live review

Hypocrisy/ Scar Symmetry/ Blackguard @ The Wreckroom, Toronto ON, May 29 2010

It was shortly after 8:00 pm when Hypocrisy made their significant entrance; the excitement in the room was palpable when they strode onto the stage, lit vaguely by dim blue light and partially obscured by theatrical smoke. I can only describe their set as an all-out assault. While the sun might have still been impudently shining outside of the Wreckroom, inside the audience was completely consumed by Hypocrisy’s blistering intensity.

Natalie Zed reviews the May 29th Toronto performance by Hypocrisy, Scar Symmetry and Blackguard. Live photos by Adam Wills

Slough Feg/ Funeral Circle @ Red Room, Vancouver BC, May 29 2010

The inveterate Slough Feg are one of those bands that pulls it off so well live that they’re able to sound identical to what they do on tape, which I found pretty impressive considering how ornate their songs can get. Personally, I was there to hear songs from their latest, Ape Uprising!, and they did not disappoint, throwing the excellent “Simian Manifesto” into their set early on. But as they’re touring for their 20th anniversary, the band threw loads of gems into their set. It was great to hear older tracks like “Tiger! Tiger!”, “The Final Gambit” and “Hiberno-Latin Invasion” live. And seeing Mike Scalzi and Angelo Tringali work their guitar magic, playing off each other is especially jaw-dropping – they recall the classic Gorham/Robertson harmony work in Thin Lizzy.

Portal/ Krallice/ Bloody Panda @ Mohawk Place, Buffalo NY May 24, 2010

The energy that Portal projected, both in their music and their sheer physical presence, was overwhelming. Every gesture that The Curator made was impossibly intense. I spent the entire set staring wildly up at the band, certain that any moment something Very Bad was going to happen. They’re masters at wielding this carefully managed sense of dread. Portal is aptly named; when they were on stage, reality felt somehow thinner than it was before.

Natalie Zed reviews the May 24th performance by Portal, Krallice and Bloody Panda at Buffalo, NY’s Mohawk Place. Concert photography by Adam Wills.

Porcupine Tree @ Sound Academy, Toronto, ON, May 8, 2010

Were this simply an auditory barrage (which I am more than familiar with), I might have had more resistance. But it was much more than that. This show was a carefully orchestrated, beautifully curated performance. The video accompaniment interesting and tasteful, and varied enough that I was never able to settle fully into it or anticipate what was coming next…

Natalie Zed reviews the Saturday, May 8th performance by UK prog rock veterans Porcupine Tree at Toronto’s Sound Academy. Concert photography by Adam Wills.

Týr/ Crimson Shadows/ Bolero @ Sneaky Dee’s, Toronto, ON, April 30, 2010

Everything else fell away, however, when TÝR took the stage. I seemed as though I had handed the band a checklist of everything I hoped to see in their performance, and they generously met every request. They played “Hail to the Hammer,” “Hold The Heathen Hammer High,” and “Sinklars Visa;” Heri and Terji performed shirtless; they took long swigs from a bottle of rum throughout the performance.

Alcest/ Monarque/ Thantifaxath @ Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, April 23, 2010

For the first time in a great many shows, I actually sat down during a performance. I sat not because I was bored, not even because I was tired. I sat because the energy it took to operate my legs felt like energy I could be directing towards my ears. I sat on a table top with my eyes closed, rocking back and forth unconsciously, entirely consumed.

Natalie Zed reviews the April 23rd Toronto debut of France’s Alcest. Also sharing the bill were Quebec black metallers Monarque and Thantifaxath.

Amon Amarth/Eluveitie/Holy Grail @ Odeon, Saskatoon, SK, April 16, 2010

As opposed to the combination of muscle and nuance that Eluveitie excels at live, Amon Amarth is always strictly about brute force. No frills at all, just five guys taking the stage and hammering out an hour and a half’s worth of rousing tunes. Led by the gregarious, downright jolly Johan Hegg, the band hunkered down and regaled the hot, sweaty crowd with a considerably longer set than their first North American tour, which was certainly a nice touch.

Ludicra / Krallice / Empyrean Plague @ Rancho Relaxo, Toronto ON, April 14, 2010

I don’t want to in any way cheapen Ludicra’s performance here by saying that they performed “admirably under the circumstances.” They flat-out fucking rocked. They are tough, tenacious, and have a mind-blowing stage presence. Their vocalist, Laurie Sue Shanaman, filled the meagre space with her otherworldly voice.

Natalie Zed reviews the April 14th Toronto performance by Ludicra, Krallice and Empyrean Plague, which took place at Rancho Relaxo