Earlier this year, Norwegian black metal legends Taake announced a short east coast tour with North Carolina’s Young and In the Way and Minneapolis’ Wolvhammer as support. Fortunately for us west coasters, the tour added a second leg which stopped by San Diego’s Brick By Brick on June 10. The venue was full of rowdy metalheads ready to see Taake’s first Southern California performance since the band’s 23 year existence. Apologies to local support Mythraeum for not catching their set.
Wolvhammer were the first band on the tour package to take the stage. After seeing vocalist Adam Clemans’ performance with Skeletonwitch in North Park earlier this year, I was eager to see him play with Wolvhammer. Unfortunately, the band was incredibly underwhelming, especially considering the high-octane package they were a part of. Slow music can be successful for bands that incorporate extreme elements in their music but Wolvhammer’s set missed the mark. There were passages of the music that were catchy, but were then drawn out and repeated to the point of boredom. Vocalist Adam Clemans sounded like he sang one note for the entire show, and his over-exaggerated stage antics felt contrived. It was a treat getting to see longtime Goatwhore drummer Zack Simmons manning the kit for their set, but he, as well as the gentlemen on guitar and bass, seemed to ooze apathy. Maybe I’m missing the Wolvhammer mystique, but I expected way more sonically and aesthetically from an ensemble that tours with the likes of 1349 and Origin.
Young and In the Way followed shortly afterwards and promptly exploded onstage with a hard-hitting sound that matched their volatile, dangerous vibe. The stationary crowd soon erupted into a raucous mosh pit, leaving rabid headbangers and photographers to occupy the front rows. While still a relatively new band, Young and In the Way’s showmanship was refined far beyond their years. Frontman Kable Lyall (as well as the onstage guitarists) made incredible use of the stage, and drummer Randy Baucom possessed an incredibly punishing presence on his kit. Every song was a vigorous, aural assault that pummeled the audience with raspy screams, dismal guitar chords, and punishing breakdowns. With more than enough ruthless material from the band’s two full-length releases as well as various splits and EPs, Young and In the Way delivered a set that left me both dazzled and terrified.
After Young and In the Way’s grueling set, Norwegian black metallers Taake (pronounced Taw-kuh) later began their dynamic headlining set. Diving right into “Nordbundet,” the band couldn’t have sounded closer to the record in both sound and presence. While Taake is the brainchild of solo mastermind Hoest, the live musicians as well as Hoest did an excellent job bringing the sound and charisma of the records to life. Blast beats, vocal screeches, and even a banjo at one point (during “Myr”) resonated throughout the Brick By Brick. Young and In the Way’s vocalist Kable Lyall even joined the band for a blistering cover of GG Allin’s “Die When You Die.” Hoest’s vocal patterns and body movements were borderline supernatural, as he commanded a massive amount of stage presence and volume control that was above par even for bands of their caliber. The bass tone was punchy, the drums were crisp, and the guitars were just the right amount of scratchy to help create an almost palpable ambience of darkness.
Fortunately, the band returned for an encore of “Det Fins En Prins” to properly close out the night. Taake performed with mesmerizing precision and kinetic aggression that reinforced why the band is a benchmark of extreme music. Those in San Diego were incredibly fortunate to witness such a spectacle and it hopefully shouldn’t take the band another 23 years to come to our town again. Major thanks to the Brick By Brick for hosting such a special event as well as Lone Wolf Productions for the photos.