Opeth

Live Music Review: Amorphis with Swallow the Sun and Viathyn

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Amorphis with Swallow the Sun and Viathyn

When: March 31, 2017
Where: Starlite Room

For the first time in Edmonton’s metal history, Amorphis and Swallow the Sun have graced one of our stages, and for the not-enough time Viathyn have done so as well. For those that do not know the bands, Amorphis and Swallow the Sun are both Finnish bands while Viathyn come from Calgary. Amorphis are a melodic death/hard rock amalgamation that was born in the death and doom scene. Swallow the Sun are a doom band with melodic tendencies. Viathyn are a progressive power metal band that have essentially come out of retirement for only two shows, which were the Edmonton and Calgary dates for this Amorphis tour.

The night got a bit of an early start and I think I missed the first song and some of the second, or just part of the first song from Viathyn. It was great to finally see this band live, as they are a band I’ve known and enjoyed since their first album The Peregrine Way. It’s been a very long time since the release of that album (2010), and it’s follow-up Cynosure (2014), so I honestly could not tell you what songs they played because it’s been so long since I’ve listened to those albums; probably 2015 was the last time I listened to them.

The energy this quartet brings to a stage is palpable, which is why it’s sad that they are still essentially on hiatus. The quality of the songs themselves is incredible, with tons of shredding solos and amazing vocals. They are definitely for fans of Opeth, Leprous, newer Arcturus, and, well, Amorphis.

Swallow the Sun were my personal favourite for the night, before the show, and stayed that way after. What can I say, they are a doom band after all! The dynamics of this band are unreal, taking you from the deepest darkness to the brightest lights, and back down again, filling you with so many emotions. Musically, vocally, everything about this band is emotive and perfectly doom. If you’re a fan of Novembers Doom, Novembre, My Dying Bride, or October Tide, and you haven’t checked out Swallow the Sun, you should do so as soon as you can.

Amorphis, oh Amorphis. This was a band not born from the death/doom scene from the 90’s, but one of the bands that gave birth to it! And they were going to be playing, for the first time, in Edmonton. I was really excited. But I was also worried. They have, after all, gone less of a doom direction on their newest albums, going for a more straight forward melodic death sound like Dark Tranquillity or mid-era In Flames. How would this iconic Finnish band play in a city they’ve never been in before? They did indeed play songs from their newer melodic death focused albums, and played them fucking amazingly; “Sacrifice” being one such example. The thing that kind of jarred me was that they seem to have rearranged their old and classic material, which was played sparingly, into sounding more like their modern releases. This is exactly what I was worried would happen, and quite frankly, I’m disappointed. I was hoping Amorphis would play a mixture of their catalogue, but without having to homogenize their old material to fit with their new material. I will say that this is the only sour note in my opinion. The performance that Amorphis gave was beyond excellent, and the Starlite Room carried their sound perfectly. I stood in several locations during the set to take photos, and everywhere I moved the band was perfectly balanced, from front to back, and the band themselves were playing their asses off to make sure that this was a night to remember for everyone involved. Now if only my photos had turned out.

In all, March 31, 2017 was an excellent night, the first night of an excellent weekend for me.

Swallow the Sun

Posted by Crown of Viserys on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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Music Review: Noire – Dark Reverence

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Noire - Dark Reverence

Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Label: Independent (Now signed to Deathbound Records)

Filled to the brim with Canadian permafrost, these Winnipeg natives have laid down an epic album of cold black metal that not only hearkens to the sounds of the Norwegian (Enslaved, Immortal) and Swedish (Opeth) scenes, but also to Canada’s own.

The album starts off with the instrumental “Lost and Godless”, then delves into four long tracks full of melancholic lyrical hymns to darkness, death, and nature. Black metal tropes, yes; cliche as fuck, yes; written wonderfully and giving these old chestnuts new life, a resounding yes.

“Shadows Rise” clocks in at nearly ten minutes and is the second longest song on Dark Reverence. It travels from acoustic melodies to a blackened kick to the face, and features Andrew using his voice much like Jeff Walker in Carcass’ song “Heartwork”.

“Dark Reverence” is nearly eight minutes long and has an epic feel and melodicism that would sit well on Sons of Northern Darkness, while the following track “Where Death Keeps” takes a more atmospheric and folky approach, bringing to mind the UK’s Desolate Winds, Spectre, and Winterfylleth crossed with Enslaved, Satyricon and Primordial.

“Ghosts of Damnnation” stands out with it’s slightly thrashy intro that drops into a straight up black metal with blackened thrash sections. This song never fails to get my neck snapping and fist pumping, making it dangerous to drive to.

“Pale Death” is another instrumental, and the longest on the album, rearing its head late in the disc, giving listeners a chance to regroup and prepare for the album’s shortest lyrical song.

“A Fire Shall Burn” is pretty much just a slower pure black metal song with a folk element. It sounds the most Norwegian or all the songs, I would say, and is one of my favourite songs on the album. Again though, Andrew’s vocals remind me of a blackened and slower Jeff Walker, which is a really interesting twist for me.

The final lyrical song on the album is “Faithless”, which starts off slow and pretty, like much of the songs on Dark Reverence, then kicks into a riff that reminds me of Opeth‘s “The Leper Affinity” and Immortal‘s “In My Kingdom Cold”. “Faithless” is the longest song on the album, clocking in at exactly 11:56, but not for one moment is it boring, a feat that many bands that write epic long songs fail to accomplish. Noire have honed their ability to take tempo and riff changes and place them at just the right parts in a song to keep interest in what they are doing.

The final song of the album, “My Fallen Angel” is an amazing piano piece that sounds nothing like what else has transpired on Dark Reverence, but fits in perfectly at the same time. I would honestly love to hear an extended version of this song that reaches the same type of song length as “Faithless” or “Shadows Rise”.

In all, Noire are an awesome band with an awesome album in Dark Reverence, and it is no wonder they are making a name for themselves in their home city of Winnipeg but across Canada and into the USA. They are successfully combining raw black metal with tons of melody, death metal sections, and a huge amount of feeling to create a wonderful progressive black metal that is all their own while still wearing their influences on their collective sleeves.