(All of the regular NCS staffers have been together in Seattle since last week and collectively took in the performances by Wintersun, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Arsis at Studio Seven on August 23. In this post Andy Synn reviews the show and shares with us some video clips that he filmed that night.)
So… we may have missed Starkill. Apologies all. We were busy having drinks across town at The Oak (very cool place by the way) and ended up staying a bit later than we’d anticipated.
No worries though, because we made it to the venue just in time for Arsis who were, for me, at least, the most anticipated band of the night.
I’ve never seen James Malone and his melodeath marauders before, but I’ve been a fan of the band ever since they released A Celebration of Guilt, so this was a big moment for me, and the band did not disappoint at all.
Malone himself is both a fantastic guitarist and a vicious vocalist, shredding and riffing away flawlessly while barking his venomous, diseased lyrics.
Bassist Noah Martin is a ball of energy, windmilling like crazy as his fleet fingers run up and down the fretboard, never once losing the massive grin on his face.
Brandon Ellis is superfluously awesome on guitar, rocking out hard without missing a single note or harmony throughout the entire set.
And drummer Shawn Priest is like a zen-master of the drumming arts – extreme, yet controlled – like the calm at the centre of a blast-beat driven storm.
The only minor complaint with the band’s set was just how short it was… I really wanted to hear some Starve For The Devil cuts. But that’s not much of a complaint when all is said and done… I’ll just have to see the band live some more!
The band’s (all too short) setlist for the evening was:
“Handbook For The Recently Deceased”
“A Diamond For Disease”
“Seven Whispers Fell Silent”
“The Face of My Innocence”
Up next were the ultimate proponents of extreme excess, Italy’s own Fleshgod Apocalypse. With a six-piece lineup that now includes female singer Veronica Bordacchini, the band positively packed the Studio Seven stage with barely an inch to spare, a situation exacerbated by the presence of Francesco Ferrini’s ostentatious upright piano, which took up a huge area to the right.
But that’s Fleshgod for you. They’re a band for whom more is definitely more. With a setlist that focused heavily on songs from Agony, with a few gems from the just-released Labyrinth thrown in, the band dropped a symphonic shockwave on the venue without remorse or restraint. Infectious and irresistible, the Italian death-maestros are an absolute force in the live arena.
The show wasn’t without its issues, however – for one, the sheer force of Francesco Paoli’s drumming resulted in a broken kick-pedal halfway through the set which (through no fault of their own) killed the band’s momentum temporarily. [Editor’s Interruption: I learned from FA’s Paolo Rossi after the show that the broken pedal was caused by a stage-diving fan who fell into the kit while getting on stage.] Also, there’s still a nagging sense that the excessive orchestral overtones of their sound (while fantastic in their own right) serve to overshadow the rest of the music a tad.
The bass, for example, was almost non-existent in the night’s sound mix, while the guitars frequently dropped in and out of prominence, which was a shame because the group have clearly gone to much greater effort on the new material to craft more intricate and memorable riffs to balance out their orchestral pretensions.
Still, a great show, all in all. With some wicked guitar solos.
“Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)”
Finally, the furious Finnish foursome known as Wintersun took the stage to an almost rapturous level of applause. Let me tell you, Seattle loves Wintersun.
Personally, I’ve never gotten into the hype… BUT I was really looking forward to seeing them play as I knew that a) the band were all fantastic musicians, and b) they’re famed for putting on a killer live show. And did they ever.
Absolutely flawless, passionate, heroic (got to love that hero-wind) and simply stunning from start to finish.
With a set that went well over an hour, the band performed Time I in its entirety, backed by a plethora of cuts from their first album, and a new song from the upcoming Time II which was by far the best thing they played all night. A good sign for the future.
The group also dropped in a random cover of “Rape Me” by Nirvana. It turns out that the band have been learning and playing a song relevant to each city on the tour at each stop, something which proves both their inimitable musicianship and their dedication to their fanbase. Very impressive.
One thing that you get from seeing Wintersun is a sense of just how deeply their influence runs. In the eight years between the release of their debut and its follow-up last year there have been countless, countless bands taking the band’s epic, grandiose approach to folk-laden, technical melodeath and trying to reproduce it as best they can. And few (if any) have really succeeded.
Seeing Wintersun live, you can understand why. I may not be their biggest fan, but even I can admit that they’re on a level all their own. An awesome show, through and through.
“When Time Fades Away”
“Sons of Winter and Stars”
“Land of Snow and Sorrow”
“Darkness and Frost”
“Sadness and Hate”
“Beyond the Dark Sun”
“The Way of the Fire”
“Rape Me” (Nirvana cover)