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.


  1. Nice impressions, I didn't dig Varg as much as You did but maybe because it was just after Trollfest's show. I need to see Eluveitie live sometime, it is one of these bands that I know I need to give a proper listen to but I haven't yet. For Wintersun I totally agree, Winter Madness would be a lot better than BAT, in moments between the songs on Heidenfest people were constantly screaming "Winter Madness, Winter Madness!" but they didn't play it. I was also hoping for Sleeping Stars but that would be a bit too much for them to play :P But I don't complain, hearing both Starchild and Sons of Winter and Stars and both Death and the Healing and Land of Snow and Sorrow was amazing.
    My new Wintersun's t-shirt (the one with golden logo and some fantastic "something" on the back) replaced my old Sonata's tshirt as my main "every gig" t-shirt :D

    Did You get Your album signed? As I said before there was a great chance that Winterguys would go out to see the fans

    1. Yeah, though Winter Madness would have been great, it's hard to complain about what they did wrong when they did so much right. Plus they could always be saving songs for their Time II tour. :P

      Nah, unfortunately I didn't stick around afterwards. I did really want to just thank Jari for an awesome show and awesome album, but hopefully he'll read this post or something, haha. My friend had to catch a bus, so he couldn't really stick around, and I was already pretty tired like I mentioned. Plus everyone else that I knew at the concert left right after Wintersun finished. It would have been great to meet the band, but the concert itself was already pretty great so I don't feel too bad about missing the opportunity.

  2. Varg is from Germany. Also, the name means wolves or something.

    1. And you should buy their stuff from the merch booth.

  3. too bad turisas didn't play to holmgard and beyond that night.......

  4. Awesome report, totally agree on Varg. I liked them a lot better live. I was one of those who spent the $30 only for Wintersun though I stuck around for Eluveitie :P

    1. I enjoyed reading your impressions too :) I can tell you were only there for Wintersun, haha. Though that's pretty cool that you got to hang around and meet the band.

  5. Haha, I am guessing the embarrassing story of VARG never got through to the US. Good for them, bad for you.

    1. I searched the internet and couldn't find any "embarrassing stories". So I guess it wasn't all that embarrassing..

    2. Yea, just some minor controversies but maybe there's more than that, my Deutsch is getting worse and worse over the years and I don't understand much of it now :D

    3. Actually, it's still a big thing over here but was probably only discussed in Germany since they weren't really known overseas yet.

      It all started when a picture of Freki, their vocalist, that appeared on the internet. It's him wearing an ABSURD t-shirt:

      Once the picture leaked, he pretend it was an old picture and that he wasn't involved with the Nazi-scene and that it was all just about juvenility and trying to cover it up by lying and making false statements. Apparently that was a lie and people of the NSBM-scene got pissed and revealed the truth.
      He had been very involved with the scene, even meeting Möbus and sucking up to him. There were more revealed stories (like him singing nazi-songs with fans after gigs, etc.) Some festivals even kicked them after that and Wacken for example would only let them play if they made an offical statement about it.
      And what happened then is the most embarrassing thing. They did the statement and were allowed to play their gig there. They pretended nothing like that had ever happened and suddenly shouted all the "fuck off Nazis" paroles and changed their image completely.
      Reason? Money and fame, obviously. You will stay underground and won't get famous in Germany AT ALL if you're involved with any NS-stuff. But now that they go more popular and tasted the smell of money...

      Yeah I think you get it. Even though it's a long story made short ;)

    4. Wow, I didn't realize. I remember reading somewhere that the band had denied any ties to Nazism, but I didn't know there was a whole story behind it.

      Thanks for sharing.

    5. Merry Christmas man! Stay metal in 2013 and brutalize the planet with music :D Also check Gunsen's fb page, if you want to be included in Pathfinder's video, follow the instructions he posted there but before 29 December

    6. Merry Christmas :D

      Haha, it seems like so many bands now are asking fans to be in their videos.