Children of Bodom/ Eluveitie/ Revocation/ Threat Signal @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON, February 27, 2012

18 08 2013

Although I’ve been away for a bit, I haven’t stopped writing. I will be posting a few older reviews here for prosperity’s sake. As usual, this review was originally written for use and published by Hellbound.ca. You can check out the article along with photos of the gig by clicking the link: http://tiny.cc/pmzz1w

I will preface this review by saying one thing: my teenage self would have absolutely loved this show. That’s not to say my adult self didn’t enjoy it of course, but standing there inside the Sound Academy, feeling the crowd’s surging, voltaic energy around me, all I can remember thinking is how much more stoked on life I’d be if I was still seventeen.

It’s funny then that my first live encounter with openers Threat Signal came at a time when I was saying goodbye to those years, celebrating my 20th birthday at a small venue in Hamilton. Six years, three albums and a major label signing later and Threat Signal have come a long way from that dingy club basement in their hometown. On the Sound Academy’s big stage vocalist Jon Howard was just as energetic as I remember, easily commanding the eager crowd despite the early start time. Their latest, self-titled album as well as the sophomore release Vigilance made up most of the set, resulting in a solid performance that shone with polished aggression.

Once Revocation took the stage one thing became clear; they weren’t leaving without making new fans. Playing an impressive blend of technical death metal and thrash, the band seamlessly incorporates progressive passages and jazzy interludes to great effect in songs like “Conjuring the Cataclysm” and “Across the Forests and Fjords”. But it was front man David Davidson’s comedic banter rather than his virtuous guitar playing that really endeared him to the crowd, somehow making hilarious connections between his music, Skyrim and partying sex demons. For a band with such serious musical chops, it’s nice to see that Revocation hasn’t forgotten how to have a good time.

If you’re an eight-piece melodic death metal band who includes a hurdy gurdy, violin and flute in a list of oft used instruments, you’re probably going to stand out on a tour like this one. Despite playing the part of black sheep, Switzerland’s Eluveitie actually had a substantial draw and those fans generated a level of hype that was difficult to ignore as the band took to the stage. Jumping straight into the title track from 2010’s “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”, the entire venue seemed awash in awe and curiosity. Actually, the whole performance felt like a bit of a spectacle with front man Chrigel Glanzmann alternating between harsh vocals and playing the flute, and hurdy gurdyist Anna Murphy lending her voice for a spectacular rendition of “A Rose for Epona”. Eluveitie’s brand of folk metal might have been a bit out of place on paper, but it proved to be a welcome and entertaining change of pace.

I’ve always credited Finland’s Children of Bodom with helping to further my interest and involvement in metal, and in all those years I’ve seen them live a countless number of times. Somehow though, this show felt different. It felt special. Whether it was the ravenous crowd, my nostalgic mood, or the fact that this was the band’s 15th anniversary tour, the moment I heard the opening riffs of “Sixpounder” I just couldn’t stop smiling. From here they blazed through a career spanning set list, placing a surprising emphasis on both older tracks and fan favourites throughout. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came when, after asking if we’d like to “hear some old shit”, Alexi Laiho and Co. mashed up “Deadnight Warrior”, the opening track from their debut album, with the recognizable keyboard intro of “Hate Me!”

Everything they played they played with gusto, and you could truly sense the brotherhood and camaraderie up on stage. When it came time to end the night with the obligatory track “Downfall”, Children of Bodom had shown that, even after fifteen years, it’s sometimes nice to go back and revisit your past.

Children of Bodomhttps://myspace.com/childrenofbodom/music/songs

Eluveitiehttps://myspace.com/eluveitie/music/songs

Revocationhttp://revocation.bandcamp.com/

Threat Signalhttps://myspace.com/threatsignal/music/songs

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Eluveitie/ Death Angel/ 3 Inches of Blood/ Holy Grail/ Lazarus A.D./ System Divide @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, February 6, 2011

24 03 2011

Originally written as a joint review for Hellbound.ca, the following is one half of a collaboration between myself and the always amazing Natalie Zed. The full article complete with Ms. Zed’s portion of the review and photos by Adam Wills  can be found here: http://met.al/oea. Enjoy!

If the large crowd at The Opera House on Sunday night was any indication then it would be fair to assume that metal heads aren’t really into football. It’s either that or the allure of two very different tours meeting up for one show right here in T.O. was too intriguing to pass up, or at least more intriguing than commercials and chilli. Death Angel vs. Eluveitie? Now there’s a match up to sink your teeth into! If you couldn’t make it, never fear because Hellbound’s own metal insiders were on hand to bring you the play by play.

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one. There’s this melodic death metal band that sounds kind of like Soilwork only with two singers. Let’s call them System Divide. It’s sort of a beast meets harlot scenario where the guy sings all these low, guttural verses and the girl sings all the choruses in this clean, operatic voice. They’ve got atmospheric keyboard intros without really having a keyboardist and…Oh wait, you have heard this before? Let’s just move on then, shall we?

Lazarus A.D. might be just another thrash band but theirs is a redundancy that is more tongue-in-cheek fun than it is boring facsimile. They play just what you’d expect from a thrash band and somehow that’s okay. With material chalk full of guitar solos and double kick, they put on an entertaining performance save for some initial moments of lackluster stiffness I’ll attribute to nerves. By the time they closed the set with their new single “Ultimate Sacrifice” they were thrashing with a passion. Besides, any band that has a drummer who can windmill headbang whilst playing has got my seal of approval!

I had no previous encounters with Holy Grail but I suppose in the back of my head I was expecting something along the lines of traditional metal coupled with nerdy themes involving battles and swordplay. I’m glad I was right because what they delivered was all that and then some, performing with a level of energy and fervour I wasn’t prepared for. There was wailing falsetto, fist pumping and sing-along’s with a crowd that was more than willing to participate. When all was said and done I was left with a positive impression, their debut album and $13 fewer dollars in my pocket.

As the crowd grew in size, so did the party atmosphere. Liquor was flowing, people were socializing and somewhere in the distance Vancouver’s 3 Inches of Blood were storming the stage to the theme from Star Trek. Clearly this is a band that is serious about having a good time. Gleaning from a set list that read more like a greatest hits package, they reached deep into their back catalogue to pull out one favourite after another. Songs like “Goatrider’s Horde”, “Destroy the Orcs”, “Night Marauders” and “Fear on the Bridge” were upstaged only by a fantastic cover of Rush’s “Anthem”. Throw in a new unreleased track (“Lord of Change”), denim vests and a couple of gnarly mosh pits and you’ve got yourself a party!

The biggest surprise of the night for me came courtesy of Death Angel. I had never seen them live before and although I was anticipating a fine tuned dose of thrash metal from a band that had been doing this for ages, I was unexpectedly blown away by their performance. Frontman Mark Osegueda is charismatic in the most genuine of ways, repeatedly thanking fans both new and old and injecting a bit of good natured humour into his between song banter. Not only that, but their bay area brand of thrash sounds just as heavy and relevant as anything that’s been released in the past five years. Although they no doubt played numerous hits I was unfamiliar with, even the hardcore fans were surprised when Toronto’s own Danko Jones joined them on stage, helping out during the circle-pit-friendly anthem “Thrashers”. What did it for me however was when they broke into an impeccable rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” in the middle of the song “Bored”. It was a spot on, grin inducing tribute to Dio that has since provoked me to dig the entire album out of my collection and put it into obsessive rotation. Talk about impressive!

Elueveitie are undoubtedly a sight to behold. With eight members on one stage and more instruments than people to play them, this is something that should go without saying. I took them in a bit like I would a glass of wine, sipping and savouring each element in turn. From hurdy gurdy to violin, there was always something new to take in. Bringing out bagpipes for the track “Inis Mona” is a perfect demonstration to this point, and was an obvious crowd pleaser. Both fun and fierce, Eluveitie’s blend of melodic death metal and folk brought the perfect balance to an eclectic night of metal.

 

Death Angel http://www.myspace.com/deathangel

Eluveitiehttp://www.myspace.com/eluveitie

3 Inches of Bloodhttp://www.myspace.com/3iob

Holy Grailhttp://www.myspace.com/holygrail

Lazarus ADhttp://www.myspace.com/lazarus1

System Dividehttp://www.myspace.com/systemdivide

 








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