Friday, December 28, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ELUVEITIE and WINTERSUN Concert Impressions

As I'm sure you already know, Wintersun (along with Varg and Eluveitie) are currently touring through North America. For Wintersun and Varg, it's their first time here ever. Unsurprisingly, the shows are selling out left and right. The show I went to was one of those sold out ones, and man it was packed. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Opera House is not a big venue. But when Wintersun was playing, it was wall-to-wall packed. It was great.

When my friend and I finally made it inside (there was also the biggest line I've ever seen), we headed straight to the merch booth. There was no way I was going to leave another concert without a new t-shirt. Once again, we were met with another one of the biggest lines I've ever seen. By the time we made it to the front, Varg was already on stage and playing. Though I did get me a sweet Wintersun North America tour shirt. I have not taken it off since.

Except to take a picture of course!
Varg was a great way to kick off the show. They're one of those bands that sounds a lot heavier when they play live (same with Eluveitie), but they still sounded very good. The band just had good stage presence. They also reminded us quite a few times that they were Varg. From Germany. And we should buy their albums and t-shirts. Which I would have, if Wintersun had somehow completely sold out of merch. Varg made sure to play their most recognizable songs (ie their songs that have music videos) from their newest album, Guten Tag and Was Nicht Darf. Despite the lack of a mosh pit, the crowd was pretty into it. Toronto crowds are always great, and this concert was definitely no exception. As for my final thoughts on the band, they were very... German. It was great.

The sound quality was also great for this concert. Opera House is pretty inconsistent in that regard; sometimes it has great sound quality and others you can barely make out the band over the double kicks. Maybe the venue replaced their speakers recently, I don't know. Or maybe they just had to crank up the quality because Wintersun was playing. Either way, it was really nice.

The crowd was already going crazy for Wintersun the moment Varg left. There were even cheers when the banner was raised behind the stage. There was never any doubt in my mind that the majority of the crowd was there for Wintersun. It was around this time that the venue became wall-to-wall packed as I described before. The notes started playing, the band came out to Sons of Winter and Stars and everything just melted away. Seeing Wintersun play doesn't feel like you're at a concert, it's an experience. The song sounded the exact same as it does on the album. It just added to the experience when the crowd started singing along and everyone threw their hands in the air. I mean, normally I'd be pretty uncomfortable being pressed up against the wall, but it didn't bother me much here.

The Opera House looked something like this.
Over the course of their set, Wintersun played the entirety of Time I (intros and everything) and some songs off the self titled album like Battle Against Time and Starchild. Though in my opinion, and this brings me to my only complaint, they should have played Winter Madness instead of Battle Against Time. Wintersun songs have a tendency to incorporate tons of different sounds in them. It shouldn't all work together, but it just does. And like I said before, many of the songs they played sounded exactly like they do on the album. The only thing that didn't really translate well live was the songs with constant blast beats, like Battle Against Time. The problem is actually that Kai is good at playing drums and can do proper blast beats, which means that they're all that can be heard when he's doing them, blocking out the rest of the song. This is of course a minor complaint. Wintersun is definitely the best band I've seen live and I'd buy tickets to their next show here the moment they announce it. I didn't take any pictures or videos of Wintersun (or the rest of the bands) since I was too busy enjoying the show, but here's a video of them playing Time.



It was nice seeing Eluveitie because half the crowd had left by that time. At that point, the crowd was as dense as it is at normal concerts. There were still quite a few people there, mind you, but I could actually move a couple feet to either side. The band took quite a while to set up, for really no good reason. They brought out Chrigel's little hangar of tricks with all the instruments that he played strapped onto it. It was cool seeing what he'd pull off of it at any given song. The instruments included a small harp and a flute. Then the roadies took away Wintersun's drum kit and replaced it with... not much. Eluveitie's drum kit consisted of a snare, two or three toms, a single bass drum, a high-hat, ride and crash cymbals and nothing else. Being one of the most customizable instruments, and with Eluveitie consisting of so many different sounds, it was an interesting choice to say the least. They had more of a drum kit the last time I saw them.

Elueveitie is definitely one of the heavier folk metal bands around and they know it. Chrigel was constantly trying to make the (already large) mosh pit larger and larger. It all culminated in one of the biggest walls of death the venue could hold after he stated that he wanted it "to look like Braveheart". Anyway, the band played the entirely of Helvetios. It's not a bad album by any means, it's just a lot to take in at once. Just a constant barrage of melodeath. That's sort of what Eluveitie's set felt like. It definitely wasn't bad, and they are actually also one of the better bands I've seen live. It was just that, after Wintersun, I had already spent a lot of my energy and Eluveitie kept wanting me to give more. I did however eventually make my way to the front of the crowd and got a pretty good view of the show from there.

The folk elements were alive and well in the songs. They were definitely louder than the previous two bands, but it didn't take away from the performance much. The songs that worked the best were the ones that had flute and violin playing the same parts since it was much easier to distinguish between the folk and the metal. The most surprising part of the whole set though was during The Siege. My mouth was wide open when I realized it was Anna who was doing the screaming vocals alongside Chrigel. Between that and the clean vocals during Rose for Epona, I have to say that girl is talented. And she can play the hurdy-gurdy. Bonus. See the video below for some Anna. After they finished Helvetios, Eluveitie took a quick break and came out for the longest encore ever, playing songs from their previous albums. It wasn't an Eluveitie show unless they played Inis Mona! The songs all sounded good, and it was interesting to see how much the band has changed over the years. They even played that unreleased song that they included on their most recent compilation. And it sounded pretty good live.


The entire concert felt more like an experience than a show. Every band was amazing. The only downside to that though is how much energy it takes out of you. There were definitely some people who were moshing and stuff the entire time, but the crowd was noticeably more quiet after they had finished all singing along to Death and the Healing. I guess that's why it's better to have unknown local bands start off the show sometimes. But yeah, everything was good. Everyone should have an idea by now about how Eluveitie is live. Wintersun is like listening to the album with hundreds of people. Varg is also a very good live band. And they're from Germany. Buy their stuff. In fact, buy Wintersun's and Eluveitie's stuff too. Every band on this card should be supported to no end, they're all amazing.

-Zombie Viking

Also, I'd like to give a shout-out to the guys wearing the bear costumes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pathfinder... Or is it Catfinder?

Just thought I should post this. How many bands do you know of that have this many cats? None, I bet.


METAL IS ETERNAL
LIKE EARTH, FIRE, WIND AND WATER

-Zombie Viking

Monday, December 10, 2012

Metal Mondays: Fleshgod Apocalypse

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there aren't enough symphonic death bands. There's Septic Flesh, uh... Eternal Tears of Sorrow? Ex Deo? Maybe Wintersun depending on how loose your definition of death metal is. That was until this great Italian band came along!


Fleshgod Apocalypse
Country: Italy
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal

Fleshgod is a very interesting band. I have no idea what their name is supposed to mean or how the band managed to explode onto the scene. They've only been around since 2007, releasing their first full-length in 2009, and I've already heard of them! How great is that? They must be pretty proud of themselves. Though as a band with a unique sound like theirs, it's hard to stay unnoticed.

Fleshgod's first album, Oracles, was a standard brutal death affair. It was alright, but I don't listen to too much straight-up death and Benighted already did what they were trying to do better. Perhaps it has some of the elements that make Agony so awesome, but I haven't spent much time with the album nor have any desire to, so I'm not sure. Agony, however, combines the unrelenting death with a wonderful symphonic score. The two sounds are so different, yet compliment each other so nicely. And they have audible blast beats! They're such a rarity that it always pleases me when I can actually hear the snare being violently beaten. Most bands have drummers where you can only hear the cymbal being hit, completely defeating the purpose of a blast beat. Not so is the case here.

Why is every picture of them in suits?
The only thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the singing bassist. It worked with Dimmu, it worked with Nightwish, but it just hurts the music in Fleshgod Apocalypse. Paolo Rossi isn't a bad singer by any means, it's just that he can get very high pitched. The whole thing just distracts from the rest of the song and doesn't really add anything. In some songs it's alright (The Hypocrisy), but in others it just gets annoying (The Violation). I'm sure it could turn out well in future albums, but some work needs to be done at better incorporating his voice into the songs.

All in all, Fleshgod Apocalypse is a very interesting and unique band. Check them out if you want something different or just want to hear some brutality.


-Zombie Viking

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Forums are Not Metal

When it comes to metal discussion, forums just don't do. While looking for something to occupy my time with, I've checked out a few. MetalArchives and Reddit come to mind for what I've found. I'm sure there's others, and some official forums of bands (which may actually be better), but I don't really have a desire to look them up.

yawn
The problem is that there isn't really too much to discuss in terms of metal. You can state how awesome a band or album is, or experiences at a festival or.. something. But blogs are so much better suited for that! I would rather read a metal blog than have to drag through a boring online conversation. I'm not even sure why this is. You can talk about metal in person easily enough, comparing your favourite bands and concert experiences to someone else. Maybe it's the added emotion and ability to describe. And having less people in on the actual conversation. It's nice talking to just one or two people as its a more personalized story you're hearing. I can get an overview of a concert from an article or a blog post, I don't need twenty people fighting about if the band was good or not.

So in my opinion, if you're going to read about metal, check out a blog instead of a forum. Of course mine is highly recommended, but some of the more popular metal blogs (which can easily be found on google) have some pretty cool things that mine lacks, such as interviews with bands. I'm not going to name any names, because they probably wouldn't endorse me back, so find whatever suits you.

Stay metal.

-Zombie Viking