By Natalie Zed; Concert photos by Albert Mansour
As is often a hazard at early shows, I missed two of the early opening bands (Swashbuckle and Remain), casualties of my work schedule. I’ve wound up seeing (or almost-seeing, as was the case at the Hypocrisy show) Swashbuckle about once every couple of months, as they are on just about every tour in the universe these days. I enjoy their presence at a show; they’re fun and irreverent, and whenever they are part of a lineup, there’ll be kids in the audience wearing pirate hats and t-shirts with ridiculous crotch and scurvy references—all of which only contribute to a positive atmosphere. This was unfortunately the second time I’ve missed Remain (as I also arrived too late to the Goatwhore/3IOB show to catch their set). Third time’s a charm?
By the time I arrived at the Opera House, I had just enough time to grab a beer before Mutiny Within began to play. This is the second time I have seen them in as many months; they opened for Dark Tranquility in late May. This band is high energy and entertaining, but not necessarily my thing. There is something about them that comes across as carefully manicured, deliberately chosen and easily digestible. Their sound is aggressive, certainly, but in a perfectly manageable way. They have a track on the new God of War soundtrack (“The End”), and WWE wrestler Evan Bourne uses “Born To Win” as his theme song. I don’t mean to be all grim and brvtal here, and to begrudge any band material success; these guys clearly know what they’re doing from a marketing perspective. Their music is, however, safe. Solid and meaty, certainly, but also easy in a way that just doesn’t prickle my skin. Still, their set was tight and new drummer Chad Anthony suits their aesthetic well.
In the interest of full bias disclosure, I was excited as all hell to see Death Angel. This summer has been hellish for me. I don’t do well in the heat, and the absolutely relentless humidity has conspired to make me miserable. Death Angel has been a comfort in this sweltering season; I’ve often listened to Killing Season this summer while laying on the kitchen floor, feeling my back stick to the linoleum like piece of processed cheese to it’s plastic wrapping. In perfect sync with the weather, Death Angel’s performance was a scorcher. The Bay-area thrashers blazed across the stage for their entire set; vocalist Mark Osegueda sounds like he’s got a fireball in his voicebox. Their performance of the song “River of Rapture” from their upcoming album Relentless Retribution, which fit seamlessly into their hot & heavy set. I’m definitely looking forward to the new release even more after this performance. Death Angel can return to Toronto and attempt to give me heat stroke again any time they please.
Soilwork are touring to support their latest album, The Panic Broadcast, released in North America on July 13th, and naturally played several tracks from the record, including “Night Comes Clean,” “Deliverance is Mine,” and “Two Lives Worth Reckoning.” I am definitely digging on their new material; it’s groovy but still has guts, and in a live setting is thoroughly ear-quenching. I already felt aurally sated by the time that Soilwork took the stage; this did not keep me from appreciating their set, however. Sometimes, when I am so enamoured with one of the bands in the supporting position, I feel I can’t give the headliner the appropriate amount of attention. On this occasion, however, while I certainly felt overindulged, I enjoyed the sonic gluttony. Whereas Death Angel left me feeling like the insides of my ears had been coated in burning pitch, Soilwork brought a delicious coolness to the show. Their bluesy, melodic death metal proved to be an excellent foil to Death Angel’s performance. These bands work exceedingly well together in this regard; the tour is well curated. Soilwork have matured well as a band, retaining all their punch and aggressiveness while becoming smoother and more balanced in their overall sound. While they’re not the sort of band that will leave me feeling demolished or rent in twain, I definitely walked out of the Opera House thoroughly satisfied.