Behemoth played the Crtstal Ballroom in Portland, OR last night with support from Wolves in the Throne Room and At the Gates. This article will give you a quick overview so you can decide if you want to check them out when they play near you (yes, you do).

The Crystal Ballroom is a McMenamins establishment (these brothers seem to own half of Portland) which means quirky atmosphere, established rules, and very average beer. The ceilings are higher than your typical dive bar, but not high enough for flame throwers or pyrotechnics. The layout is a little odd due to the fact that it is an all-ages venue. The crowd is diagonally split and the non-drinkers are able to get closer to the stage. This makes some sense because that’s typically where the mosh pit is, and I’m sure they don’t want to clean up gallons of spilled beer. However, it sucks if you want to have a drink while also being close to the stage. From the looks of this crowd, I doubt it would have been much smaller if it were 21+. The kids one usually sees at a “core” show were nowhere to be found. This meant we had a real mosh pit… none of that hardcore flailing, picking up change, karate bullshit. This was the largest mosh pit I’ve seen in Portland, and it was as respectful as it was brutal. If someone falls a circle forms to help. Someone’s shoe was untied and I saw several of the largest moshers notice and form a barrier around them while they tied it.

Let’s talk about the music and the performances. Wolves in the Throne Room only got to play for about 20-30 minutes, so it was a huge let down. I was just getting into it when they had to leave. If you aren’t familiar, they are grim black metal from WA. Their shows can be a bit overly serious, but it set the tone well.

Next up, At the Gates took the stage to play some melodic Gothenburg metal. They sound the same as ever. In fact, I’m not sure if they have changed much at all over the years. The set was straight forward and a nice warm up for the main course. I found it a little boring, but At the Gates was never a band I got into.

Behemoth took the stage just after 9 PM. I don’t want to spoil the show much so I won’t cover every detail. They combine showmanship with musicianship. They don’t do everything live, there were a few minutes where they merely performed to an ambient track (mainly the intro and exit). Nergal’s vocals were spot on. Every growl, shout, and… louder growl were just as brutal and clear as they are on the albums. As for the stage show, I hope you like fog and dark costumes. Fog cannons accent some of the more dramatic moments, blast beats, heavy hits, etc. They also changed costumes several times, depending upon the song/album. The pope hat (above) was only used for “Bartzabel”. I don’t imagine it would be easy to play the heavier songs in that thing. Speaking of songs, I’ll post the songs played from each album, but not the setlist in order. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Setlist taken from Setlist.fm. Click here to spoil everything.

  • I Loved You at Your Darkest 5
    • Bartzabel
    • Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica
    • God = Dog
    • We Are the Next 1000 Years
    • Wolves ov Siberia
  • Evangelion 3
    • Daimonos
    • Lucifer
    • Ov Fire and the Void
  • Demigod 2
    • Conquer All
    • Slaves Shall Serve
  • Satanica 2
    • Chant for Eschaton 2000
    • Decade of Therion
  • The Satanist 2
    • Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
    • Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer

    The sound quality was pretty good, but perhaps a bit loud if you were down front (the room is huge, so the sound needs to reach the back). The highs were a bit shrill at times; after I threw in my wax earplugs it sounded a lot cleaner. Overall, the mix was solid and the guitars were very pronounced without being over-modulated into oblivion. The drums were also mixed well and every hit was registered. The same was true for the vocals. Let us know how it sounded in your town.

    The verdict… I’m going to rate these on a distance scale.

    Behemoth: Worth driving 150+ miles.

    How far would you drive?