The Ecclesia Diabolica America 2018 e.v. Tour, Live at House of Blues Dallas!

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The Ecclesia Diabolica America 2018 e.v. Tour, in support of Behemoth’s new album “I Loved You At Your Darkest” kicked off quite early, leading to those in the lengthy lines for House of Blues Dallas to miss a good portion of, if not all of, Wolves in the Throne Room’s set. Unfortunately for me, I was one of those people, coming in at the last 20 seconds or so of their final song. When venues strictly enforce policy of no metal objects and more than half of the crowd shows up wearing spikes / metal emblazoned battle jackets… sometimes these things just happen. I think I’d rather be a little late than a little stabbed, an unfortunate part of black metal culture that the staff professionally prepared for.

Despite the setback, I had plenty of time to prepare for metalcore heroes and veterans At the Gates. Opening their set was the epic and emotional acoustic intro Der Widerstand, played over the PA as they jumped straight into the title track from the same album, “To Drink From The Night Itself”. The epitome of catchy, I don’t think there was a moment throughout the set where I found myself NOT at least mildly bobbing my head. Vocalist Tomas Lindberg didn’t seem to go a second without a smile on his face, and I can only imagine after doing this so long, that may not be the easiest thing to do every night but he managed regardless. I always note when a band seems to have as much fun as they are, and it’s even moreso impressive to see this level of high energy in a band that’s been going for almost 30 years.

Pumping fists and encouraging the crowd to follow suit, they led circle pits, played solos back to back, lifted the mic stand overhead and ran all over the stage. Another huge notable move I love seeing is when the guitarists and bassist can match each other and headbang in sync, showing how in tune with each other they all are and bringing the quality of performance to another level. Constantly interacting with the crowd and hyping them up, they kept their energy high all the way to the end, slowly fading out with the clean outro from “The Night Eternal” while a single guitarist and bassist faced one another, sealing their set with a final intimate moment.

Setlist:
Der Widerstand (On PA)
To Drink From the Night Itself
Slaughter of the Soul
At War With Reality
A Stare Bound in Stone
Cold
El Altar del Dios Desconocido
Death and the Labyrinth
Heroes and Tombs
Suicide Nation
The Book of Sand (The Abomination)
Blinded by Fear
The Night Eternal

Headliners Behemoth took their time coming to the stage, and a horrifying ambient note played over the PA as the curtain fell and final preparations were made. A children’s choir would sporadically break the monotone note, piercing and haunting the darkly lit room with blasphemous chanted lines from the new album’s intro song, “Solve”. After an intense and lengthy buildup, the intro track began playing up until the moment that distorted guitars grew from dim to bright, and the massive curtain dropped to the floor for all the members to take the stage. Following along with the intro track, drummer Inferno pummeled his toms and led the band into the song “Wolves ov Siberia”, and once the stage was illuminated, revealed all of the members wearing black half face masks. I’ve seen Behemoth a few times over the recent years and I emphasize heavily.. this is the most terrifying and powerful they’ve ever been. Upping the already intimidating stage presence worked wonders for them; I caught myself smiling due to the fantastic performance but also fitting atmosphere provided so late in October. Removing the masks for the next song, Daimonos, they moved through their set and never missed a step in providing a continously heavy ambiance. Between songs, Nergal brought out an offering of incense and gestured toward the crowd in an almost mockingly religious manner as is customary of Behemoth’s performances.

As the track “Bartzabel” began, guitarist Seth played the clean intro until Nergal rejoined the rest of the band in the headdress similar to that of the Pope seen in their recent promos and music videos. The level this band goes to immerse those in attendance cannot be stressed enough. Between flinging guitars into the air and slamming them back down in sync with the massive smoke effects for “Ov Fire And the Void”, reading off quotes and inspirations behind songs, or changing the backdrop dramatically to that of the Triumviratus, the warlords of free thought made each and every movement count. Eventually moving to where all members took position on high risers, the lights shone brightly on a bloodsoaked Orion as Nergal’s rockstar persona made itself more evident than ever leading into “Slaves Shall Serve”.

As the set neared the end, the massive Orion donned an immense feathered headdress for the performance of yet another masterful album closing track, “Lucifer”. As Lucifer faded, “We Are The Next 1000 Years” seeped into the instrumental album closer “Coagvla” through the PA, with the members disappearing into the darkness only to return to all 4 silhouettes standing in a line, beating a drum in sync with the final moments of the song. Upon the final strike, smoke poured into the venue and the band disappeared, concluding their performance and marking yet another overwhelming memory of how perfect this band is.

 

Setlist:
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Ov Fire and the Void
God = Dog
Conquer All
Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica
Decade of Therion
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
Lucifer
We Are the Next 1000 Years
Coagvla

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