Tuesday, August 13, 2013


This concert was absolutely amazing. It was everything I was expecting and more. After meeting with the band, I went back outside, picked up some dinner quickly and went back to waiting in line. It was a split between two different experiences, almost as if I had gone home and come back the next day to see the actual concert. My two friends arrived and joined me in line and before long we were inside the venue.

I'd like to thank Starkill for putting me and my friend on the guestlist (I really got a lot of free stuff at this concert), which was quite a different experience. I'm pretty sure we were the only names on the guest list and it allowed me to bring a third person. After we were inside we went straight to the merch booth and I bought a Time I shirt for a friend that couldn't make it. All the Wintersun merch was awesome. Buy some if you're going to any of the other shows.

Starkill was up first and man did they get the crowd going. They had a huge amount of energy, constantly getting everyone to chant and throw up horns. It also didn't hurt that their songs were catchy and translated really well to a live performance. The crowd quickly woke up after only the first song and everyone was running, jumping and moshing right away. The Opera House is usually spotty for sound quality, with some concerts sounding really good and others just a mish-mash of sounds. The only problem I really noticed with Starkill was that their guitars were a little quiet, but that was turned up a couple songs into the set. It's a good thing too, because they have a bunch of crazy solos. New Infernal Rebirth and Wash Away the Blood With Rain were my two favourite performances. Overall they were my second favourite performance of the night and they definitely took away a significant amount of my energy (more on that later).

During one of their awesome solos.  
Arsis was up next. They're the only band I didn't listen to prior to the concert and sadly, they'll remain that way. They gave a decent performance but the aforementioned Opera House sound quality came back to bite them. The drums were way too loud and it drowned out most of the other instruments. It also didn't help that they had very little consistency in their songs. I don't know if it was just because I was watching it live, but it felt like every minute or so in a song they'd just switch up the riff to something completely different. I didn't know what tempo to headbang at for half the time, and that is just a terrible feeling. Their frontman looked like he was about to die for the majority of the performance. He was completely drenched in sweat and managed to make his guitar and the floor around him slightly more shiny. I checked out a few of their music videos before the concert and let's just say that this guy looks a lot older without his long hair. I swear, he looks like a father. That being said, kudos to him for giving his all. Even though he was sweating so much, he never missed a beat and managed to scream out every word with the same power. Arsis' bassist was also a great guy. He was constantly jumping around and climbing up on the amps at the front of the stage.

Just shredding and sweating away.
I was really excited for Fleshgod Apocalypse to come on. Apart from releasing an awesome new album in a couple days, they brought along an opera singer on the tour just to add to the sound. They have such a great blend of brutality and beautiful symphonic elements. Unfortunately, the Opera House struck again. All the sounds were just blended together and I could barely hear any of the vocals, guitar or piano. It's a shame because they brought along an actual piano to play on, not just a keyboard. The opera singer was drowned out for most of the set, but she actually sang along to every single song so that's a bonus. She shined during the clean vocals sections where she sang along with the bassist (and the crowd!). I was afraid the drums would overpower everything, but they drastically reduced the sound so that even the blast beats were a bit quiet. Don't get me wrong, they still put on a great show, but the sound was all a little off and it's really unfortunate that it had to happen to these guys. There were still many moments where just the symphonic parts were playing and it created such an epic atmosphere. Crowd favourite song The Violation was also beyond awesome. The moshpit was probably one of the most brutal I've seen and the band loved it, encouraging everyone to join in the fun. Fleshgod managed to finish on a high note with The Forsaking which sounded really good live. It was a great choice on their part. Oddly enough, none of us managed to take a decent picture of Fleshgod, but here's the best I could find.

It was a crowded stage when these guys were on.
And then there was Wintersun. The last thing they said to me during the soundcheck was "enjoy the show" to which I replied "as long as it's as good as last time". I forget who in the band said it, but they responded with "it'll be better!" and "well, it'll be longer". I couldn't agree with them more, their set was both longer and better than the previous time they visited (which I thought would be impossible to top). Jari started it off filming the crowd cheering with his (or someone else's phone), which you can now check out on Youtube, and then the band went straight into Sons of Winter and Stars. The crowd was nuts for the entire set, singing along to every single lyric of every single song. Especially great was everyone humming along to the main riff of Land of Snow and Sorrow.

Luckily enough, I was able to get (and keep!) a nice spot just a couple rows back from the stage. I was out of the way of the mosh pit, but it was still pretty crazy. Everyone was crowd surfing and jumping and singing and pushing every which way. I loved it. I loved it so much that halfway through Wintersun's set I completely ran out of energy. I have never been so exhausted in my life but I stayed at the front the entire set. I was just unable to sing along to most of the songs or jump around too much. As much as I loved the concert, I was actually kind of hoping they wouldn't come out for an encore just because I was so tired. Luckily, they played everything before they left the stage.

Jari and the rest of the band were so nice, always saying how great it was to be playing for us and pointing at different things in the crowd (like the huge Finland flag one girl brought). Afterwards they all came to the front of the stage to shake the crowd's hands and throw a bunch of souvenirs at us. Before the final song, Jari asked us what we wanted to hear and was met with a few "Time II" shouts and one guy who really wanted them to play Sleeping Stars. He kept yelling out the song title throughout the set. They never played it. They did manage to play every single other song in their repertoire though except for Sadness and Hate. Seriously, they played every single song except for two. They even played The Way of the Fire which sounded great live and made everyone really excited for Time II. There was even room for a Teemu solo and a part of a song that reminded everyone that there are actually good bands to come out of Canada.

Sound issues aside, this was a great concert. It seems like every concert I go to just keeps getting better and better. If this keeps up, I won't be able to walk for a week after the next one! Both of my friends (who admittedly haven't been to many concerts) loved it and asked when the next band I'm going to see is in town.

I want to thank Wintersun again for the amazing VIP experience and Starkill for the free tickets and getting on the guest list. I'll never forget this night.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Meeting With Wintersun

I haven't updated this blog in over a month and I'm running on about 5 hours of sleep right now, but last night was just so awesome and surreal that I have to write a blog post about it. I still can't fully believe that I was shaking hands and talking with Wintersun. They're all a bunch of great and down to earth guys who just happen to be Finnish and make amazing music.

I'm still not sure why I was picked over everyone else. I sent in my submission only a couple days before the winners were announced and I just look weird in my picture. The only info I got about the process was when Kai told me that their manager, Florian, was picking the winners all the way from Finland. Kai isn't picking them because he'd just choose the people here that he already knows, and what fun is there in that? Here's the picture of my ugly mug that got me picked. It was the best out of the 30 or so that I took.

We were told to be at the venue at 3 and text the tour manager to let us in. I got there about 10 minutes early and met Brett, the other winner, waiting outside. I have to admit, we were both extremely anxious. 3 came and left with no sign of the band, but it gave us a chance to talk about Wintersun and metal in general. A couple of other guys joined us as well, about to wait in line for 4 hours. They were from out of town and had nowhere to go before the show so they decided to just wait in line. They were nice guys but I question some of their decisions. There were also guys from the bands just walking around getting supper and stuff. One of the guys from Fleshgod even asked us where the nearest Starbucks was. I don't think there were any in the area though, unfortunately for them.

After about 40 minutes of waiting (and asking Jukka to let us in when he walked by), we were each handed an awesome backstage pass with a Wintersun "W" and escorted inside. Everyone was busy working to set everything up. There were 2 sets of drum kits and a piano on the floor along with a ton of amps. Kai was sitting at his drum kit on the stage just messing around. Even seeing him play random crap was entertaining. Him Jukka and Teemu started playing riffs and trying out some new sounds. I'm pretty sure they were playing a new song from Time II, I know you're all extremely jealous. Jari came out shortly afterwards and gave us a big wave (he really is the nicest guy ever). Then they ran through part of Sons of Winter and Stars and Sadness and Hate while we watched from the floor.

After everything was perfect, they all came out and shook our hands. We just stood in the middle of the Opera House chatting it up with Wintersun. We talked about a bunch of random crap like Canada, touring and everyone's old bands. They even handed us a bit of swag like signed drumsticks from Kai, a Wintersun flag and Wintersun picks. We of course did the usual things like getting our albums signed and taking a picture with the band, but only after Kai kept reminding us. We were so star-struck that we just kept forgetting all the stuff we wanted to do. I tried to be the level headed one (Brett must have thanked them at least 20 times), but the whole thing was just surreal.

Yeah, Teemu really is that short. For comparison, I'm a little under 6 feet. I won't hold that against him though, he's a pretty cool guy. So is Jukka, he just gives off an aura of cool. Everything from his voice to his sunglasses. Jari is just as you'd expect if you've watched any interviews with him. He also has the smallest hands of the group, which is a little interesting tidbit for all of you. And Kai is probably the most conversational. He seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to us and was really humble considering all the compliments we were giving him and the band as a whole. The whole band was just happy that we enjoyed their music so much.

When we were finished talking, Brett and I headed over to the merch booths (who were still setting everything up) to see if we could buy some things in advance. Kai and Jukka came over with us and even shuffled around the boxes a little bit to see if they could find what we were looking for. I bought a Wintersun wristband which I've wanted for at least a couple years now. They had some really cool merch too, like a Wintersun hat and shorts. If only I had unlimited money... Kai even hung around with us for a bit longer after we probably should have been kicked out and just talked about drumming.

I really can't compare this experience to anything else. Just a week ago I was listening to the debut album every single day on my drive to work and now I can say I've met the band. They are the nicest rockstars you'll ever meet and they put on a spectacular show afterwards. Thank you so much to Wintersun and all the management staff for putting this together, you guys rock!

You can find my full concert impressions right here.

-Zombie Viking