» Blog Archive Wolfheart Make Triumphant NJ Debut -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Tours

Wolfheart are one of the best bands that North America doesn’t know about yet. There’s a chilling atmosphere to the Finnish band’s brand of melodic death metal that the scene doesn’t get to see that often and one that melo death would be much better off with more of rather than it being commercialized. Perhaps dissolving his other projects was the best decision he’s made, as founding member and visionary Tuomas Saukkonen has made Wolfheart into a force of nature, cathartic and emotional, yet brutal and more crushing than a glacier of ice falling on top of you.

Many a European band struggle to make it to North America, and maybe it’s Saukkonen’s years of contacts in the music industry, but Wolfheart have made it over in five years of being a band, and that’s impressive.

Opening for seasoned vets like Carach Angren and Mors Principium Est seems like a solid bill to gain the band exposure in North America, and surely the fans of Wolfheart feel like it’s a worthy investment too see them. Despite the opening slot, despite condensing four albums into six songs… It was worth it.

Packed into New Jersey’s Stanhope House, there was little to no room for the band – or audience- to breathe and not invade someone’s personal space. While concert halls and other venues might actually allow for some room, everyone moved forward with giant strides to be close to the band, who had only “stage” monitors separating them from the crowd. Personally, I loved this. Being up front, in the face of this arctic melo death fury was the way to experience it, ad that’s something a stage cannot convey. I’ll assume the band is used to actual stages, but for what it was worth, everyone attending just knew they were feeling something special.

Even still, with some stage props up front for the band to stand on, band members found themselves nearly touching the roof of the venue, but going right into the audience as they kept the energy going. Frequently – and fortunately never annoyingly – did the band members soak their heads in water and give the classic windmill headbanging trick, all the while giving everyone up front a face full of water. Perhaps Danzig should try this to keep people from filming their set?

Now, as far as it goes being an opening band and not effectively knowing what your fanbase looks like in North America, you undoubtedly need to condense minimal and not set to six songs and hope you appease your fans. Fortunately, Wolfheart did just that. I like to think the band took a lot more notice from people with 2015’s Shadow World. That seems like yesterday when I bought the CD on the whim that I knew they were opening for Insomnium, but a lot of people worldwide took notice from that. So fortunately, hearing songs such as “Zero Gravity” and “Aeon of Cold” were all that you needed to feel satisfied. Yet even the choice cuts from the new album, Constellation of the Black Light, were incredibly satisfying. “Breakwater” is an instant melo death classic.

But truth be told, I was most impressed with how clear everything was in the venue. Guitars and bass were very much audible over the drums, and the backing tracks were perfectly leveled to sit appropriately with the band. I got the chance to speak with Saukkonen briefly after their set, and apparently the backing tracks crashed twice? I’ll be real with you: I hardly noticed. Granted the synths and arrangements are important parts of the song, but there was so much engagement between the band, their music, and the audience that I hardly noticed they weren’t playing at times. Now if that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what does.

It’s getting harder for European bands to tour North America, but I honestly can’t wait for Wolfheart to make their way back to the New Jersey/New York area. The small, intimate set in a tight space was more than a treat. Given time, I hope for an even bigger bill for the band, and hopefully a longer set for them to give a wider display of their discography thus far. Remarkable set, and a class act to be sure.

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