Enslaved “Winter Rite” Tour
Dicken’s Pub – Calgary, Alberta
February 15, 2013
Photos and Review by Monika Deviat
The last few times Enslaved has come to Calgary, Alta., they have been preceded by the seemingly threatening Chinook clouds that chase away the bitter cold temperatures in the city, making it feel like a balmy spring day. Although the 2013 tour is titled the “Winter Rite Tour”, the foehn winds (“snow eaters”) created a contradictory environment. But inside Dicken’s Pub , the weather had no influence on the atmosphere. The Norwegian’s were accompanied by three U.S. bands, Pallbearer, Royal Thunder and Ancient VVisdom. There was quiet a variance of styles of this bill but it still all seemed to fit together quite well. The order of the bands also flowed well, starting with the brooding rock and blues sounds of Ancient VVisdom and ending with Enslaved’s furious onslaught.
Ancient VVisdom from Austin Texas had a bit of an unconventional stage set up. The entire set featured acoustic guitar work – that was actually mixed in quite well – and the drummer had a very simplistic set which he stood in front of stoically for the entire set. The music had a very hypnotic feel, especially with founder and vocalist Nathan Opposition’s compelling vocals interleaved. The band sampled from their newest album released in February while they were touring, Deathlike [Prosthetic Records, 2013].
Royal Thunder from Atlanta Georgia was a pleasant surprise to many. Their bluesy, gritty occult sound hooked the crowd in. Guitarist Josh Coleman was missing for this tour, but the three-piece created a very full sound. The band was completely immersed in their music and the audience was enthralled. Mlny Parsonz is a captivating front woman. Her voice is so strong and dynamic, from the quiet smoky whispers to raw intense wails, it was gorgeous heard live. Drummer Evan Diprima was expressive behind the kit and guitarist Josh Weaver delivered soulful riffs and solos. Their too short set sampled exclusively from their newest album CVI[Relapse Records, 2012], with songs like “Black Water Vision”, “Whispering World” and “Shake and Shift”. The audience begged for another song when the band finished but a grateful Parzonz had to regretfully tell the crowd there wasn’t time for another song. Unfortunately for many, the band was sold out of CD’s.
Pallbearer from Little Rock, Arkansas was big draw for a lot of the Calgary crowd. Unfortunately vocalist Brett Campbell was inaudible for most of the set, even after trying to get the sound guy to increase the volume. The musical performance was better though – loud and brooding doom created from massive riffs and heaving harmonies. The fans really enjoyed the set and the atmosphere, but the sound issues took away from the overall experience.
The last time I saw Enslaved they were playing on the Barge to Hell while a thunderstorm raged in the distance. It wouldn’t be easy to match such a performance but there is always something special and intense about the smaller venue shows where you are pressed right up against the stage, risking musicians’ boots coming down on hands and their knees precariously close to headbangers’ foreheads as they step forward to tower over the audience. The packed venue greeted Enslaved with a roar when the band launched into their first song, the title track off RIITIIR [Nuclear Blast, 2012].
Enslaved kept the energy high through their set. Frontman Grutle Kjellson worked the crowd expertly, bantering with fan in between songs and delivering a furious bass lines and vocals. Guitarist Ivar Bjørnson was a commanding but amicable presence; he even told a joke about a moose that he warned fans would be terrible. Ice Dale strode around the stage, shredding over the crowd and interacting with his bandmates. Drummer Cato Bekkevold and keyboardist Herbrand Larsen were hidden in the shadows on the small stage, but their playing was distinct and clearly heard. The leaned heavily to newer material but of course included some older material and a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” that really riled up the crowd. A two song encore of “Fenris” and “Isa” provided a fine ending to the night.