This show was a tasty treat for the listening senses. It’s not often that every individual band on a bill brings different and complementary sounds. Usually you go to a show and expect most of the bands to either sound similar or just have no real logical flow as to the running order, or just be so disparate sonically that you’re wondering if the bands’ names were pulled out of a hat at random. With that being said, that was far from the situation here. I was dubious originally about openers Starkill from Chi-town, but they were surprisingly cohesive as far as metal that’s both extreme and appeasing to the ear goes, despite a rather corny name and outside aesthetic that has all of the grizzled and ugly among us snickering at their black nail polish and silky locks. Imagine if Dragonforce actually did something productive instead of tossing riff salad all year, couple that with harsh (but accessible) vocals in the vein of Arch Enemy, Dawnless, or Children Of Bodom. Y’know, basically the type that you could call ‘extreme power metal’ or whatever. It’s nothing I haven’t heard in some form or another, but since I haven’t found a good new band of this sort that knows how to craft an uplifting melody that doesn’t sound like it came from the freezer section in Hot Topic, I guess I’m just reminiscing about my olden days when I used to flip the horns at a moment’s notice. Women dig it.
Next up were master poets and riffmasters in Arsis, who I’ve been dying to see since I decided to plunge beyond We Are The Nightmare and go exploring into their groundbreaking album, A Celebration Of Guilt, which is among the top technical/melodic death metal releases I could name off the top of my head. While I wasn’t willing to drop trou and head to Worcester to see them open for Sonata Arctica (new album I haven’t heard and a generally unsatisfying live report from friends is a deterrent), a much shorter journey was naturally refreshing news. And seeing how the set list was leaning mostly towards the aforementioned album, including my favourite song of all time by them, ‘The Face Of My Innocence’ (re-recorded for modern generations to enjoy, I suppose?), I was quite stoked. ‘Maddening Disdain’, ‘Seven Whispers Fell Silent’, and an abbreviated version of ‘A Diamond For Disease’ also made an appearance, in addition to two new cuts from the new album, Unwelcome, and if they’re any indicator, we’re in for yet another stellar release. Here’s to more of that.
Fleshgod Apocalypse just about out-classied everyone by virtue of wearing operatic/orchestral regalia, ties and all, drummer included. However, the corpsepaint and cursing (gosh you’re a pottymouth, Christiano) and playing death metal lost them some points. The inclusion of a live pianist and soprano singer Veronica Bordacchini in flowy robes, however, brought them back to elegance, so it was a night at the opera, in a sense. This feeling of viewing the musicians from afar and people-watching rather than mixing myself up in the churning bodies was enforced by the fact that the set list consisted of nothing from Oracles or Mafia, which contain songs that I feel like moshing to. Not to say that the new material is bad by any stretch, but it’s grander and more cinematic scope (sans blastbeats, because Hans Zimmer doesn’t mess with those) makes it harder to just lose yourself and see red. If someone brought out folding chairs and those binoculars on a stick, I’d be all too ready to take a seat and politely clap rather than wonder why a ‘Wall Of Death’ wasn’t on the menu.
Finland’s heroes of progressive everything-metal in Wintersun certainly had some tough acts to follow, but they’re Wintersun and consequently at lv.99 so they had nothing to worry about. Hyperbeams of melody, earthquakes of powerful rhythms, and why am I talking about Pokemon now?All that need be said is that Wintersun packed the house. Unfortunately friends couldn’t make it because hell, who knows when a band that just recently had their first U.S. tour when the world was supposed to ‘end’ is gonna come back, much less headline and perhaps play all or 95% of their discography? Deciding that just sitting back and viewing Jari as he conducted the crowd of dorks like a makeshift choir during the more epic bits of ‘Death And The Healing’ and a battalion of guerrilla Vikings during ‘Beyond The Dark Sun’, and more subtle nuances that my brain doesn’t feel like distinguishing/remembering because I was chillin’ and soaking it up like a sponge but for sounds, lame as that er… sounds. So remember, kids; Metal is good, and you should check it out if you haven’t. Why are you even reading this in that case? Go listen to Wintersun.
Wintersun, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Arsis and Starkill
The Sinclair, Cambridge MA,
August 9th, 2013
Photos: Meg Loyal Photography