Kreator - Celtic Frost - Legion of the Damned - Watain Wulfrun Hall - Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK - March 15th 2007 By Philip Whitehouse I had a pretty well-formed idea that the Wulfrun Hall I walked into on the night of this particular gig was going to be possessed of a somewhat different atmosphere than that which I had turned up at a mere fortnight before, when I caught All Shall Perish supporting Bleeding Through. There were no pint-sized girl-pants wearing scene kids asking the beleagured merch guy for skinny-sized T-shirts, for one thing. For another, the place was only half-full. So, metalcore and stuff is 'big' in Wolves. Apparently, black and thrash metal isn't. Oh well - I got to take some decent photos from up front this time round. So, Watain then. I've been hearing about them a lot, as I suspect many reading this website have. Their latest release, Sworn to the Dark has been getting rave reviews (9 out of 10 and Album of the Month in April's Terrorizer, before UM colleague and unofficial Terrorizer historian Nathan Pearce mentions it first), and the Swedish quartet have been impressing mightily live too. I missed the first couple of songs due to a work-related late arrival, but it was clear that the group were a commanding presence. Tearing through high-velocity black metal anthems with laser-guided precision, surrounded by banners and sigils and a couple of neat inverted-crucifix-candle-holders, and generally coming across as far more intense than anyone has a right to be at 7:15 in the evening, Watain nevertheless struggled to motivate the arms-crossed brigade clearly here to see Celtic Frost and Kreator and no one else. Gamely attempting to win the crowd over by throwing the outro to 'Creeping Death' onto the end of one of their furious salvos of tremolo-picked savagery, Watain managed to win a small but appreciative portion of the crowd over by the end of their set and the guitarist/vocalist's roared entreaty to "PRAISE SATAAAN!" Legion of the Damned followed this, and to be perfectly honest, I had never previously heard of them. Following their set, I have to regretfully report that I'm not likely to rush off to swot up on them now. The Dutch quartet (alright, so I did a little research) weren't bad as such, more that they came across as somewhat nondescript. Their full-steam ahead thrash came across as rather one-dimensional and monotonous, an inadequacy not particular aided by their reliance on a single-guitar set up. A lead guitar could open up some possibilities, but as they are, Legion of the Damned have neither the killer riffs nor the songwriting dexterity to truly command the listener's attention. For the most part, amusing song titles such as 'Werewolf Corpse' are the highlight of the set, at least until the guys hit something approaching a groove with the catchy vocal hook and more crunching rhythms of their titular track, 'Legion of the Damned'. Shame it was their last song, really. Close, but no cigar. Now, this was where the evening really began for most in attendance. In fact, the heretofore rather underwhelming number in attendance actually went up by about 20% at this point, as a legion of crustier metallers decided to venture forth from the safe havens of the local pubs (with their non-plastic pint glasses and rather more reasonable prices) to finally drag their asses to the venue. But who can blame them - it's Celtic Frost, man. The band take the stage, swamped in an eerie green glow, and launch like a slow-motion swandive into an initially funereally-paced 'Procreation of the Wicked'. We're nearly hypnotised by the lysergic crawl and guitar drone before, almost subliminally, we realise that the tempo is gradually increasing... increasing... increasing... And before we know it, necks are being wrecked, and classics are being flung at us like fragmentation grenades. 'Circle of the Tyrants', 'Dethroned Emperor', 'Into the Crypts of Motherfucking Rays' - all received with adulatory cries and much headbanging. A few tracks from monumental comeback album Monotheist are also aired, and it's a testament to that record's quality that the likes of 'Ain Elohim' are received as warmly as the standards. It's good to you back, boys. After a somewhat extended intermission to allow for the set-up of a large projector screen, thrash legends Kreator take the stage to raucous (and by now, fairly drunken) applause, and waste no time in knocking the audience flat with the one-two punch of 'Violent Revolution' and 'Enemy Of God'. The projector screen shows the appropriate music videos where available, or creepy vignettes of mutilated-body artwork and the like the rest of the time. The pit has literally fucking exploded, and hip-length hair is flying everywhere. And Kreator couldn't look more chuffed about it. Mille constantly urged more from the crowd, exhorting for bigger pits, more screams, even delaying starting up encore track 'Flag of Hate' because we weren't shouting "Hate!" sufficiently loud for his satisfaction. By anyone's standard's, it was an excellent showing, although the monumental heaviness of Celtic Frost's performance did eclipse the Germans somewhat. That said, the scene kids don't know what they missed.