Metalowa Wigilia 2016
17-18th December 2016
Warsaw / Gdańsk, Progresja Music Zone / B90, Poland
Words and photos: Oscar Wendt
FULL PHOTO GALLERY BELOW
What does come to your mind when you think about the last weeks of December? Christmas tree? The shopping rush? The omnipresence of pretentious Christmas adds? Forget about all that, as it has become a tradition that every year, Massive Music treats us with Metalowa Wigilia, the ultimate celebration of the best metal tunes there are! Being extremely tired of all that arduous Christmas atmosphere, I travelled to Poland to witness some decent black metal. This year, Metalowa Wigilia expanded into two day and I had this pleasure to experience both Warsaw and Gdańsk concert. Because who would turn down the opportunity to hear Mayhem and Watain twice in one weekend, each performing their opus magnum – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Casus Luciferi? However, I’m not going to lie, I was there mostly for Furia that together with Au-Dessus and Morthus supported the headliners on both nights. The package, however, turned out to be incredibly efficient on many levels. Why? Find out below…
Both shows, in Warsaw and Gdańsk were different. Very different in fact. The Saturday Warsaw show in Progresja Music Zone attracted a lot of people, I mean a lot! (you know, the capital). It was much messy and crowded but it did not stop me from enjoying the bands at all. The next day in Gdańsk it seemed to be more, I don’t want to say quiet, but a lot of things have seemed to be more in place. Plus the venue! B90 is honestly the best place I’ve ever been to in terms of sound, lights and the general layout of the venue which definitely appeal to me. However, let’s concentrate on the music itself…
Opening act surprises like that are always more than welcome! This Lithuanian group is a new creation and, with their 2015 EP album, they defined the post-black metal quite well. They turned out to be very minimalistic on stage – Au-Dessus’ performance concentrated on music and, with no unnecessary distraction, crushed the audience with some slow and heavy riffs. The hooded creatures bathed in the heavy fog gave the whole start of the night a good feel. The melancholic overtones were absolutely fantastic and had that profound ambience which I always adore when seeing a band live. Oh, and how happy I was when I found out that I have the Au-Dessus’ album in my collection at home already! I guess it will be visiting my player more often now…
The second act on both events was the Polish Morthus, the black metal quartet which has debuted this year with the full-length album, Over the Dying Stars. Immeasurably changing the vibes in comparison to the opening band, Morthus has brought the death, suffering and the unholy cult on stage during both shows! There was a lot of energy in those youngsters and it was great to see some of the devoted fans’ reaction to Morthus‘ dynamic and very aggressive music. I must admit that I was not entirely convinced to the band when I listened to their album before the shows but their performance changed it 180 degrees! All those little solos and catchy riffs sounded absolutely natural and introduced to old school vibes to the venues. The primitive character of Morthus combined with the rather professional approach was really nice to observe. If you get the chance to witness Morthus in action sometime next year, do not hesitate to do so and embrace the energy of pure hate and naked chests! Anyway, it was an excellent change of tone at Metalowa Wigilia and it prepared me well for the best on both nights.
My personal climax of the year. It was honestly something that I was getting excited about for the good several months before travelling to Poland. It was my own unofficial headliner of Metalowa Wigilia! Am I exaggerating? Maybe… But the performance which this Silesian quartet is always putting on is something that I always find difficult to describe with words. The self-acclaimed nekrofolk music differed Furia from the other bands and I think it opened a lot of eyes on both nights. Especially on the second night, in B90, the atmosphere was mystical, even transcendental… Starting with the outstanding Kosi ta Śmierć, the band soon decided to present the latest material from the last month’s offering – Księżyc Milczy Luty. The choice of songs might have not surprised me but Zabieraj Łapska with its hypnotizing bass line and the blasting outro was more than enough to make me think that in spite of its unusual character, the new material works perfect live! And Ogromna Noc… Well, I think it has already become the classic which will electrify each Furia’s performance. Warsaw performance had some shortcomings due to sound, but the show in B90 on the second night was flawless in my mind. I might have missed some older material of the band, but the expected has definitely happened – the concert went straight on my list of the best gigs of 2016. The night was young and the headliners were still to play, but I felt fulfilled. I keep saying that Furia needs to be witnessed live. It’s just one of those bands. Period.
Casus Luciferi in full? Yes please! The second album of this Swedish horde was in my mind a very good option which I honestly didn’t complain about. The impressive pre-show ritual has put everyone to the stand-by mode, ready for some proper Scandinavian black metal. As soon as the first riffs of Devil’s Blood stormed from the stage, Erik started to go mad. Again, the show in Gdańsk was much clearer and much more enjoyable. Soon after being sprinkled with the blood by Erik, I left the photo pit and concentrated on the show. Puzzles ov Flesh, which is my personal favourite track from the album, made me bang my head a little bit pleasing my mind and soul. However, Watain has left me with a reflection about the black metal in general – is that grandiloquent show and the envelope of the atmosphere essential for the good music? Is that what honesty is about? Immaculate musicianship is one thing but the feel is another aspect which matters to me. And no, Watain did not impose its spiritual message on me but I certainly did enjoy Casus Luciferi heard in its entirety.
When you think about Norwegian black metal, what is the first album that comes to your mind? I bet many of you would include De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in the top 5 or 10. I would. This is why I was thrilled to be able to witness the whole album twice in one weekend. After all those years I still haven’t worked out what’s so special about this album, but songs like Freezing Moon or the title one always send my mind on a long trip far away from the existing world. But it might be just me. Anyway, the heavy fog shrouded the stage (hence poor photos), and the band has started the ritual. As soon as Atilla joined his comrades, the morbid vocals reached our ears. During Freezing Moon I was still in the photo pit but it didn’t stop me from embracing the evil of the song and experiencing it from so close. The malevolent spirits continued to overwhelm the stage as Mayhem carried on with De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas which turned out to work pretty well as a live album played in full. The band, however, has left me with the similar feeling to Watain. Flawless musicianship, the unquestionable icon, but isn’t this nowadays just a money making machine? I’m not trying to disregard the Mayhem’s awesomeness but there was something missing there. Also, in spite of the dedicated album show, I was still expecting the band to finish their time on stage with the immortal Deathcrush or Chainsaw Gutsfuck. Oh well, next time…
The shows went exactly as I expected with Furia being the band of both nights. Massive Music have done a good job with putting this line-up together and combining Mayhem and Watain with Au-Dessus, Morthus and Furia. I am always really happy when after a show, I can really have a nice feeling about opening bands that in this case worked for me in 100%. Each band presented different approach to extreme metal and this is what made Metalowa Wigilia 2016 so engaging. Time will tell us, if Massive Music manage to create something so thrilling next year but all I know is that spending time in Poland at the end of December will be my tradition and a jumping-off place saving me from all that annoying Christmas atmosphere.
copyright: The Goat Tavern