Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Amorphis & Opeth
Live in Toronto, April 7, 2001

Reviewed By Waspman

Amorphis and Opeth. This just might be the most anticipated tour in metaldom right now, at least on North American shores. I know I was super-psyched up for this show, despite the fact that it was at The Kathedral which has a notorious reputation for concerts. Unfortunately, the rumors are true - The Kathedral is not even close to being a great concert venue. It does have a cool back area where you can relax a bit if you don't feel like being squashed in the main room (which could barely hold the approx. 350 people in attendance). Anyway, enough about venue, on to the show!

Right from the moment you entered the club, it was obvious which band the crowd had come to see, as chants of "O-peth, O-peth" began almost immediately. Well, the crowd (and myself!) would have to wait, as local Toronto boys Endless were the first band to hit the stage.

Ominous moment that later proved to be important: the band's bassist/vocalist was having trouble with his monitor but his mic was also fucked so the guitarist/vocalist had to communicate the problem to the sound crew. Initial problems aside, Endless plowed through their brand of brutal death metal. They sounded pretty tight for a young band, and they did a good job of mixing songs from their first album and their forthcoming new disc. Both the bassist and guitarist shared the vocal duties, but the bassist clearly had the more effective growl. Overall, a decent set, but nothing too exciting or original. Death metal enthusiasts might want to check out the band's new disc when it comes out on Pavement later this year.

At this point I was about to crap myself with anticipation - I was about to se Opeth live! I could only hope that they could live up to their albums. Once again chants of "Opeth" filled the hall as the crowd impatiently awaited their heroes. Finally, after about 20 minutes (and half of Samael's ETERNAL album played over the speakers) Opeth took to the stage and immediately broke into "The Leper Affinity". Being the professionals they are, the band had no trouble pulling off the song, even though it was apparent that Akerfeldt was having troubles with his monitor, a problem which would plague him throughout the rest of the set.

Funny moment: During the crew's extended attempt to fix the problem Akerfeldt came to the mic and joked: "These are brand new heads - just bought them today. Good brand!" Obviously professionalism and a willingness to laugh at mistakes went a long way to winning over the crowd despite the problems.

Once the problem was fixed (kinda) Opeth proceeded to blow the roof off the joint with perfect renditions of songs off of all their albums. I was quite surprised at the great reaction that "Forest of October" got from the throng, as the place exploded when it was introduced. The biggest cheer of the night went to "Demon of the Fall" which is quickly becoming "The Trooper" of the Opeth catalogue. I was personally holding out for live versions of "Face of Melinda" or "April Ethereal" but that was not to be. Then again, if I didn't get those songs, just imagine how disappointed the guy beside was who didn't get the "Black Rose Immortal" that he kept shouting for. Other highlights of the show: "The Drapery Falls" and a mind-blowing "White Cluster".

As for the musicianship of the band, one word sums it up: flawless. Mikael and Peter's guitarwork was amazing. Peter Lindgren is truly an under-rated guitarist. His solos are exceptionally beautiful, fitting into the Opeth sound seamlessly. The Martin duo of the rhythm section was equally impressive and provided a chest-shuddering bottom end. All in all, this was an almost perfect show that washed away the bad taste that the Yngwie Malmsteen show left in my mouth one night earlier, and a performance that I'm sure the bad will top when they return in less than a month.

At this point, a fairly noticeable number of fans bailed on the gig, leaving Amorphis a good, but not great sized audience. Well, to those people I say "tough shit!" because they missed a good performance! The tiny Kathedral stage was barely big enough to hold all six member of the band and their limited movement did hurt the performance as the band was basically forced to stand in one spot the entire night. On the other hand, Amorphis didn't encounter the sound problems that plagued Opeth.

Right from the start, it was obvious that the band was going to focus on material from ELEGY and onwards, as "Crimson Wave", "Forever More" and "Better Unborn" were all played early in the set. As it turns out, they didn't play a single song from their pre-ELEGY days. Don't know what the reasoning is behind that 'cause judging by his growls on "Greed" Pasi Koskinen could've handled the material. Speaking of Pasi…dude give up the Jim Morrison impersonations, they're irritating to watch! Why you would want to be like that overrated junkie is beyond me. Amorphis is not a Doors cover band! The other side of the coin is that Pasi's singing was very good over the course of the set, despite some off-key slip-ups here and there. His voice is very well suited to the "new" Amorphis sound even if he's not as sharp live as he is in the studio.

Unlike Opeth, Amorphis actually played my favorite song of theirs - "Divinity". This song is simply awesome and just as powerful when they play it live. Actually, a number of songs off of TUONELA made the cut - "Tuonela", "Greed", and "The Way" all made appearances in the set. Holopainen and Koivusaari's guitars were note-perfect while the rhythm section was rock-solid. I've gotta give special praise to Kallio's keyboard work which was much more prevalent than it is on the albums and quite entertaining. Finishing the show with a three song encore that included the classic "My Kantele" was awesome and helped to forgive them for ignoring TALES… throughout the entire show. Still, I found my attention wandering over the course of the set, as the band seemed to be sliding in and out of their groove. Or maybe it was just because Amorphis didn't finish their set until almost 1:30 a.m. and I was all rocked-out. Nah, couldn't have been. Anyway, all I can say is that there were 350 extremely satisfied metalheads leaving the Kathedral that night, and I was one of them.

 

Special thanks go out to Eric, Mark (my photo-bitch), and DJ Daimon, and especially to Mikael and Peter.

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