Wovenhand, Subrosa, King Woman @ Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, (USA) – 16 September 2017

A darker edge to Americana.

The genre-bending Coloradan band Wovenhand is currently on tour with doom metal groups Subrosa and King Woman. They played at the Kung Fu Necktie for their Philly stop, but were given an early show. A concert at 6:30? It was a Saturday, but the night was way too young. The Necktie was having a show afterward, so this one had to by over by 9. This lineup felt too big for the meager Necktie, but you gotta work with what you got.

Opening the show was doomgaze band King Woman from San Francisco. Right away what stood out was the deep register of singer Kristina Esfandiari, which has been a point of contention. She sings much higher in the band’s debut LP Created in the Image of Suffering, and some people online have been criticizing the vocal change. I do appreciate both styles, though the deep singing only works in a live setting when you’re physically there. At times it can sound like yawning, so I get the criticism, but I was mesmerized by it. It was a very different approach from what is out there in the doom scene. It really felt in sync with the instruments and was a different side to doom. Very woeful and full of melancholy. But relaxing at times too. Their set ended with her vocals being looped in a frenzy. Definitely something you don’t usually see and hear at even a metal show.

This was my second time seeing Subrosa, the first being Psycho Las Vegas 2016. They definitely have one of the most unique sounds in metal. This time they were withut their second violinist, Kim Peck. I did miss that extra umph the twin violin section gave. They were given only a half hour set, which was criminal. Their lengthy ethereal numbers deserved more time! They played two tracks in total, “Black Majesty” and “The Usher”. In the limited amount of time they got, the band crushed it. Their chaotic dirges are always a treat, particularly being blasted after their soft intros. Sarah Pendleton‘s gentle voice mixed with Rebecca Vernon‘s more rough vocals provided a wonderful contrast, which also describes their soundscape in a word. It is full of beauty and sorrow, lightness and darkness, mellow and heavy.

Wovenhand finished off the show with a 50 minute set. That was probably short for them too. I actually briefly caught the end of their set at Psycho Las Vegas last year as well, but this was my first time really witnesses them. I’ve read that they’re country, but they really weren’t that country to be honest. Mostly in the vocals and the fact that frontman David Eugene Edwards looks like a western outlaw. Their tunes were pretty interesting. Not something I’d usually spin, but very enjoyable. The group was almost like a heavy metal version of folk music. A darker edge to Americana. It did start to get a bit old samey for me by the end of their set though. I’m sure unfamiliarity was a factor there.

This was an interesting eclectic lineup. I can definitely see how these bands were put on the same bill. There is a through line, a continuity of sorts between them. These groups break down genre barriers and trail blaze across music scenes, doing their own thing.

About Spencer (148 Articles)
Spencer Maxwell is a filmmaker and devoted metalhead. His favorite genres are heavy and doom metal, with his top bands being Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Candlemass, Pentagram, and Saint Vitus.

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