Enslaved, Yob, Ecstatic Vision and Kosmograd
Live at the Opera House, Toronto, Ontario, March 19th, 2015
A show like this was by most in the extreme metal community of south-eastern Ontario considered a must attend. There a are a couple reasons, one being that the last time Enslaved was supposed to be in town they couldn’t make it as they were stuck in a snow storm in Manitoba. Also it is a chance to witness a live Yob set which only seems to take place every two or three years and this time around fans would get to hear some of the material off their most recent release from last year (Clearing the Path to Ascend).
Kosmograd was up first and really got things going with some catchy exciting grooves. Their sound might have been a pleasant surprise for some in attendance as they have some great post-rock and progressive drone sounds. Their set contained songs off their recent most release called Orbiter, which came out back in November. The use of different effects and song structures was very much present and evoked some head nodding from the crowd. Overall they played a powerful and inspired set.
Next up was Ecstatic Vision, which this concert attendee had not heard of before, and I was looking forward to enjoying some new sounds. The beginning parts could be a throwback to the days when bands like Hawkwind were pioneering something called space rock. The band sounded great throughout their time but one might say they were trying too hard to make a statement where it has all been done and heard before.
Their version of psyche sounds not far off from any popular kraut or space rock group that had endless rhythms and echoing guitars with differing effects. The vocals to this listener sounded like a combination of Lemmy from Motörhead and Monster Magnet. This was very throwback but didn’t inspire me and it was difficult to hear any clarity with all the background noise and effects happening all at once. At least this group gets an E for effort.
The stage had been set for Yob to deliver yet another powerful, emotionally charged, heavy doom filled set that has made them one of the best modern day bands of the genre. For this concert goer it was his first time to see this incredible group live and to say he was excited was an understatement. After the first couple notes accompanied by bass and drum rhythms the crowd seemed to fall into trance-like state: fans were nodding and moving to this timeless music and why not. The sort of power Yob creates on songs like “In Your Blood” made this listener feel more alive and, possibly, one with the music. Some might say they produce the sounds that could be heard when mountains, lakes, trees and the Earth itself were created.
Later moods and emotions were put to the limit as the band weaved through the song “Marrow,” also from the most recent album Clearing the Path to Ascend. When Mike, Travis and Aaron play it is akin to finding answers to the questions that make up the cosmos and the nature of life itself. An almost perfect set was performed and, as a friend who had never heard of Yob until that night said, they are “unreal.”
These masters of progressive metal had their work cut out for them after the set delivered previous. But these talented music veterans were more than up to the task of swaying this crowd as they have been doing since the mid-90s. They started off playing some new material from the In Times album, which was released earlier that month. The song was very progressive and had lots of flow to it and this helped get the crowd going with a nodding of heads.
Later the band played some material from albums such as Rittir, Axioma Ethica Odini and Vertebrae, all of which have different and ever changing feelings and moods. Most could make out the obvious throwback and inspiration from bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Rush and King Crimson. Grutle, Ivar and company have a way of always making masterful musicianship look easy and effortless. The grooves coming from the stage had the capacity to transport listeners to other sonic realms by combining so many elements into the epic strength of the songs themselves.
That being said, this progressive music fan found the sound much more encompassing when he retreated from front row center by the stage to back where the sound board was located. Up front the bass and drums were pummelling but at this new location you could hear much more and the clarity was amazing. I noticed also a lot more subtle things like when choruses changed into melodies or small interplay between band mates before the changing of time signature that illustrated their passion for playing and touring.
Before the end of the set these Norwegian rock stars turned back the clock and played some absolutely essential listening material from the album Below the Lights that this writer had been waiting for all evening. Afterward they played some even earlier material, which propelled the crowd into a moshing frenzy as it contained a lot of Norwegian black metal in style and sound. Enslaved ended the evening with a rendition of the fantastic song “ISA” and were even accompanied on stage by Mike and Aaron from Yob for some gang vocals and a great ending to a perfect night.