April 13th was a Saturday I’d been waiting for a couple of months because tonight’s show marks the return of Ypres, the Saint Petersburg-based sludge/post metal quintet which absolutely crushed Mixtape 5 in October 2017. This time traveling along with them were Wowod, a newer band, which has already been making waves in the darkest corners of the current Russian scene and sharing the stage with foreign favorites such as The Black Heart Rebellion or their country-mates Materic.
Now the show takes place at Fabrika Avtonomia, our brand new favorite spot in Sofia. For the past two years it has become not only a safe haven for all kinds of political and social activities but also a preferred place for DIY shows, ranging from ambient and noise to punk, crust and black metal underground. I’m on spot few minutes before 9 pm. There’s already a pretty nice crowd at the venue, including people who’d come from outside the city to see our Russian guests. Through the speakers we hear blasting Brutus, which is a Belgian band I’m quickly reminded that I need to check out. Mitko is always strict about the schedule so it doesn’t take longer before Wowod grab their instruments, the lights are turned off and the band starts.
Wowod’s music is a mixture of blackened hardcore, modern doom metal, atmospheric black metal with long drifting shoegaze passages. Reverb-drenched low-pitched voices open the pits of hell right before our eyes. Northern cold creeps through the venue. I look around and see the faces of the people in the crowd. Punk kids, metal kids, techno kids, we’re all immersed in the harsh snow storm that is bursting out in front of our eyes. Wowod don’t play a short set but it feels like it passes in the blink of an eye. Next thing I know is they put down their instruments. Lights are on again and the drained audience goes out for the pause.
Knowing the ins and outs of touring, Ypres don’t waste any time to set up and are on shortly. Mainly because of the presence of a second guitar, they feel louder and monumental. No matter if they play a fancy bigger venue like they did in 2017 or the small DIY heaven that is Fabrika Avtonomia, they offer a crushing journey through the depths of post-metal with their grandiose tracks that undergo through multiple phases. From sludge to doom to shoegaze, it’s all there; born and raised in the depths of Saint Petersburg and smuggled to Bulgaria for our twisted pleasure. I watch their set from the back of the room while the people in front are moving and dancing. Everybody’s in their own world and Ypres are their guiding light in this experience.
After the show we walk home and we talk that you can actually count on our fingers the Bulgarian bands that have reached Russia, but somehow our brothers there always manage to reach us on their travels. I hope this continues, because there are so many worlds we have to share—here or there, it doesn’t really matter as long as it becomes reality.
All photos by George Chelebiev.