Live shots by MetalMattLongo at Nectar’s in Burlington, VT on 2011Nov21.
Photos by MetalMattLongo | Review by Willow Holden
Dear Amon Amarth,
Thank you for coming all the way from Sweden to conclude the first “An Evening with Amon Amarth“ tour at the Paradise Rock Club and Lounge in Boston. You played two full sets plus an encore without any opening bands and you did not even appear to have broken a sweat! Although the venue had its own challenges, such as ill-placed pillars that blocked my view, you guys played strong, energetic sets that had everyone in the audience pumped to be there. Matt also found it helpful that the venue sold earplugs for $1, because he forgot his and our friend Curt needed to purchase some as well. There were also 3 bars—2 downstairs and 1 on the balcony—that made getting beer easy. The balcony had plenty of space to sit down, which I personally appreciated very much.
But Amon Amarth, really, you were fabulous. Johan Hegg, you are truly a Viking, and I had heard that you and the rest of the band were large, but I honestly did not see expect the Thor-like presence and energy that your band emitted. But strangely, despite your Viking exterior, you were all not only kind, but genuinely excited to be playing for us, your Boston audience. You spoke jokingly of a certain film release that you could have gotten angry about, but instead you found it hilarious. It is this good nature that made the show such an awesome experience. Because even with talented musicians, there is always something missing if the band is not passionate or good-humored about the concert.
There is something special about musicians who have worked together for a long time. Hegg, you told us that Amon Amarth, in their current incarnation, has been working together for 19 years. What surprised me most about this little piece of knowledge was that the band did not seem tired, grumpy, or seem as if there was drama amongst the group. In fact, Amon Amarth seemed as excited to be playing as we were to hear them.
What I want to say most in this letter is this: Amon Amarth, you make my fantasy of metal-Vikings a reality. Your music is surprisingly danceable, yet brutally complex, making it easy to play solo shows and sell out venues. You have enough grace and charisma to play comfortably and happily in foreign countries—still badass while creating a welcoming, exhilarating atmosphere. Thank you for the wonderful evening, and I hope we can do it again soon.
Do yourself a favor, and get some high-fidelity earplugs. I somehow forgot both my main pair and backup, so this was one of few shows in the last several years to cause new damage. Still, the sound was pretty well-balanced at Cafe Campus, and it was the first concert me and Phil would see there.
Because of this, we had one of those fun, where-the-fuck-is-Google-Maps-sending-us-and-why-didn’t-we-double-check-before-leaving kinda times. But we still got in to catch Musk Ox—the “neofolk / dark acoustic solo project of Canadian Nathanaël Larochette” (in the words of last.fm). It was a nice, mellow opener and Don Anderson came out to duet a little. Cool and interesting, yet not exactly right for my mood.
Worm Ouroboros brought a heavier atmosphere to the room. Alternating ambience against syrupy sludge, they had a unsettlingly pleasant presence—as if we had all struck a Faustian bargain in exchange for the dripping sweetness. The only caveat, as Mr. Eisenhauer pointed out, was that this would be better experienced lying down. Maybe in an opium den.
But we came for Agalloch. And we were hardly prepared for their gloriousness. Live, they were stronger than I had imagined. Everything just comes together, from their commanding stage presence to the incense permeating the air. There was much played from Marrow of the Spirit, beginning as the album does with “They Escaped the Weight of Darkness”—ethereal woodwinds mixed with natural ambiance, which spilled right “Into the Painted Grey”. But my favorite moment of the night was “Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires”, echoing its unique dance in their extended first set, which also included the first pair of tracks from Ashes Against the Grain.
They concluded with two of the finest from their early material: “Dead Winter Days” off of their debut Pale Folklore, and ”In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion” from their sophomore set, The Mantle. As a recent Agalloch convert, I didn’t notice, as Phil did, that they played a veritable “best of” collection this evening—possibly because it was their first time playing Montréal. Spoken as someone with little previous knowledge, they execute beautifully and harmonize unexpectedly. I liked what I heard before, but am an absolutely true (tr00?) believer now.
But anyway… AGAIN: do yourself a favor, and get some fucking high-fidelity earplugs. For a show that “wasn’t all that bad” in terms of overwhelming volume, my ears have been really ringing for days. And even though my memory sometimes lacks (for various reasons), after 15 years and hundreds of shows, I can confidently say this is the worst aftermath yet. Now that I understand Agalloch more completely, the inability to listen would be downright tragic. So first, keep an eye out for your ears—involve other organs, if necessary—and get Marrow of the Spirit, which found its way onto more than one 2010 list on this site.
They Escaped the Weight of Darkness
Into the Painted Grey
The Watcher’s Monolith
Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires
Our Fortress is Burning… II: Bloodbirds
Dead Winter Days
In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion
HA, I was told this was a dubious idea, because the first show following their “In 3D” headlining tour was a Saturday night in Manchester, NH. There were probably a few Green Mountain boys and girls considering going down, but I thought it made a lot more sense to just get Shai Hulud here. The time and location was right, plus February vacation just began for many schools, meaning this all-ages show would doubtlessly pack with fresh-eared teenagers and longtime fans alike. The Facebook event wall confessed a few virgins, who may very well get this awesome flyer graphic tattooed on them at some point (by the artist Keenan Bouchard, if they’re lucky). Damn, just look at that thing!
Booking fucking kills me, every time thus far. I really wish we could have turned a better profit, but at least we were able to feed Shai Hulud, give them their promised amount, plus a little more for gas and such. They had recently gotten jacked for a thousand bucks worth of merch, so anything over and above was desired. And as usual, I got a metric shit-ton of pictures (555 to be exact). After a week of whittling, I’ve settled on these.
So I was shooting the shit with Matt Fox in their van before the show began, and only caught half the set from Crown of Lions. Sorry, dudes—it happens. But you were tight nonetheless, even as their bassist Justin Augusta had just returned from North Korea to reunite for their first show this winter. The floor was pretty pumped from the get-go, and I’m really glad the guys were able to bring their badass hardcore across the pond from Plattsburgh.
Another band going by the skin of their teeth that night was Crucial Times, who technically just finished their recent tour. The drove many hours from somewhere pretty southern (I forget exact distance), and still managed an energetic set. Nice work, guys!
We could not have asked for better direct support than Alive & Well. For those that stay updated on this site, they released a free downloadable EP from Bandcamp a few days before this performance, and they way the audience reacted, you’d think they did nothing but spin and memorize the five tracks in the days prior. For what it’s worth, Shai Hulud was paying close attention and participating in the pit the whole time they were on.
The Matts—Fox and Fletcher—are the only enduring members of Shai Hulud. A couple years ago, Misanthropy Pure‘s vocalist Matt Ian Mazzali proved one Matt too many (drummer Matt Covey made four!), and he had a “tough guy” vibe that didn’t quite jell with this band. But new frontman Mike Moynihan seems more similar to Geert van der Velde, and can seriously work a crowd.
They tore through a lean and mean setlist, which you can see right here. The entire thing was shot by Phil Eisenhauer—one half of Black Lodge Booking (a.k.a. one of the other reasons this show was possible) and with Kevin Dubrule, really made this a great night. It was Fox’s camera, so I’m not sure how it will be used, but you will know as soon as we do!
Thanks again for everyone who contributed to this show. The bands, the fans, the venue—we all must work together for these events to function, and that’s what happened. Everything flowed well, without negative incidents, and unless someone tells me otherwise, a good time was had by all. The Black Lodge and Mind Over Metal will likely be further collaborating in the future, so keep checking back here, or click on the “Follow Us” tab on the left to keep abreast of all the latest info.
All photographs by Dan Alexander Jupskås.
We were originally just going to spend the night in a few of London’s pubs this December evening; a transit stop before venturing on to the British west coast for the Nightmare Before Christmas festival (curated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Suddenly this evening became one of the highlights of the entire trip: the doom metal supergroup Shrinebuilder decided to return to London to make up for the cancelled gig last year (due to the “volcano incident”), and they’d invited the amazing Wolves In The Throne Room as their special guests!
The Scala is an inviting building—marble white and quite “old world” with pillars and huge doors. On the inside its surprisingly much like a factory, but it’s an effective venue with galleries and even a glass-walled bar (for those who like their metal on a lower decibel scale). The queue to get into the venue was long, but fast (the English are quite effective in queues) and soon we were inside the main bar area, which was packed when we got there. People seemed eager and joyful—even in London it’s not a everyday event to see a gig with this kind of line-up. The four riders of Shrinebuilder has been integral in forming modern-day doom metal with its members from the bands Neurosis, Melvins, Saint Vitus, Sleep, Om, Obsessed, etc.
But first we’d see the younger rockers in Wolves In The Throne Room. Even if they’re rookies compared to the veterans in Shrinebuilder, they’ve quickly become an “it” band in black metal; fusing the Norwegian source material with other genres like shoegaze, drone and doom. Their records have already been classified as cult classics and their live reputation only builds on that goodwill. This evening the band started with a noisy wall of feedback and thundering drums before stopping abruptly in their tracks. This was followed by the lighting of candles and placing of twigs from spruce trees in front of the stage. But, soon they continued their concert and as one could expect they were a brutal wall of noise, screams and epic metal.
The crowd seemed a little thrown off by the blast from the northwestern woods, but they soon warmed up to the fiery embers of doom as the set progressed. The band’s two guitars created more of a wall of white noise than guitar lines, but it’s this wall and the blastbeats of Aaron Weaver that form the perfect backbone to Nathan Weavers haunted vocals. The songs faded out in favour of a blissful and transcendental heaviness. The blue lights, the mystic banners of wolfs, owls and other forest creatures and the everpresent smoke is the icing on the cake that makes Wolves In The Throne Room one of my definite favorite bands of all time.
There was not much talk as the roadies cleared the stage before setting up Shrinebuilder‘s equipment. The crowd had clearly been anticipating this concert as the whispers increased as we got ever closer to set start.
As they hit the stage it was clear what band most people were here to see; cheering, movement and smiles told everyone that the four legends had won the hearts of everyone even before they’d played a single note. Dale were hidden behind the drums for most of the time, but delivered a dead solid beat for the three vocalists. Wino smiled and cursed the crowd, the gods and sound itself throughout the gig while Scott treated his guitar as a weapon, hammering out lethal riffs and headbanging in his usual slow and menacing manner. Al danced with his bass in front of the stage, sensual and dangerous while summoning the atmosphere of ancient times and soon they were off into the psychedelic heavens.
They only played songs from their album, but they stretched and tore in the fabric of these tunes, and as proper doom should, I soon lost my grip on the songs. Instead I preferred to let go and just float away on the wings of the blackened birds of prey that are songs like ”Pyramid Of The Moon” and “Solar Benediction”. I was positively surprised to see how well the band sounded on stage; the three voices never felt like rivals, as they could have done in a supergroup like this. Wino’s rock, Al’s croon and Scott’s roars were the perfect allies to give the music its proper storytelling. And as the set ended, their friendship seemed clear. Wino saluted the crowd, Dale introduced their roadies to the applauding crowd and everybody on stage smiled, hugged and hailed the audience. It was a great night out in London!
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