@ The Relentless Garage, Islington
16th July 2013
Review by Victoria Fenbane
Photography by Michelle Murphy
Wintersun brought their Finnish melodic death metal to the UK/Ireland for a seven city tour, kicking off in London, in the middle of a heat wave. A 30 minute delay to the headline set, provides a welcome opportunity to cool down in the air-conditioned side bar, escaping the sold out venue itself, which is without even a hint of air-con and thus unbearable when at its 650 capacity.
The goose bump inducing intro sequence of ‘When Time Fades Away’ creates a welcome chill (if only perceived – the humid air is more akin to a Viking sweat-lodge). Opener ‘Sons of Winter and Stars’ is a beautiful contrast of bombastic brutal melodic death, backed with symphonic choral vocals.
From the outset it is one of the tightest displays of metal I have witnessed.
The crowd rooted to the spot, are enraptured, wearing the glazed features of euphoria; induced by gloriously trancelike sweeping melodies, combined with triple vocals backed by complex guitar work and blasting percussion on the verge of black beats.
The overall effect is a subtle, yet powerful, genre spanning sound which never quite falls fully into prog, power,or melodic death, with hints of a folk undercurrent throughout.
The folk element is an outcome of the vocal melodies; within Wintersun the voice is as essential an instrument as the guitars, keys or drums to the overall epic sound.
Having seeing Ensiferum live and been a little disappointed, tonight I can hear the missing link in what they have lost in Jari. Wintersun have the melodies and cohesiveness I found Jari’s previous band lacked live. Making Wintersun are a must for Ensiferum fans.
Musically the gig gathers pace throughout, while maintaining the trippy trance-state inducing touches, or maybe its heat induced delirium!
Surprisingly few leave the main room for reprieve from the heat – that’s how good Wintersun are!
They hypnotize and blot out the feeling of sweat building up in your boots, however a few fall victim to the heat and pass out. Crowd behaviour wise nodding heads far outweighs head bangers, either a result of the heat or metal induced bliss at the perfect subtly of the sound emanating from the stage.
Personal highlights for me were: ”Beautiful Death’ an apt name for such a well-crafted piece of genre defying metal and the 11 minute Opus ‘Time’, which is satisfyingly heavier live. Everyone here knows both albums equally as well, all material receiving equal reception.
As it is bassist Jukka’s birthday, the band and crowd sing him ‘Happy Birthday’. After which Wintersun proceed to play the chugging ‘Beyond the Dark Sun’, wearing gold party hats whilst balloons are kicked about in the audience. Here is a band who can have fun, which probably upsets a few grumpy purists…
There is not really time for an encore. The set concludes with ‘Starchild’, which takes us past the 11pm venue curfew.
The band, clad in towels remain on stage long past lights up, shaking hands of the many fans still in this sweltering venue.
It is clear that that Wintersun have a lot of passionate, dedicated fans in the UK, but I get the impression the sold out shows and reception is a bit of a surprise to the band. It is neither surprising nor undeserved, Wintersun are by far one of the best bands out there. Creating immaculate listenable lyrical soundtrack style metal, while at the same time having loads of time for their fans.
Long may they continue!
When Time Fades Away
Sons of Winter and Stars
Land of Snow and Sorrow
Battle Against Time
Darkness and Frost
Beyond the Dark Sun