoming a bit lacklustre as it goes on. Something not helped by the stoic stance of the band and their total lack of crowd interaction. Aside from speaking some song titles in guttural fashion (meaning no-one can understand a word), it’s all very serious. Yes, we know, it’s dark and evil music, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look like you were enjoying yourself.

Truthfully, and I take no pleasure in saying this, I was bored by the end of Mortiferum’s set. Their time on stage felt double the length it was.

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Which is in complete contrast to Gaerea, who delivered an absolute masterclass in forward-thinking black metal. Not just challenging the freaking narrative around the music, but kicking the doors in and screaming in the faces of doubters. At Bloodstock 2023, they blew me away and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the chance to see them again.

I think they were better here. Which is saying a lot because they were so good at Bloodstock 2023.

It’s not just the songs, even though we got to hear the likes Mantle, Deluge, Null, and Mirage. As well as their latest track, World Ablaze. It’s how they perform and how they inject so much life and personality into their shows. All without facial expressions or eye contact because of the coverings they wear.

It’s a show stealing performance with wild heaviness, massive amounts of moving melancholy, and tons of energy. In complete contrast to what came before, and what comes afterwards. While there are some in the venue looking a bit disgusted by Gaerea, the majority are having an absolute blast and that is certainly reflected on stage. Next time, Gaerea are headlining a show like this.

A 45-minute set that felt like a five-minute set. I whispered to my wife that I thought Wolves in the Throne Room were in trouble having to follow that. She dismissed that as, you know, it’s Wolves in the Throne Room, but I think I was right. Even though the black metal legends put on a mighty fine performance. It’s just hard to go from the heart-racing and fun aspects of Gaerea, to the deadly serious tone of Wolves in the Throne Room.

I’m not going to moan about them getting on stage and banging out track after track in similar fashion to Mortiferum though. Simply because Wolves in the Throne room are so much better. Not just delivering a strong showcase of black metal, but a strong showcase of atmosphere too. Evident by the choking dry ice that covers the entire venue throughout their set.

A set that covers plenty of their immense black catalogue, even if everyone is left wanting more. The Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge album is the showcase though and the likes of Beholden to Clan and Twin Mouthed Spring sound huge.

The thing is, everything Wolves in the Throne Room do, sounds huge and even when they’re at their most atmospheric sounding, they still hold a heaviness that makes for a tension-laced experience. On any other night and with any other band, they would be untouchable, it just so happens that Gaerea came before them and nearly an hour into Wolves in the Throne Room, that’s who I’m still thinking about.


  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Wolves in the Throne Room, Gaerea and Mortiferum at EartH, Dalston, London (31/05/24)
  • Wolves in the Throne Room - 8/10
  • Gaerea - 10/10
  • Mortiferum - 6/10
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