Concert Review: Wilderun, Aether Realm, Lightsbane & Xenosis at Cook’s Cafe in Naugatuck, CT
What happens when you sandwich symphonic folk metal between metalcore with a melodic death touch? One hell of a diverse and entertaining show, that’s what. Let’s not waste time, and get right to it.
Xenosis opened up first, going full throttle in delivering a blistering performance. These New Haven metallers mixed brutal riffs and breakdowns with some serious melody lines and just a hint of djent. No slow songs or other nonsense would suffice to kick off an evening of extremity, and Xenosis made sure everyone was paying attention in a matter of moments.
Next up was Aether Realm, bringing their breed of extreme metal all the way from North Carolina. They often proclaim that they are not from Finland, but that’s only because their sound could easily be mistaken for one of Scandinavia’s best. From “Swampwitch” to “One Chosen By the Gods,” the band stormed through their set of blackened symphonic folk metal with the force of Thor’s mighty hammer. Lest you doubt their credentials, lead vocalist and bassist Vincent “Jake” Jones performed while draped in the skin of a goddamned bear. If that doesn’t tell you that these guys treat folk metal as serious business, I don’t know what will. Aether Realm truly killed it with with searing riffs and skin-flensing solos; Odin himself would indeed be proud.
Boston’s own Wilderun followed up, as part of a regional tour with the aforementioned Aether Realm known as “WildeRealm.” Despite both bands playing folk metal, they couldn’t sound more different. Wilderun leans more towards the melodic and sweeping orchestral side of the folk metal genre, but that’s no slight against them. Furthermore, they eschew the expected European folk tales in favor of those found right here in America. Their performance featured songs like the heavy yet atmospheric “Suncatcher” and the majestic “The Dying Californian,” with everything punctuated by impressive songwriting and musicianship to match. Alternating between clean vocals and death growls is a natural fit for their music, never once sounding forced. Wilderun are forging new territory in American folk metal, and their set proved that they are masters of their craft.
Bringing it back home was our headliner for the evening, the local legends known as Lightsbane. Their melodic death wall of sound finally pulled the last of the stragglers away from the bar and right up front. A twin guitar assault pummeled the audience’s senses, but their sense of humor is what really sets Lightsbane apart: the Ansonia band played songs dealing with such heady subjects as dead cats and Meat Loaf’s daughter. Whether the lyrical content accurately reflects these themes is largely irrelevant; their metal is nothing to be trifled with. Lightsbane proves that you can take your extreme music seriously, but still be laid back and have a great time.
Finally, kudos must be given to the soundboard operator at Cook’s Cafe. (I would’ve gotten his name, but he seemingly disappeared by night’s end.) He was an expert at getting the mix just perfect, which allowed all four bands to sound their absolute best. Every note, riff, growl, and drumbeat was clear as a bell. Seriously, the sound here was better than I’ve heard in most clubs and larger venues. It was a shame that more people didn’t show up, but it was their loss. There’s no finer way to spend a Friday night than experiencing some live metal!
Xenosis and Lightsbane are here to stay, and for the rest of you around the East Coast, make sure to check out the “WildeRealm” tour when it stops in your area (view the remaining dates here). None of these bands disappoint, so prepare yourself for quite an evening.
*Stay tuned for our interview with Wilderun