Published on May 22nd, 2018 | by Mackinlay McBride0
North of the Wall Festival – Warm Up Show
Up tonight at the Garage we have the warm-up show for what is arguably Scotland’s premier extreme metal festival, North of the Wall. It seems this year the promoters have been making every effort to impress, with tonight’s line-up opening with Úir, who, while a relatively new prospect, play with the gusto of a band that aim to leave a mark. We also had the pleasure of special extended sets from the rarely seen local heroes, Saor, and the fast-growing international act, Sojourner, finally getting together for their debut performance. Not bad at all for what is being billed as a warm-up!
From witnessing Úir open, I have no doubt in my mind that they will make a proper breakthrough with their next release, as their talent simply cannot be questioned. They offer a particularly intense atmosphere that differs to the more folk-based sounds of the night’s other acts, with piercing, almost depressive screams and rather surprisingly technical drums for the genre which add to their sound greatly. Their debut release, Tein-Éigin, has been recently re-released by China’s ever reliable Pest Productions and is well worth a listen for anyone looking for something different to the standard atmospheric black metal fare.
Next up were Scotland’s very own Saor, who offered a stellar performance. The opportunity to play an extended set was not wasted, featuring a setlist that took cuts from all three of their highly regarded albums, highlighted by the fan favourite, Roots’ Carved in Stone. While it is a shame that they no longer feature the talents of multi-instrumentalist, Oliver Stuart Böhm, to fill out their live sound, their reliance on a backing track does not bring down their performance whatsoever, with Lambert Segura’s violin playing being a plentiful inclusion. After journeying through older gems such as Aura and Farewell, it was after leaving the stage for a short period that Saor returned with Tears of a Nation, which majestically brought their set to a more than satisfactory close.
It was no doubt a massive night for the international act, Sojourner, playing together for the first time. It could be said that they’ve been thrown into the deep end with such a long set, however they came prepared and revelled in it. Their sound was packed out by an added third guitarist, flautist and a keyboard played, and while there were some aspects of their performance that could be worked on, especially compared to such a tight unit as Saor, they should be commended for pulling off such a stunning first performance, due to the level of organisation behind it. It must be said that Homeward is without a doubt the greatest Summoning song that Summoning never wrote. Hopefully tonight’s performance will not be the last we see of Sojourner onstage as they have more than proven their worth to the scene.
While tonight’s lucky revellers got to experience special extended sets from both Saor and Sojourner, that may have been too much from many other artists. It seemed as if they could have both played on for hours due to the incredibly warm reception they received, and not a moment was wasted. A special mention however should go to Úir, who are no slouches either, and if there’s any justice in the world, they’ll hopefully end up on the same level as tonight’s headliners as their career progresses. Atmospheric black metal is a genre that can go either way, although there is an abundance of quality, and tonight we’ve been lucky enough to witness three of the best acts that the style has to offer. Do not sleep on any of them.
Photos by Lewis Allen