My initial decision to attend this event was based purely on the fact that Wode were the support. Wode are a band that never fails to deliver, so if the other bands impressed me, then it would be an added bonus. Both Wayfarer and Ofnus were new to me, and I decided not to check them out beforehand as I hoped for that impact you get when you discover something new and exciting, and Wayfarer and Ofnus both delivered that for me.
Wayfarer – Wode – Ofnus
The Junction, Plymouth – 30 April 2023
Photography: Keith Conlin
Words: Jools Green
First up, Wales’s own Black Metal sons, Ofnus, consummate professionals to the core, not flinching when, on announcing, “We are Ofnus from Cardiff, Wales,” and some wit randomly replied, “Mooooo.”
I was even more surprised to discover that this was only their third live show, with their fourth scheduled as an appearance at Bloodstock later this year. Their set of engagingly Atmospheric Melodic Black Metal opened on Burned By The Soul Of The Moon, which won me over to their side within the first half of that track.
Ofnus followed with The Endless Grey, Fading Dreams, Grains Of Sand, Exulansis and finally, A Thousand Lifetimes, all delivered superbly. I was specifically impressed with the way the acidic, harsh vocals cut through the melodic elements. The haunting leadwork was sublime, and the drum work was equally impressive.
Definitely a band to keep an eye on, and I believe a studio release is in the pipeline, which is sure to be worth everyone’s attention if this performance is anything to go by.
In complete contrast, delivery-wise, Manchester’s Wode, undeniably one of the UK’s best Black Metal bands currently, opened with explosive force, unleashing their brutally engaging set uncompromisingly to delighted cheers.
Beginning with Lunar Madness from 2021’s Burn In Many Mirrors, followed by Serpent’s Coil also from Burn… moving swiftly onto Celestial Dagger and Temple Interment from 2017’s Servants Of The Countercosmos.
Wode then surprised us with a new track, the title of which went unmentioned but filled myself and no doubt others with excitement at the prospect of a new album on the horizon. Then returning to Burn…. for Sulphuric Glow and Trails Of Smoke from their 2016 self-titled first album.
Wode ended on another mysterious new track. All were delivered with dark, driving intent. You always get a lot of music for your money with Wode. They fire one track after another at you, which is part of their live attraction for me.
Their delivery from all band members is always flawless, and vocalist/guitarist Michael Czerwoniuk impacting on the power of his vocal delivery with wide-eyed, unnerving stares into the void as he projects his vocals forth with menacing intent, adding to the whole atmosphere of the performance.
Our intrepid photographer Keith stamped his seal of approval on their performance as he emerged from the pit, smiling, saying to me, “They get better every time I see them!” He is not wrong.
I don’t envy any band that has to follow after Wode. They set the bar astronomically high, but headliners, Colorado’s Atmospheric Black/Folk Metal fourpiece Wayfarer, rose to the challenge brilliantly, even more impressive given they were on the final date of a four-week UK tour.
But nothing was jaded about tonight’s performance, with songs inspired by nature, history and the American frontier. This was a set that included tracks drawn mostly from their two most recent releases, including The Crimson Rider (Gallows Frontier, Act I), The Iron Horse (Gallows Frontier, Act II) and Vaudeville from 2020s A Romance With Violence and The Dreaming Plain and Animal Crown from 2018’s Worlds Blood.
Performance-wise, they did surprise me, in a positive way, greatly, leaning much more into a blackened sound than I expected but with a melodic edge, which “Our Keith” described as “Ethereal.”
This complemented the twin acidic harsh vocal delivery, the folk element coming more from the lyrical content than sound. Judging by their reactions, they also seemed to make a very positive impression on everyone in attendance.
Once again, a superb turnout from the South West Metalheads, with quite a few travelling across the two counties to attend this event, making the effort to keep the live underground scene thriving.