Not much in this life beats seeing some great bands play live, except for when you see great bands play live and it is the last stop on the tour. On March 24th in front of an eager Cambridge crowd at The Sinclair, Ecstatic Vision, YOB, and Enslaved brought forth a memorable show to close out the first quarter of the year. For me, I had never heard/listened to Ecstatic Vision, only recently started listening to YOB after they were announced for Maryland Deathfest 2015, and have become a big Enslaved fan over the years. To top it all off, this was the final stop on the tour and was curious to see what sort of shenanigans or special moments could occur. To be honest, I still can’t believe some of the things I saw and how ‘Isa’ by Enslaved is now ruined for me forever (in a good way of course).Ecstatic Vision, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
To start off the night on what turned out to be a great note, Ecstatic Vision rocked out and certainly made a vast amount of new fans in Cambridge, MA. The entire set I tried to place what I was listening to, and the best description I could come up with was Deep Purple with Rob Zombie during the White Zombie era on vocals. Naturally, this combination got me excited from the start of the set and straight through until the house lights came on. In a strange moment during one of the epic tracks in the set, Enslaved’s own Grutle Kjellson (lead vocals/bass) and Herbrand Larsen (keyboards, synthesizer, clean vocals) appears on stage to provide some manly hugs to the guys in Ecstatic Vision. Strangest of all was Grutle walking around in a t-shirt and his underwear. Due up next, doom titans, YOB.
Yob, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
Having only got around to really listening to the latest album from YOB and a select few other tracks, I had high hopes for their live performance. I am happy to say that my high hopes were met, and then some. Given the length of the available set time and the average length of a YOB song, I was not anticipating anymore than a few songs and more than likely one or two off the latest album. Turned out they played a total of four tracks, three of which came off of the new album. The set kicked off with ‘In Our Blood’ which shook the very foundation of The Sinclair and the souls of its guests. In a surprise turn of events, Grutle made his way out to center stage again where a spare microphone was waiting for him as he provided guest vocals for ‘Nothing To Win.’ This would not be the end of Enslaved’s appearances as Grutle, Herbrand, and the rest of the crew would come out and provide more manly hugs to the guys from YOB. It appeared YOB may have been done after just three songs, but Mike Scheidt announced they had time for one last song, ‘Burning the Altar.’ The threesome from Oregon had absolutely blown me away with their live stage presence and I am more than excited to catch them again at MDF this year!YOB and Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
At long last, it was time for Enslaved to return to the stage, but actually play some music rather than provide comic relief. The set list from the long time extreme metal favorites was obviously in support of their latest release, In Times (Nuclear Blast), so a couple or so songs could be expected and then a few other songs sprinkled in. Off of the new album, the Cambridge audience got to hear ‘Thurisaz Dreaming’, ‘Building With Fire’, and the album title track, ‘In Times.’ On top of that, the set included a track from 8 other albums such as: Axioma Ethica Odini, Below the Lights, Frost, RIITIIR, and Ruun! Normally when I order a flight, I expect a couple of sample size beers for tasting. However, Enslaved truly put on a flight of their catalog for fans both new and old. Personally, I really enjoyed hearing some of the older tracks such as ‘The Watcher’ and ‘Fenris’. In case there was any question, yes, Grutle’s in between song banter and jokes were present and as funny as ever. Always nice to know that some bands out there today can still play some great heavy metal, but can avoid taking themselves so seriously and just have a good time. As most of the Enslaved fans could guess, the set ended with fan favorite ‘Isa’. However, the joke was on Enslaved at this point as members from both YOB and Ecstatic Vision rushed the stage playing pretending to play instruments unplugged. Also, and most notably, some members of the band and road crew were holding pieces of cardboard that looked to spell ‘Iza’ or someone had difficulty drawing the letter S. Then another Z came out, and then a P. Just when I realized that they had spelled out “pizza” (which is all I can hear now during said song now) some ladies from the merch tables came out on stage and started handing out pieces of pizza out to the crowd! This was certainly a first for me and I am not sure I will ever see anything like that again.Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
Enslaved with YOB and Ecstatic Vision, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
It just goes to show you that not much can beat an Enslaved show, regardless of who comes with them. However, on this specific tour, I think the selection of support bands were damn near flawless. Also, I wanted to quickly mention my ever growing love for The Sinclair venue. I have been to this venue now for a handful of shows and the staff is always friendly, lighting/sound is perfect, and just the overall atmosphere just seems to really click. As for Enslaved, YOB, and Ecstatic Vision, I think the rest of the heavy metal world has a lot to cover at this point to bring such a diverse but entertaining group of bands together for a tour.
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN