Primordial, While Heaven Wept and Cormorant at Empire

Primordial‘s tour came through town and Wednesday the 12th of September found me back at Empire in Springfield, Virginia just two days after seeing Obituary, Broken Hope and Decrepit Birth there (see my post on that show here). The first band I saw Wednesday was Cormorant, a sort of proggy, melodic metal band from San Francisco. They played a long set but since there were no local openers for this show I suppose they had the time to. They were pretty good live and I liked how they mentioned that one of their songs, Blood On The Cornfields, took place in Virginia as it was about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion and subsequent execution in 1831. Like the other bands on this tour their songs were long, but they kept it interesting and I wasn’t bored at all. The second band to play was While Heaven Wept, which is loosely based in the Northern Virginia, however some members live outside of the area. They drew the biggest crowd of the night probably due to their friends coming to see them play since this was their first area appearance in many years. I’m not sure how to describe their sound, it had some elements of power metal and prog and even some thrash and goth parts. I didn’t mind the music so much but frontman Rain Irving’s voice just didn’t do it for me. I’m sure there are some people that really like that style of clean singing but personally, it isn’t my thing. I’ve got a video of them from this show posted below so you can make up your own mind. It should also be noted that, according to the Metal Archives, While Heaven Wept’s guitar player Tom Phillips was once a member of the NSBM band (that stands for National Socialist Black Metal, aka Nazi black metal) Grand Belial’s Key. I refuse to cover or promote bigoted bands on this site and I don’t think While Heaven Wept are a bunch of racists but I thought it should be noted that at least one member of the band has ties to that nonsense. I don’t know the guy personally and maybe he has changed his ways, or perhaps the Metal Archives are simply incorrect but that’s the info I have.

UPDATE: Tom Phillips replied in the comments below, which I will quote here as well, to clarify his association with GBK and I’m inclined to believe him. I hope this makes things more clear for everyone.

Woah dude. Let’s get something clear immediately; yes, I was once involved with the first version of Grand Belial’s Key backing them up on keyboards…this was during the demo era, which was strictly LaVeyian/Anti-Christian Black Metal; that version of the band ended in the early 90′s when Lord Vlad left to join Ancient…the band was done/over/defunct. Fast forward several years and Gelal formed a new version of the band that had more extreme views and lyrical content. I personally had nothing to do with this 2nd incarnation, and it should be noted that While Heaven Wept is neither religious nor political in any way at all; all of our lyrics for the past 23 years are based upon real-life experiences and emotions – and it would be greatly appreciated if this were made clear. Metal Archives does not know or tell the whole story, and while I am proud to have been part of one of the first American Black Metal bands, neither myself nor anyone in WHW have anything to do with NSBM or fascism of any kind. – Tom Phillips

Anyways, let’s move on to talk of the headliner…

Primordial is an Irish folk/black metal band that has some truly epic songs that, to me at least, really separates them from the less serious mead chugging bands that seem to be dominating the folk metal genre these days. Primordial’s set list (see it here) featured a lot of material from their latest album, Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand, which was fine by me since I love that album. This was my first time seeing Primordial and the band’s frontman, A.A. Nemtheanga, was a true showman. He kept the audience constantly into the show and he seemed to always be up to something on stage, be it posing dramatically or walking right up to the audience and sharing the mic. Unfortunately the crowd thinned out considerably after While Heaven Wept finished playing when most of their local friends left. Sucks for them because they really missed a hell of a performance by a band that doesn’t tour the US very often. The show ended on a very high note with the entire crowd going crazy and singing along with the chorus line on their closing song, Empire Falls.

I’ve posted lots of photos and a few videos of each band that played the show below. Some of you might have noticed that Arkansas based doom metal band Pallbearer was playing at the Rock & Roll Hotel the same night Primordial was at Empire. I knew I couldn’t make it to both shows on the same night so I caught Pallbearer at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia last Saturday (the 8th). They were very heavy live but if you asked me which show was better now that I have seen both I would definitely have to say Primordial. September is a busy month full of some great metal concerts so be sure to check the upcoming concert calendar, get out to a show and support the scene you’re a part of!

Cormorant:

Nick Cohon of Cormorant

Matt Solis of Cormorant

Arthur von Nagel of Cormorant

Arthur von Nagel of Cormorant

While Heaven Wept:

Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept

Rain Irving of While Heaven Wept

While Heaven Wept at Empire

Rain Irving of While Heaven Wept

Scott Loose of While Heaven Wept

Jim Hunter of While Heaven Wept

Primordial:

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Ciáran MacUiliam of Primordial

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Pól MacAmlaigh of Primordial

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

7 Comments

  1. What they hell is wrong with people that they walk out on the headliner? Esp. PRIMORDIAL!!! If that show had been in Baltimore or even DC, I would have been there in a heartbeat. I hate driving from work in Balt City to Empire on a work night. Tried it. Won’t do it again. Can take 2 solid hours.

  2. Yeah, I don’t get people leaving either, since that was easily one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen.

  3. I really don’t get the walk outs, since they started intense and just kept going. One of the best live shows of the year.

  4. Woah dude. Let’s get something clear immediately; yes, I was once involved with the first version of Grand Belial’s Key backing them up on keyboards…this was during the demo era, which was strictly LaVeyian/Anti-Christian Black Metal; that version of the band ended in the early 90’s when Lord Vlad left to join Ancient…the band was done/over/defunct. Fast forward several years and Gelal formed a new version of the band that had more extreme views and lyrical content. I personally had nothing to do with this 2nd incarnation, and it should be noted that While Heaven Wept is neither religious nor political in any way at all; all of our lyrics for the past 23 years are based upon real-life experiences and emotions – and it would be greatly appreciated if this were made clear. Metal Archives does not know or tell the whole story, and while I am proud to have been part of one of the first American Black Metal bands, neither myself nor anyone in WHW have anything to do with NSBM or fascism of any kind. – Tom Phillips

    • Your comment has been noted and I’ve updated the post to reflect it. Thanks for your clarification as I thought this seemed odd.

      • Cheers! I appreciate it. The fact is I didn’t write a single note or word for GBK – I just played keys for a handful of live dates. Further, not only have I addressed this at length in the largest public forums in Germany the last time this was brought up (and I assure you they take NS VERY seriously there), consider we are on Nuclear Blast Records – the largest German label period…they wouldn’t associate themselves with anything or anyone where there was even a shadow of a doubt…and further, my ancestors were persecuted by nazis during WW2… politics and hatred have never been part of anything I’ve done musically. And for the record, the other bands with vague ties to GBK such as Twisted Tower Dire also have nothing to do with anything of a fascist/political nature. – T.P.

  5. Great photos esp of Primordial. I’m always too busy headbanging or moshing to take any pictures XD For some other folk metal bands that don’t sing about mead, I suggest Moonsorrow, Falkenbach, Forefather and Eluveitie.


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